BASKET CASE by Carl Hiaasen

BASKET CASE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

South Florida’s master farceur takes enough off his trademark loony tunes (Sick Puppy, 2000, etc.) to fit some, though not all, the laughs into a whodunit.

The corpse is the late James Bradley Stomarti, a.k.a. Jimmy Stoma, the long-ago rocker whose fame, years after he fronted the Slut Puppies, is so great that Courtney Love and the Van Halen brothers turn out for his funeral. So does Jack Tagger, banished from the Union-Register investigative team to the obituary desk after he told off the paper’s greedy new owner in front of the shareholders. Jack has succeeded in getting enough material from Jimmy’s widow, one-hit singer Cleo Rio, to file the very first obit on the one-time star. Unfortunately, much of the material seems to be untrue, or at least suggestively incomplete. Jimmy wasn’t producing the new album Cleo’s been plugging at every opportunity, insists his sister, Janet Thrush, but working on his own comeback record. And there are some peculiar discrepancies about Jimmy’s scuba-diving death in the Bahamas. Before Jack can get Janet to request a full autopsy on Jimmy, though, Cleo’s had his body cremated. Still curious, Jack digs up Jimmy’s diving partner, fellow Slut Puppy alum Jay Burns; hours later, as if on cue, Burns is dead. Is somebody trying to wipe out the whole band? Reluctantly aided by his gung-ho editor, comely Emma Cole, Jack presses on, and is soon attacked for his trouble by a thug he fends off with the frozen corpse of Colonel Tom, his late pet lizard—one of the many funny trimmings here that don’t have very much to do with the story.

The giggles throughout, in fact, are authentic, but this time the crazies only nibble at the edges of the dutiful detective story instead of disporting themselves smack into the middle of things, as they’ve done in Hiaasen’s more inspired crime comedies.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-41107-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001




Kirkus Interview
Carl Hiaasen
author of RAZOR GIRL
November 7, 2016

In Razor Girl, Carl Hiaasen’s new novel, when Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but. Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield—the eponymous Razor Girl—and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There's Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys--a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another…Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear…Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren…and Andrew Yancy—formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover's husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he'll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy's future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way—including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections. “How can Hiaasen possibly tie together all this monkey business in the end?” our reviewer asks in a starred review. “His delirious plotting is so fine-tuned that preposterous complications that would strain lesser novelists fit right into his antic world. Relax, enjoy, and marvel anew at the power of unbridled fictional invention.” View video >

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