Fred Van Lente’s brilliant debut is both an 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!
Van Lente was raised by a mystery-loving mother (who preferred Dorothy Sayers to Agatha Christie, but we won’t hold that against her) and a wisecracking Woody Allen-lookalike scientist father in what appears to be some kind of genetic experiment to write his first novel, TEN DEAD COMEDIANS, even though neither parent nor the son himself would know it for many years.
Van Lente spent his time between birth and authoring Ten Dead Comedians becoming the #1 New York Times best selling writer of graphic novels like Cowboys & Aliens (the basis of the feature film), Odd is on Our Side with Dean R. Koontz, and several entries the gorily funny Marvel Zombies series.
He did some other things too, but they hardly seem worth mentioning.