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Dead Famous Paperback – September 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


“A book with pace and wit, real tension… and a big on–screen climax.” -- Independent

“One of the best whodunits I have ever read… a funny, gripping, hugely entertaining thriller.” -- The Sunday Telegraph

“Wry, fast, and fiendishly clever.” -- The Times

From the Publisher

One house, ten contestants, thirty cameras, forty microphones, one murder… and no evidence. A Number–One Bestseller in Britain, Dead Famous is a killer of a read from Ben Elton—Reality TV as you’ ve never seen it before. Ben Elton’s television credits include The Young Ones, Blackadder, and The Thin Blue Line. He is also the author of a string of best–selling novels, including Popcorn, which won the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger Award, Blast from the Past, and Inconceivable.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers; New Ed edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552999458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999458
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E A Glaser on August 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Dead Famous" is both a scathing parody of the "Big Brother"-style reality TV show and a potboiler of a murder mystery. It's also one of the best page-turners I've ever read. You meet the ten "inmates" in the trash-TV show "House Arrest Three" at the very beginning, and find out that a murder occurs on the set under the watchful eye of the cameras, but the identity of the victim isn't even revealed until halfway through the book. The killer, of course, is not revealed until the end of the book. So the book reads very fast -- I finished it in a couple of days -- partly because author Ben Elton parcels out the revelations at just the right intervals to keep you hooked.

But Elton's main reason to write the book is so he can wickedly skewer the kind of people who pursue fame on reality TV shows, as well as the adoring fans who lap up the idiocy as long as it's "good telly". I'd fault Elton for being so misanthropic if I didn't agree with him. The author's spokesman in the novel is the policeman heading the murder case, a traditional old fogey who complains constantly about having to watch the "House Arrest" tapes for clues. The policeman's unhipness is also a source of humor in the book, so it seems like Elton can also make fun of himself in the midst of his moral outrage. I especially enjoyed his mockery of the Minister of Culture, who appears on a TV program to emphasize how the government supports quality programs like "House Arrest", because we have to listen to young people and give them what they want, because they are our future. Elton's exciting murder mystery is a fancy wrapper around a bitter piece of candy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ventura Angelo on July 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Get ready for a satire of the "Big Brother" kind of programs that's also a modern version of the classical mystery story : a small group of people enclosed in a limited space,one of them a killer:Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" or " Murder in the sky" spring to mind. The satire and the mystery intertwine in a delicious manner,so that the clues to the reader (there are some) are almost undetectable. The charachters are plausible, the interplay sometimes wildly funny. I've loved it, especially the trick of adding a further touch of uncertainty, by letting you guess who the victim shall be. The end is pure Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot: the suspects re-united,and the detective who having summarised the case, absolves the innocents and culminate pointing the index finger to the culprit. All in the modern showbiz multimedial setting. That's also a social satire from a conservative point of view, and some point Ben Elton makes are worth consideration. What can I say more? Dead Famous has to be read to be believed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Cornforth on April 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ben Elton writes as he performs - 100 miles an hour with few stops for breath. Warning - do not start reading this unless you have time to finish it in one sitting. Once you have started you will not stop. The old formula of the whodunnit story bringing together a group of people under one roof is brilliantly translated into a 'Big Brother' house. The whole thing is televised by Peeping Tom Productions, including the murder.
The inmates are repulsive in every way. Only the physically repulsive anarchist Woggle is a likeable character although he also has his dark side. Best of all is the portrayal of the cynicism of reality TV. The ending was a touch predictable but no less entertaining and clever for that. A great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gordon M. Crawford on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wicked. Fair play to Ben for a really bigged up top book. A whodunnit and a satire on exploitative reality shows in one. In Dead Famous a collection of misfits and wannabees are penned into a Big Brother type house for 10 weeks, but the difference this time is that one of them is actually murdered. Elton manages to keep you guessing for the first half of the book on the identity of the victim and for the second half on the identity of the murderer. Meanwhile the show's producers cynically manipulate "the reality" to make "really good telly", taking comments out of context and splicing dialogue to non-contemporaneous images.
Elton exposes the hip young culture of many modern TV shows for what it is - vapid, while at the same time taking swipes at the politicians and social commentators who try and curry favour by appearing on such shows and feigning empathy with the values espoused. When left wingers do it they look silly, but when right wingers do it they look ridiculous.
At the same time he actually champions the experienced but so-not-with-it Inspector Coleridge who brilliantly unfolds the mystery of the "House Arrest" set, using his love of MacBeth as a guide.
What I like about Elton is that although he may often appear as an anti-establishment figure, he is prepared to support what is good and moral in people like Colerdidge and condemn the loser values of the Reality TV genre.
Only minor grumble about the book's credibility was the fact that the police allowed the show to continue after the murder - they would of course have kept the crime scene isolated for longer. Elton could have used the replica set for the continuation of the game and been more credible.
So in summary a really amusing book, which exposes the reality TV genre (if it really needed exposing) for what it is.
You might not be too happy with your kids (<16) reading this because of the language, appropriate and realistic though it might be.
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