Sunday, November 3, 2013

Comedians in Crime

Killer Routine: a Last Laff mystery (M)
by Alan Orloff

"Orloff's entertaining first in a new series set in the standup comedy world immediately engages the reader's sympathies with the lead's tragic backstory. Channing Hayes stopped performing after the car accident that took the life of his fiancee, Lauren Dempsey, and left him scarred and maimed. Hayes, now the co-owner of the Last Laff Comedy Club in northern Virginia, has been encouraging Lauren's sister, Heather, to make her solo appearance before the microphone. But the night of Heather's debut, she disappears right before she's about to go on, a puzzle that may be connected with a series of murders. Hayes's frantic search for his almost-sister-in-law meets with relative indifference, both from law enforcement and from family members familiar with Heather's flaking out in the past. Despite a mundane solution to the mystery, Orloff does a great job of evoking smalltime, struggling comedy clubs" - Publisher Weekly

The Comedy is Finished (M)
by Donald E. Westlake

"It's 1977. The Vietnam War and Watergate are very recent history. Comedian Koo Davis, however, continues to do what he's been doing for four decades: tell jokes. But just before the taping of his TV special, Koo is kidnapped by the People's Revolutionary Army. The kidnappers demand that 10 imprisoned radicals be given safe passage out of the U.S. in return for Koo. The Comedy Is Finished is a tense, compelling story of captive, captors, and an FBI agent, but it's also a painfully insightful portrait of a very dark period in U.S. history. All the main characters' lives have been affected by the war or Watergate, and Westlake, who wrote the novel in the late 1970s, gives each plenty of opportunity to lament what happened to them and relive some of this country's darkest years. It's very different from Westlake's beloved comic crime capers, and although readers old enough to remember those years may find the memories dredged up to be unpleasant, they will probably be hard-pressed to put the book down." - Booklist

Lucky Stuff (M)
by Sharon Fiffer

"With her divorce final, Jane must clear out her antique collection and sell her house. Now homeless, Jane heads to her hometown in Illinois to find it, too, has been turned upside-down. Lucky Miller, a little-known comedian, is staging a comeback. Suspicious, Jane's mother Nellie hires Jane to investigate. Still, Nellie may be the least of Lucky's problems when a driver on his crew turns up dead hours after claiming that Lucky tried to kill him." - publisher

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