BASKET CASE, Carl Hiaasen

A former newspaper journalist, readers are very fortunate Hiaasen decided he would enjoy writing novels more than reporting the news.

Jack Tagger’s years in exile at the obituaries desk of a South Florida daily haven’t dulled his investigative reporter’s nose for a good story. When Jimmy Stoma, the infamous frontman of Jimmy and the Slut Puppies, dies in a fishy scuba accident, Jack sees his ticket back to page one—if only he can figure out what really happened. Standing in his way are, just for starters, 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 relaunch her own career; and the soulless, profit-hungry owner of the newspaper, whom Jack once publicly humiliated at a stockholders’ meeting. Following clues from the late rock singer’s own music, Jack tries to unravel the lies surrounding Jimmy Stoma’s strange fate.

Richard writes
Many a reader might be very envious of Carl Hiaasen’s skill with writing, his intelligence, memory and mental agility. Add to that his sense of humour. Hiaasen never writes a bad book. Like pizza, some are better than others and each is dependent on subjectivity. Some of us like anchovies, others prefer mushrooms instead, and others eschew both in favour of peppers, hot ones.

Hiaasen is that kind of writer but no matter which of his book one reads, one will enjoy his verbal versatility, his literary flexibility, his fun with words and phrases. Add to all this, his prestigious memory for trivia and nostalgia is awe-inspiring.

Basket Case is typical Hiaasen, humorous lamentation, comedic complaining and hilarious griping. The story seems almost superficial or secondary. The reading fun comes from watching Hiaasen’s turn of phrase, his word choices and his fun playing with his thinking. 

This book is just a lot of fun, no more, no less. It isn’t a suspenseful novel. It isn’t a novel of excitement and tension. It simply is Hiaasen having fun with the language, writing his consciousness with lots of fun and entertainment.

Hiaasen has written more engaging books, stories that are more attractive and more appealing. But he never disappoints as long the reader recognizes Hiaasen is having fun and trying to make his book fun to read. He succeeds most of the time.

Hiaasen may be the Erma Bombeck of sleuthing. If murder can be associated humour, Hiassen is your writer. Sounds morbid but remember it is fiction and fun. Entertaining reading.

Basket Case was not Hiaasen at his best. The story got convoluted and at times unnecessarily confusing. But his stories are an entertaining diversion.

Razor Girl, another book by Hiaasen, was much better in our view.


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