In an homage to And Then There Were None, a group of comedians is picked off one by one as they try to out-personality one another.
When a disparate collection of nine comedians receives the invitation to join in a collaborative enterprise organized by the famed Dustin Walker on his little Saint Martin island, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. Each of the invitees seems to fit in with a modern stand-up archetype. For example, Ruby Ng, the loudmouth lesbian, ditches her own wedding to hoof it down to paradise. When the group arrives, they’re greeted by Meredith Ladipo, Dustin’s assistant, who tells them that Dustin’s indisposed but will meet with them soon, and the performers settle in the best way they know: one-upping each other with tales of fame, fortune, and funny. Some members of the group, like formerly famous Steve Gordon and feminist funnywoman Zoe Schwartz, pair up and get to know each other better, while others, like high-strung William Griffith, are more concerned with their connections back home and complain bitterly about the lack of Wi-Fi. Gathered to watch a video left by their host that’s broadcast live via GoPro, the whole bunch bears witness to Dustin’s death and wonders what’s next. As their stay on the island continues, members of the group are picked off one by one, leaving the survivors to wonder how long each one can last and whether it’s even worth figuring out who’s behind the murders.
Van Lente, a comic-book writer publishing his first mystery, focuses more closely on the big picture than its components. Even so, his plot requires so many moving parts that readers may feel he should have included a Cast of Characters, like all those Agatha Christie paperbacks he's emulating.