Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times bestselling author and actual Florida Man Dave Barry returns with a Florida caper full of oddballs and more twists and turns than a snake slithering away from a gator.

Jesse Braddock is trapped in a tiny cabin deep in the Everglades with her infant daughter and her ex-boyfriend, a wannabe reality TV star who turned out to be a lot prettier on the outside than on the inside. Broke and desperate for a way out, Jesse stumbles across a long-lost treasure, which could solve all her problems—if she can figure out how to keep it. The problem is, some very bad men are also looking for the treasure, and they know Jesse has it.

Meanwhile, Ken Bortle of Bortle Brothers Bait and Beer has hatched a scheme to lure tourists to his failing store by making viral videos of the “Everglades Melon Monster.” The Monster is in fact an unemployed alcoholic newspaperman named Phil wearing a Dora the Explorer costume head. Incredibly, this plan actually works, inspiring a horde of TikTokers to swarm into the swamp in search of the monster at the same time villains are on the hunt for Jesse’s treasure. Amid this mayhem, a presidential hopeful arrives in the Everglades to start his campaign. Needless to say, it does not go as planned. In fact, nothing in this story goes as planned. This is, after all, Florida.

Don't just take our word for it...

“Before you open this book, ask yourself one important question: How hard do I want to laugh? Because (a) it’s Dave Barry, and (b) it’s Dave Freaking Barry. Of course Swamp Story is about greed, fraud, and viral fame, but there are also big-ass reptiles to keep the sketchiest characters on their toes. Everything that happens in this wild novel could easily happen in South Florida, and probably will. Read it here first. Dave’s version is always the funniest.”
– Carl Hiaasen

“Dave Barry continues his powerful, hypnotic, sway over us readers with this latest, powerful, hypnotic work that is not only hilariously funny, but also powerful and hypnotic.”
– Steve Martin

“Florida’s humorist laureate finds chaos and comedy in the Everglades….Gold bars, pythons, and TikTok videos of swamp monsters add up to a hilarious Florida tale….Barry makes mirth of all this mayhem with his usual aplomb.”
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Taste the very first page

“Slater!” Jesse yelled. “Get out here! There’s a snake!”

Jesse threw down her book and snatched Willa off the beach towel where she’d been dozing. The snake was maybe twenty-five feet away. It had slid silently around the side of the cabin. It looked huge to Jesse, its long, thick body covered with brown blotches, its triangular head an arrow pointing at her and her baby. Jesse knew it was a python. She’d seen pythons out here before. But none this big.


No answer from the cabin.

“Slater, there’s a snake out here!”

Still no answer.

“SLATER! There’s a very large snake! Please get out here right now!”

“Hang on.” Slater’s voice, drifting out through the open doorway, was hoarse, as if he had just taken a massive hit off a bong, which in fact he had.

The snake glided a few feet forward into the clearing, directly to- ward Jesse and Willa. Jesse wanted to run to the cabin, but that would mean running toward the snake. Clutching Willa, she backed up several steps, to the edge of the clearing, next to a live oak. If she stepped back any more, she’d be wading barefoot in the mucky, murky waters of the Everglades, which she knew contained both snakes and alligators, and God knew what else.

The snake slid a little closer.


“Jesus Christ all RIGHT.”