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 relaunch 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.