19 April 2006
I'm a great fan of Ben Elton. His book 'This Other Eden' is one of my favourite fiction books of all time, although it obviously became a bestseller on the strength of his name rather than the accessibility of its story about eco-armageddon. So it's with a mixture of grudging admiration and disappointment that I read 'Dead Famous': Admiration because it's written to a perfect blockbuster formula - if you want a masterclass in producing a bestseller, there are worse places to start; but disappointment because his earlier books show he's capable of more ambitious writing and of creating more imaginative stories.
The book is about a murder committed inside the Big Brother house, neatly fictionalised for this book. It's satire rather than comedy, so don't expect to chuckle much. The time zones jump around, and Elton's desire to withold the name of the victim for the first third of the book makes for some contrived writing. At times it feels padded. But it's a page-turner, easy to read, with some spot-on descriptions of the ghastly characters you see on shows like Big Brother. You get the feeling Elton churned this out pretty quickly, but as long as you read it pretty quickly too you'll be entertained if not impressed.