A Novelby Mark Haskell Smith
“A laugh-out-loud, thrill-a-minute, tour de force of bad behavior, weirdness, and contemporary illegal commerce. With Baked, Mark Haskell Smith may just have written his masterpiece.” —Jerry Stahl
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Miro Basinas is an experimental botanist—part mad scientist, part gentleman farmer—who sells his rarefied product to a discerning clientele. Only he’s not growing heirloom tomatoes or making organic wine—he’s growing weed. And when Miro hits the big time by winning Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup, cannasseurs and ganjaficionados aren’t the only people who want a piece of him and his mind-blowing pot that tastes like mangoes.
The latest wickedly funny crime novel from Mark Haskell Smith, Baked opens with a bang as Miro is cut down by a bullet. A mild-mannered hipster who doesn’t know the first thing about revenge—or even who shot him—Miro is soon on a quest to recover his prize invention and to secure his place as the Floyd Zaiger (creator of the pluot) of weed. It’s a journey packed with a delicious cast of characters, including a string-theory obsessed cop, a paramedic with a kinky streak, a Mormon missionary struggling to keep his “sap” under control in a city that is the personification of sex, a half-Irish half-Salvadoran drug dealer and his dim-witted associates, the owner of a taco truck, a cougar starlet, and an entrepreneur who wants to turn his medical marijuana Compassion Centers into the Starbucks of pot. Baked is a hilarious, rip-roaring romp from a talented, utterly original novelist.
“Between these covers, my friends, Mark Haskell Smith has harvested and served up the best kind of hybrid: at once a pulp mystery, demented comedy, and meditation on little ideas like greed, desire, and decency. Baked is original, subversive, a bit mind-expanding, and fully irresistible—a laugh a minute romp through a cultural moment just screwed up enough to be recognizably our own. You won’t have time to exhale. Nor will you want to.” —Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children
“A wickedly funny . . . blast of a book . . . featuring a fast-moving multilayered plot, prose that has a smart, jazzy swing, and moments of shivery unease while probing the tender areas of human randomness that crime shocks open.” —Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times
“Timing is everything in publishing, and novelist Mark Haskell Smith’s Baked seems to be in perfect alignment with not only the stars and a harvest moon, but also the ascendancy of the pot-smoking constituency of California.” —Dennis Nishi, The Wall Street Journal
“Baked, Mark Haskell Smith’s very funny fourth crime novel, tells a sprawling story . . . and it’s quite a mix: a sweet love story, raunchy sex, outrageous behavior, and a couple of murders, all of it laced with plenty of profanity. In short, this irreverent gonzo crime novel is not for the faint of heart. But it’s a great trip for the right reader.” —Hallie Ephron, Boston Globe
“Smith has a knack for winningly blending James Ellroy blunt violence with Elmore Leonard deadpan wit. With his new Baked, however, Smith approaches even rarer heights. In this dash through L.A.’s medical marijuana industry, Smith doesn’t so much twist reality to give it a more comic edge as realize ordinary people can be pretty f@#king mental all on their own. And with its lovingly ordinary absurdity, Baked starts to approach the gimlet-eyed barbed satire of Terry Southern.” —Bret McCabe, Baltimore City Paper
“A dark amusing crime caper.” —Harriet Klausner, The Midwest Book Review
“If you like crime fiction . . . Baked is the beach read for you. Baked by Mark Haskell Smith is one of the funniest and most entertaining books I’ve read in a long time.” —Brian Lindenmuth, Spinetingler Magazine
“Baked by Mark Haskell Smith is now officially on our must read shelf.” —PotCouture.com
“Baked is hilarious.” —Maxine Gee, The Hipster Book Club
“[A] hipster odyssey into Los Angeles’s medical marijuana industry. Following in the footsteps of The Big Lebowski and Inherent Vice, Baked expands the burgeoning field of LA Stoner Noir. Smith’s light, sardonic style and occasionally kinky plot twists keeps the action taut until the climactic Mexican standoff between good and evil.” —Justin Hampton, Skunk
“I love crime capers. I gobble them up like buttered popcorn. My favorite of this genre in recent years is Mark Haskell Smith . . . because he keeps getting better and better. Some of my other once-favorite authors have let me down in recent years. It’s like they start coasting once they have a multi-book deal and they churn out crap. Mark Haskell Smith is a writer’s writer. You can tell he enjoys his craft and he wants the reader to enjoy his work. I’ve read all four of his novels and he’s never let me down. . . . His ability to transplant the reader into places unknown is nothing short of magic. He’s a natural storyteller. His novels are crazy thrill-rides with shockingly depraved characters and rich settings. The worst thing about his novels is the sorrow I feel when I finish one.” —Best Thing Ever
“It is rare to find a novel that is both a true thriller and outright hilarious. If you treasure that combination as much as I do when it’s done right, then you’ll want to practically inhale Baked, the unique, drug-fueled romp from Mark Haskell Smith.” —Austin Camacho, The Big Thrill
“Not only one of my favorite writers (his work is hilarious, and perverse, and always page-turning), but one of my favorite people.” —Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love
“From the first sentence of Baked, which is so perfect it will have other writers eating their arms, Mark Haskell Smith grabs the reader by the throat and half-drags, half-gooses them through a laugh-out-loud, thrill-a-minute, tour de force of bad behavior, weirdness and contemporary illegal commerce. For years, the author’s work has been an open secret to connoisseurs of monstro prose and outrageous, transcend-the-genre crime action. With Baked, Mark Haskell Smith may just have written his masterpiece. The writing is addictively brilliant enough to render it a Schedule Three narcotic. I defy anyone to put Baked down without wanting more. It’s so good you’ll lose your short-term memory.” —Jerry Stahl
“Murder, mayhem, marijuana and Mormons—what more could you ask for in a crime novel? Baked grabs you by the sacred underpants and doesn’t let up ’til the last page.” —Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files
“As cockeyed and riotous as Carl Hiaasen on really good dope.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Connoisseurs of absurdist humor will find him working at the top of his game here.” —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
“If books came with MPAA ratings, Smith’s fourth novel would definitely get an NC-17. . . . Rest assured that the novel contains plenty of drug references, drug use, and sexual content. But it’s also a tightly plotted, well-paced caper with a message, á la Carl Hiaasen. . . . VERDICT Not for the easily offended or the president of your local D.A.R.E. chapter, but an enjoyable ride for the rest of us.” —Amy Watts, Library Journal
“[A] delightful madcap novel . . . Readers will have lots of fun with this agile caper.” —Bob Smith, Mystery Scene
“A dazzling tale.” —BakedLife.com
“Fast-paced, and filled with improbable but engaging and often riotous characters, Baked by Mark Haskell Smith is one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a while.” —PotCouture.com
One bullet can really fuck up your day.
He walked out of his house and into the white-light white heat of a bullet exploding out the end of a handgun. A bullet that flew out of a passing SUV and burned a perfect black hole in his jacket—the one he got at the thrift store on Sunset, the one that said “Tigers” in bright orange script—pushing bits of his T-shirt into his chest as it tore through his skin. One bullet, slicing through his body, puncturing his right lung, the soft metal expanding as it traveled through his chest, tearing and burning tissue, breaking two ribs on its way out. The bullet that almost killed him. One hundred and twenty grains of lead that fucked up his day.
The bullet didn’t stop at his shattered ribs.
It kept going, blasting out of his body, blowing a hole in the other side of his jacket, flying along Perlita Avenue until it embedded itself with a clank in the side of a clean white-and-orange van with the name GEORGE BRAZIL PLUMBING & HEATING painted on the side. The plumber thought someone had thrown a rock at him.
Miro blinked. He was looking at the world sideways, his face resting in the soft grass. He could feel something wet and warm, a sticky liquid flowing over him. The pain, the actual sensation of a burning hot piece of metal ripping through his flesh, was so extreme that he almost didn’t feel anything. Maybe he was in shock.
He could hear people shouting, the distant sound of a siren, but he couldn’t move. It took too much energy to move.
His neighbor’s dog—a mangy old Pekinese whose body was riddled with hairless scabby patches from his constant chewing and clawing at his eczematic skin—walked up to him and started growling. Miro blinked. The dog crept closer and suddenly lunged forward and bit Miro on the arm. It was then that he had a thought, his first lucid moment since he saw the flash.
That fucking dog just bit me.
That’s what he tried to tell the paramedics, the Los Angeles Fire Department emergency medical technicians who were flipping him over, urgently rapping in medical code, checking his ABCs—airways, breathing, circulation—sticking needles in his arm and tubes down his throat.
“A dog bite is the least of your worries, sir.”
That’s what the female paramedic said to him. She called him “sir.” Like he was old.
Miro blinked. He saw his neighbors huddled on the other side of the street. He could hear the nosy Filipino granny who lived next door.
“He was up to something. I know that for sure.”
That fucking dog bit me.
One of the paramedics injected something into a tube that was hooked to his arm.
“Try and relax.”
Miro wasn’t feeling particularly tense but he nodded; he’d take their advice, he would try and relax.
A large Asian man with a shaved head and a mustache loomed over him. A Los Angeles Police Department badge dangled from a chain around his neck. His shirt was brightly colored, patterned with little drawings of palm trees, tiki torches, and the iconic Duke Kahanamoku surfing at Waikiki. He stuck his face next to Miro’s.
“Who shot you? Do you know?”
Miro smelled coffee. The smell triggered his second lucid thought of the afternoon.
“We can catch the crumb who did this. But we need your help.”
Miro blinked. A couple of young men wearing short-sleeved white shirts and ties stood off to the side. Their bicycles lay on the ground next to them. Mormons. One of them was praying out loud. Praying for him. The other, the one with a flattop crew cut, just stared wide-eyed.
As the paramedics hoisted the gurney into the back of the ambulance, Miro had his last lucid thought of the afternoon.