Ten Dead Comedians (2017) by Fred Van Lente

There is so much classic crime easily available that I haven’t read that I rarely read modern mysteries. Generally, I figure that if something’s really good people will still be talking about it in twenty years’ time and I’ll give it a go then. But I couldn’t resist an update of the island-based serial killer subgenre.

Nine comedians, at various stages of their careers are invited to take part in a new project by comedy legend Dustin Walker on his private Caribbean island. Upon arrival they find a three by three set of photos of them on the wall of a gallery – no prizes for guessing what’s going to happen to those as we go through the book – and they soon see a final video message from their host. A body is discovered but then immediately lost so there is a possibility that it could be a prank but then the murders start and don’t stop.

Interestingly, the murder methods have more in common with the recently re-published “The Invisible Host” than with And Then There Were None so maybe they’d have had more chance surviving if they’d made different choices. I was surprised by the final reveal, but there were two obvious clues which I missed. In fact if you read everything carefully, you should be able to determine another key part of the solution.

The problem for me was the comedy element, which I know is a very subjective area, but mainly because stand-up is meant to be seen and heard, not read from the page, and so the between chapter sections just didn’t really work for me.

As I bought it secondhand, I got my £2 worth from it, but couldn’t advise buying it new. And we won’t be talking about it in twenty years’ time.


Whilst searching for a cover image, I found a description which said “And Then There Were None but with 100% more jokes than Agatha Christie”. Now I don’t remember any jokes in the original, but even if there had been one or two, then 100% more would only be an additional one or two. So either the writer of that quote is bad at maths or was being accurate and really didn’t find it funny!



2 thoughts on “Ten Dead Comedians (2017) by Fred Van Lente”

  1. I hated this – mostly because it REALLY isn’t funny. The situations aren’t funny, and all the “comic” routines are dead weight. If it had made me smile even once, I might have not been so annoyed with it.


  2. I heard of this — can’t remember where — but for some reason my interest cooled pretty quickly. It sounded like it was more about those comedy routines than the mystery, and as such reminded me why I read so many classic murder stories. Your take has simply reinforced my belief that I can glide past this without too much regret. And maybe I’ll find a copy in 20 years and think “Oh, hey, I remember hearing about that…”


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