Book Review: Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente

As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?

A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

What I Thought:
The publisher Quirk Books is exactly that – quirky, and in a very good way. I’ve read a number of their books now and been impressed by their willingness to publish sometimes niche and often not particularly safe titles but I think it’s great that there is a home for these books, or else we all miss out.

Ten Dead Comedians owes much to the crime thriller tradition and, in fact, it’s very upfront in being a retelling of Christie’s And Then There Were None, but in Fred Van Lente’s story, the principal characters are comedians, drawn together to a private Caribbean island when legendary comedian Dustin Walker makes them an offer they can’t refuse…

Each of the comics is different in style and background, and each has something shady in their past but will they realise quickly enough that they are slowly being killed off and will they be able to find the killer in time?

This book is cleverly written, using the Christie story as a basis, and yet including plenty of original elements and some pretty canny and grisly deaths! The action on the island is interspersed with excerpts of each comedian’s famous routines which give clues as to why they have been marked for death. The only thing we know for sure is that someone on Dustin Walker’s exclusive private island (with no wifi and no phone signal by the way) wants the others dead; twists and turns and misdirection make it impossible to tell who that may be.

Both dark and funny, this book is hugely entertaining and definitely worth your time…

Ten Dead Comedians is published by Quirk Books. To find out more about this book and Fred Van Lente, check out his website, or you can connect with him on Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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