Knopf, Feb 2002, 25.95, 317 pp.
Though he knew better than to harangue the owner of the Union-Register, investigative reporter Jack Tagger still ripped him in front of shareholders. Thus, the forty-six year old journalist now works the obituary column. When Jack learns that James Bradley Stomarti died in a drowning accident in the Bahamas, he thinks he has a story worth more than the twelve inches his editor Emma wants to give to the deceased rabbi. Stomarti was better known as punk rocker Jimmy Stoma, lead singer of the once popular Slut Puppies. Emma never heard of the has-been or his group, but reluctantly allows Jack to investigate the death just in case.
Jack calls James' sister who sends him to the spouse of the deceased, Cleo Rio. Her tale is inconsistent viz a viz the sibling's story leading Jack to question whether a murder occurred. As he digs deeper, attempts are made on Jack's life, but if he is to escape the “mortuary” he knows he must risk becoming an obit entry by continuing his inquiries.
Though not quite as crazy as some of his previous Florida mysteries BASKET CASE is a satirical tale that pokes fun at the newspaper industry through Jack's first person account. Jack sees life as whimsical, which enables him to torture the serious Emma even if he believes she will either sleep with him, fire his butt, or both. The investigation is humorous, crazy, but engaging as Carl Hiaasen sans Skink furnishes his fans with a wild whimsical winner.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner