cover image Baked


Mark Haskell Smith, Black Cat, $14 paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-8021-7076-7

Smith (Moist) misfires with this attempt at a darkly humorous crime novel, which opens with the shooting of botanist Miro Basinas in Los Angeles. A month earlier, Basinas traveled to Amsterdam to enter the Cannabis Cup, a major international cannabis competition, which his strain, Elephant Crush, ends up winning. His valuable commodity attracts predators, and while recovering in the hospital from his bullet wound, he learns someone has stolen the seed supply of his brand. Various improbable characters enter the action, notably Shamus Noriega, a half-Salvadoran, half-Irish gangster, who provides weed to medical marijuana centers, and Mormon elder Daniel Lamb, who struggles with his sexual urges and winds up abandoning his church to work at a taco truck ("people didn't need dogma, religion, or special underwear; people needed a good burrito"). Potheads will have fun, but others may find Basinas's quest for revenge less than compelling. (Aug.)