(Edited from the book jacket cover)
Steve Allen, hailed by Sidney Sheldon as "a master of the comic who-done-it", is back on the boards. this time, TV's renaissance man plays host to an all-star comedy line-up, and discovers that every joke has its price -- especially when the punchline is a real killer.
Benny Hartman is some trouper. Here he is, stone cold dead, and he's still drawing crowds. The funeral for the 85-year-old cigar-chomping veteran of vaudeville, radio, stage and screen, has attracted every comedy superstar in Hollywood. But the guest of honor at this black-tie, A-list, Forest Lawn affair is soon to be upstaged by Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows. Just as Benny is being laid to rest, the famous sleuths discover slapstick king, Terry Parker, stabbed in the back in front of a mausoleum--a final mysterious word on his lips..."Ham."
Which one of Steve's old cronies could possibly be capable of murder? Considering the victim's dying word, it could be just about anyone: from the neurotic New York stand-up whose California shrink is playing with his mind, to the widow Hartman, a starstruck floozie soliciting for a permanent position on the "Walk of Fame," to the granddaddy of the "golden age of television comedy" whose grudges against his competition are as old as his jokes. And with the all-important "Comedy Award" ceremony fast approaching, the competition in Tinsel Town is getting pretty stiff. Just ask the latest funnyman harpooned in the Hollywood Hills.
Which leaves everyone to wonder who's next on the bill to suffer the fatal barbs of the comedy world's most murderous critic?
When it comes to a murder investigation--and a good joke--Steve Allen knows that timing is everything. And with shtick this deadly, it has to be right on target. Because if the celebrity sleuth makes one false move, a cold-blooded killer is going to get the last laugh.