Fred Van Lente’s brilliant debut is both a savagely funny homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire.
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!
Comics author Van Lente (Action Philosophers!) makes his fiction debut with a high-concept riff on Agatha Christie's classic Ten Little Indians. Dustin Walker, an actor who's best known from an improv comedy TV series and a movie franchise that started with Help! I Married a Cat, has invited a variety of prominent comedians to an isolated island in the Caribbean, including Janet Kahn, an insult comic; Oliver Rees, the creator of the Orange Baby Man character (which he's successfully franchised); and William Griffith, who performs in character as the redneck Billy the Contractor. The murders begin soon after everyone arrives, and their host accuses them, via a recording, of being guilty of crimes against comedy. Before long, the guests conclude that the killer is one of their own. Christie fans may enjoy seeing how Van Lente redoes Ten Little Indians for the digital age, and others will appreciate the entertainment industry satire, but the humor may be just too broad or tasteless in places for some.