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    Review of DEAD CROWD by Dan Barton (see his website)


    Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2002

    When stand-up comic Biff Kincaid shows up to collect his pay, he finds the club manager stabbed and dying, and is then knocked unconscious. Yet the manager had hinted at real money and had told Biff about an secret video of a prison comedy routine that had lead to a prison riot and to two prisoners escaping. Biff isn't much of a detective but he is the best comic on the case--and his instincts tell him that only someone who understands the underworld of comedians will be able to get to the bottom of the murder--and make sure that Biff's next run-in with the killer doesn't end up as something worse than a lump on his head.

    Biff's investigations lead him through Los Angeles's comedy clubs, into its television studios, and into a world of voodoo and dangerous prisoners (one of whom really thinks he can do comedy). A Biff Kincaid mystery wouldn't be complete without a romantic entanglement and DEAD CROWD delivers on this requirement as well. Biff gradually learns the truth, but can he stay alive long enough to share what he learns with the police?

    Author Dan Barton (see other reviews of novels by this author) has shown increasing maturity as the Biff Kincaid series progresses and DEAD CROWD is the best yet. Although it doesn't delve as deeply into the world of the stand-up comic as do some of the earlier novels in the series, DEAD CROWD develops a more sophisticated Biff Kincaid and a somewhat more convincing adventure line. As with the earlier novels, Barton's background as a stand-up comic shows through and enhances the reading experience.

    Best yet in an enjoyable series.

    Four Stars

    Purchase DEAD CROWD from (hardback).