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Basket Case

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  15,581 ratings  ·  934 reviews
Once a hotshot investigative reporter, Jack Tagger now bangs out obituaries for a South Florida daily, "plotting to resurrect my 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" may be just the stiff Jack needs-if only he can figure out what happened. Standing in t ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 2nd 2002)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,581 ratings  ·  934 reviews

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Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy
Other than "Team Rodent" I had never read a Hiaasen novel until this one. I had always heard good things and had listened to him compared to many of my favorite authors. Last night I read Basket Case (actually I finished it... I started it yesterday). Now that I have finally read a Hiaasen novel, I must say, I absolutely loved it.

First, it takes place in my home state of Florida, which I miss immensely so it was nice to be back there, if only in my mind. Second, Hiaasen is an extremely intellig
A slightly off-kilter mystery about a dead punk rocker, his peri-pubescent brat of a wife (of a few months) a toss-up of residual newsroom characters, overarching goodies and baddies (media conglomerates) and some of the sundry tasty and tawdry types that one finds in beach towns of a certain size, there to be someone they weren’t yesterday.
It isn’t a book that will linger, or open any wondrous spectral insight - but it might make you giggle out loud several times. That's good.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Can't say that I would
I am a big fan of Mr. Hiaasen. That being said I was pretty disappointed in Basket Case. It took me over two years to read this book, simply because I didn’t care. It turned into the book I picked up and read a few pages in between the next thing I would read. The characters weren’t as interesting as in Hiaasen’s previous stories. The humor, which usually has me laugh out loud, was weak. Basket Case also lacked the pro-environmental undertones that he has become known for.

This is the first novel
Thomas Strömquist
A writer on the family pages of a small local decides to go into investigative journalism and find out what happened to a deceased rock singer. Was it an accident or was it something else? More 'traditional crime' novel and probably the least 'typical' Hiaasen since he co-wrote with Montalbano. No worries, though - you won't mistake Hiaasen for someone else! ...more
Mike French
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable book. This book wasn't laughing out so much your sides hurt for a least 2 days like the Skink series, but was very humorous! If you like Carl Hiaasen and haven't read it ,you should! ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
I always enjoy learning about the newspaper business from irreverent Hiaasen, and this was no exception. I love the journalist characters he creates who are constantly pissing off editors and forced into a second-tier position as penance. Writing obituaries is a particularly inspired job for the purpose, and it was a lot of fun to glimpse that underexamined niche of journalism. Perfect way for Hiaasen to weave a lot gallows humor and wisecracks into a story.

As to the story itself I have to agree
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Basket Case is the first Carl Hiaasen that I've read and it was pretty good.

What I liked:

- Pacing - the story moves and doesn't lag at any point. It was so easy to read that I was finished before I knew it.

- Humor (general) - it's meant to be funny and it was refreshing to read a mystery that was fairly light and without too much heavy emotion.

- Details about the newspaper business. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me but I can see how someone with the right personality would love the d
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jack Tagger has been exiled to his Florida newspaper's obit desk but he has a plan to find just the right death to springboard his by-line back to the front page.

And when Jimmy Stoma's death notice crosses his desk, the game is on.

Stoma was the front man for an old rock group. Tagger suspects his death was not a result of natural causes. And the cast of characters inhabiting the world of Stoma and Tagger is a typical Hiaasen mash-up of likeable, colorful and potential Darwin Award winners.

Scott Rhee
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Carl Hiaasen is funny. But he's probably not so funny to a lot of people, namely politicians (Republicans and Democrats alike), the Aryan Brotherhood, trailer trash, people who spend thousands on plastic surgery, plastic surgeons, Colombian drug dealers, tourists, pedophiles, supermodels, criminals, and dog-haters. I suppose if you're not in one of those demographics, you won't be offended by Hiaasen's salty disposition.

Hiaasen basically hates everybody in Miami, Florida, and he writes lovingly
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this for the spring challenge. I liked this one more than Nature Girl but not quite as much as Skinny Dip. Hiaasen again brings to life some pretty funny characters including some of the dumbest criminals you've ever met. Entertaining story, pretty far fetched but still a lot of fun. ...more
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I randomly picked up Sick Puppy by this author because I liked the cover (well done marketing team!). The heroes are flawed and quirky. The hero in this book is obsessed with death and writes obituaries. I am really enjoying this author. I mean, his books have yet to change my life or my perspective on life, but they're great to read on a lazy Sunday (cupcakes!), curled up on a comfy chair still wearing pajamas and sipping coffee. Or tea, you could sip tea, as well. ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Positively, one of my least favorite Hiaasen reads. In fact, it's closer to 1 star than the 2 I'm giving it because of a few clever lines by an obit writer in fear of his own fatality. 3 of 10 stars ...more
Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
After the slightly disappointed feeling I had from reading 'Sick Puppy' - with its oddly serious commentary running throughout - I'm glad to report that 'Basket Case' is more in line with the rollicking 'joyousness' of the author's madcap 'Skinny Dip'.

In one significant way, it surpasses 'SD' (even if, overall, I prefer the latter novel). 'SD' - like 'Sick Puppy' - probably has too many characters, but it didn't matter because its antics are so satisfying that giving even the subordinate charac
Mal Warwick
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trade-fiction
Carl Hiaasen is a very funny man. His comic novels about life in Florida are always amusing and sometimes hilarious. Inept criminals, corrupt politicians, and bumbling police officers populate his books. Few come off well. For example, “A disagreement over lane-changing etiquette has resulted in two motorists pulling semiautomatics and inconsiderately shooting each other in the diamond lane of the interstate.” And here he is in Basket Case (2002) writing about one of his protagonist’s ex-girlfri ...more
Pamela Mclaren
Watch out -- if you don't want to laugh yourself silly reading about former investigative reporter Jack Tagger as he claws his way from the obit section back to the front page by looking deeper into the death of an old rock star -- then don't pick up this book.

Because Tagger is on a mission and slowly gathering converts in his search into the sudden death Jimmy Stoma, the infamous front man of Jimmy and the Slut Puppies. It could be the story that will finally get him out from under the cloud c
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed it. (I mean couldn't-put-it-down-enjoyed-it.) A top-notch detective novel—without a detective.

Hiaasen's novels are always twisted and funny, but this was especially good. The crime itself is not especially original, but the protagonist, obituary writer Jack Tagger, and the way in which the crime is uncovered through his impulsive (compulsive?) actions is unique and interesting.

The healthy dose of pop-culture references kept me smiling, too.
Jun 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedic-fiction, 2007
This book doesn’t have some of the absurdity of Hiaasen’s other novels, but it was quite good. The relationships are all very believable, and I ended up liking Jack quite a bit. The conclusion of the mystery is also quite satisfying.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy humorous mysteries or books about Florida.
This book ranks up there with Dave Barry's books, in the "Florida humorous mystery" genre! It is a laugh-out-loud funny book about a flawed character, an obituary writer, who fears dying prematurely. Really enjoyable and easy to follow the story! ...more
Frederic Pierce
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved it. For a former newspaper reporter and increasingly devoted Carl Hiaasen fan such as myself, this book was a two-fer. The story is pure Hiaasen - a laugh-out-loud-funny mystery filled with outrageous characters, genuine suspense, a flawed and reluctant hero and an rock band called The Slut Puppies. Oh, and murder. It wouldn't be a Hiaasen tale without one of those.
But the story is also a period piece about newspaper journalism in the 1990s, when increasing corporate ownership and the res
Carl Hiaasen is in top form here, even if he differs from his usual narrative by switching to a single-perspective first person present tense narrative. This doesn't matter, because Hiaasen's writing is so good, his wit is so dry and the comedic timing so brilliant...he can handle any narration device with ease. The bonus of the different narrative is that the mystery is more focused, and it's his best in this regard. Hiaasen drops the usual environmental platform in what is an homage to classic ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is my first novel by Carl Hiaasen and I have to say that he’s a clever guy. The book is filled with clever quips that come at you practically from every paragraph. It’s not exactly laugh-out-loud stuff, but it’s highly entertaining, not that this seems to be a desirable trait in fiction these days. The book is a mystery of sorts, but I didn’t care even a little about the crime, something about a song and a murder. If you read closely, you’ll discover that the title comes from a song from a ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-reviewed, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Garrison Kelly
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Tagger, Jr. is a middle-aged former elite reporter who has since been demoted to writing micromanaged obituaries after going on a tirade against his newspaper’s corporate masters. Life is slow, miserable, and boring for Mr. Tagger until he’s tasked with writing an obituary for Jimmy Stoma, a rock and roll icon who is believed to have drowned in an unfortunate diving accident. Jack’s investigative instincts cause him to dig deeper into this case in an attempt to uncover a conspiracy involvin ...more
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

Forty-six year old Jack Tagger - who was once an investigative journalist - has been banished to the obituary page since publicly insulting his newspaper's publisher. Hoping to make it back to the front page Jack latches on to the story when former rock star Jimmy Stoma, who was lead singer of the Slut Puppies, dies while scuba diving in the Bahamas. Jack becomes suspicious when there's no autopsy, a quick cremation, and Jimmy's wife, Cleo Rio - an up and coming singer - tells conflicti
Jack Tagger is a 40-something journalist at a newspaper in Florida. He's been demoted from writing front-page articles to the obituary section for back-talking the new media conglomerate that purchased the formerly independently owned newspaper during a high-power meeting between staff, board, and executives. He becomes very interested in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a former punk rock star, Jimmy Stoma. Despite being told to stand down by his younger, less-experienced e ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Jack Tagger writes death notices for a South Florida daily newspaper. He's 46 and already death-obsessed; nature of the business. Jimmy Stoma, front man for a gone-but-not-forgotten rock group, turns up dead from a diving accident in the Bahamas. Jack writes the death notice based on some bad information given to him by the rocker's pop-singer widow, Cleo Rio. Jack suspects foul-play and is hell-bent on finding out the truth behind Jimmy Stoma's death. With the help Emma, the young and ambitious ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jack Tagger's dreams have not panned out as he would have hoped. He was a pretty good investigative reporter up until he investigated the wrong person ... something that resulted in his being reassigned to cover the obituaries for the paper he works at in southern Florida. An interesting opportunity arises when he gets an opportunity to write the obit for Jimmy Stoma, the lead singer of Jimmy and the Slut Puppies. Jack always loved the band, which reminds me a of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Poor Ji ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I would say that if I were reading it for a mystery I would have rated it higher (it was more a cheeky mystery than a comedy with a mystery) I think that is why the new readers marked it higher than his usual fans and the Hiaasen followers marked it lower. I usually like his work but it was a stretch to like this one. I thought that it just plodded along to a point that I was 75% done and wanted to stop. The chuckles (were not any really good laughs) were mostly just sarcastic comments that he m ...more
Mr. Stoner
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of his best. Again for more mature kids from MS and any HS kid will enjoy it. Jack Tagger, is a columnist for a paper in South Florida, of course, and he wants to resurrect his career and life. When Jim Stoma, of an infamous band, well named, Jimmy and the Slut Puppies, Jack can smell something fishy and decides to crack the case. Adventure ensues as everyone stands in his way including his young boss, the paper's owner and the deceased's lovely wife. Funny and easy to read. "A culpable cape ...more
Rob Bauer
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
A fun book with a few good plot twists. I don't think I have much to say about it that someone else hasn't already written, given how long the book's been around, but if you want something with some humor and that reads quickly you could do a lot worse. Especially if you enjoy looking back at the music albums of your youth and wondering just what you were thinking when you thought that was great music. :) ...more
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Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. After graduating from the University of Florida, he joined the Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the newspaper’s weekly magazine and prize-winning investigations team. As a journalist and author, Carl has spent most of his life advocating for the protection of the Florida Everglades. He and his family live in southern ...more

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