Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen

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Once a hotshot investigative reporter, Jack Tagger now bangs out obituaries for a South Florida daily, “plotting to resurrect my newspaper career by yoking my byline to some famous stiff.” Jimmy Stoma, the infamous front man of Jimmy and the Slut Puppies, dead in a fishy-smelling scuba “accident,” might be the stiff of Jack’s dreams—if only he can figure out what happened.

Standing in the way are (among others) his ambitious young editor, who hasn’t yet fired anyone but plans to “break her cherry” on Jack; the rock star’s pop-singer widow, who’s using the occasion of her husband’ s death to re-launch her own career; and the soulless, profit-hungry owner of the newspaper, whom Jack once publicly humiliated at a stockholders’ meeting.

With clues from the dead rock singer’s music, Jack ultimately unravels Jimmy Stoma’s strange fate—in a hilariously hard-won triumph for muckraking journalism, and for the death-obsessed obituary writer himself.

“Always be halfway prepared” is Jack Tagger’s motto—and it’s more than enough to guarantee a wickedly funny, brilliantly entertaining novel from Carl Hiaasen.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey.

About Carl Hiaasen

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Carl Hiaasen has been writing about Florida since his father gave him a typewriter at age six. Then it was hunt-and-peck stories about neighborhood kickball and softball games. Now Hiaasen writes a column for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling novels, including Sick Puppy and Nature Girl.Hoot, Hiaasen's first novel for young readers, was the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Honor. And Flush, his second book for kids, spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. You can read more about Hiaasen's work at
Published January 8, 2002 by Vintage. 432 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Basket Case

The New York Times

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(Stoma -- a seeming amalgam of Jimmy Buffett and Kurt Cobain -- titles his Grammy-winning album ''A Painful Burning Sensation.'') More mainstream crime enthusiasts will admire Tagger's dogged pursuit of what really happened to Jimmy, and relish a cast that includes a female cop who poses for Inte...

Feb 03 2002 | Read Full Review of Basket Case

Publishers Weekly

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Hiassen gets back to his roots with this (almost) straight-ahead mystery, but doesn't skimp on the funny stuff as he follows the adventures of Jack Tagger, down-on-his-luck journalist relegated to the obit beat at a smalltown Florida daily.

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Book Reporter

He is now 46 and he obsesses over the fact that Jack London, Jack Kennedy (a coincidence that they're both Jacks?

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Basket Case

AV Club

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Pitched a little to the wacky of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen's shaggy-dog comic mysteries are borne of his experience as a columnist for the Miami Herald, where he presides over a city so corrupt that the dead periodically vote in local elections.

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of Basket Case

Entertainment Weekly

Jack's an old-school muckraker who bemoans the ''strenuously tepid and deferential'' tone of modern American journalism, noting that ''people who run most newspapers no longer seek out renegades and wild spirits, but rather climbers and careerists.'' Such diatribes don't endear Jack to the paper'...

Jan 16 2002 | Read Full Review of Basket Case


He wants off the morgue watch, so when a rocker named Jimmy Stoma dies in a suspicious accident, Jack is determined to make an actual news story out of it to get his name back on the front page.

Jan 14 2002 | Read Full Review of Basket Case

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