Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen


Cozy Mystery

Basket Case Basket CaseCarl Hiaasen; Mysterious Press 2005WorldCat

The professional death of a newspaper journalist is to be shuffled off to the back of the paper. Jack Tagger had committed professional suicide at the Union-Register in South Florida. Now he writes obituaries. He is limited to one a day and less than 12 inches of space (approximately 500 words or less). Jack knows that management wants him to quit. He stubbornly refuses. Instead he harasses his young editor, Emma, and continues on his way. He hopes he can get an interesting death and keep it long enough to remake his career.

Jack has developed a morbid fascination with death. He is 46, the same age John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley were when they died. If you ask him the name of any dead celebrity, he can tell you how old that person was at death. The woman he loves left him because of his morbidity. He remains friends with her daughter and keeps up on her life.

When Jack sees the death notice of James Stomarti, he had a feeling that name meant something. When he did his research, he was excited to realized that Stomarti was the lead singer for Jimmy Stoma and the Slut Puppies. The Slut Puppies had been broken up for years and Stoma’s single CD after that failed. Since then he had married a new up and comer in the rock world. His death was from accidental drowning while diving off the Bahamas.

But Jack’s news nose is intrigued. He believes there is more to the story. He begins to annoy Emma as he keeps digging into Stomarti’s friends and family trying to find something more. He shuffles off his obituary duties to a summer intern. When someone ransacks his apartment and attacks him, he is sure he’s on to something. Now he has to figure out what.

This is the first Carl Hiaasen novel I’ve read and I am glad I finally picked one up. They had caught my attention before, but I usually grabbed something else. My daughter told me she had read this one and that I would enjoy it. She’s right.

I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. Jack Tagger tells the story first person so the reader hears all his age obsessing and love of music. He talks about his feelings for his ex-girlfriend, how he became a pariah at the newspaper, how he hopes to get his current editor, Emma, to get out of the newspaper business before it ruins her, and how he can get back on the paper’s front page. It’s a humorous book with an interesting mystery. I enjoyed Basket Case as much as my daughter predicted. I’ll read more in the future.

Notice:  Suggestive dialogue or situations

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