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    HECKLER by Dan Barton (see his website)


    Minotaur Books, April 2001

    Biff Kincaid, stand-up comic, gets a frantic call. Can he headline a Las Vegas comedy act--the star had met with an accident. Kincaid doesn't turn down a job but, when the accident turns out to be murder, he decides to investigate. He feels a responsibility toward comics and if a comic's critics are going to get violent, Kincaid wants to know.

    In HECKLER, author Dan Barton (see other reviews of novels by this author) takes the reader into the world of comedy, from open mike nights at the local bar to television. It's a fairly small world with its own secrets, but it's a world that Kincaid loves. Two years earlier, three comics had gone on the road and only two had returned. Now, one of them is dead and the other, a famous television star, is receiving threats. Kincaid is certain there's a connection between what happened at the Payroll Saloon and what is happening now.

    Barton knows his comedy and writes witty dialogue as well as dynamite action sequences. His description of the Hollywood lifestyle, in particular, is convincingly drawn. Less compelling is Barton's characterization. Kincaid, the point-of-view character, is motivated only by his feelings about comedy. I would have liked to see him develop more as a person, or at least explore why he is spending so much of his life acting like a detective.

    A mystery series with a comic as protagonist is a different twist and Barton is a writer with the talent and industry knowledge to pull it off.

    Three Stars

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