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Warner Books 2003
411 pages Paperback
Basket Case is not the Carl Hiaasen comic mystery novel I would use to introduce a new reader to this author. This is a fairly decent book but not one of the wildest, tightest, or funniest mysteries Hiaasen has written. Basket Case is not as over the top or darkly comic as past efforts. Though pretty decent, it drags a bit at times and the crazy characters typical of Hiaasen are not, this time, certifiably so. Kindle at Amazon: Basket Case
Basket Case starts out pretty tame: Jack Tagger, former star reporter now demoted to the obits, smells something … fishy … when his favorite seventies rock star, Jimmy Stoma, of Jimmy Stoma and the Slut Puppies, dies in a diving accident in the Bahamas. Problem is, he’s got to convince someone at the paper this is a mystery and worth investigating.
The mystery in Basket Case is not really much of one because an experienced mystery novel reader can fairly easily see early on who would have wanted Jimmy Stoma dead and why. A lot of the secondary story has to do with Tagger’s relationship with his younger than he is editor and the fear of dying young he has developed from working the obituary page. A third bit has to do with his conflict with the present owner of the paper, a conflict that sent him from star reporter to obit reader.
Through Jack Tagger, former newspaperman Carl Hiaasen comments on the sad state of the newspaper business, business being the key word now. This is rather interesting but pretty superficial, a bit of an editorial, and this novel’s endangered species moments.
The ending to Basket Case also drags a bit and though Hiaasen ties up the loose ends the knot itself is still a bit loose.
There is a howler in the blurb on the back of Basket Case. It claims Jack’s editor wants him to break her cherry but this is impossible as she reveals she was once married for two years or so. If you like Carl Hiaasen, you are going to like Tim Dorsey , Victor Gishler, and Lawrence Shames