The Midnight Show Murders (Billy Blessing Series #2)

The Midnight Show Murders (Billy Blessing Series #2)

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by Al Roker

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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Al Roker and Dick Lochte's The Talk Show Murders.

Professional chef turned amateur sleuth Billy Blessing finds himself in hot water when a brutal killing cancels a TV show—and its host—during its debut.

Billy has reluctantly agreed to fly westward and play second banana on a new


BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Al Roker and Dick Lochte's The Talk Show Murders.

Professional chef turned amateur sleuth Billy Blessing finds himself in hot water when a brutal killing cancels a TV show—and its host—during its debut.

Billy has reluctantly agreed to fly westward and play second banana on a new late-night talk show hosted by comic Desmond O’Day in Los Angeles, a city that brings up bad memories. Twenty years ago, Billy had accused obnoxious chef Roger Charbonnet of murder there. A tricked-up alibi freed Roger, who vowed vengeance—and Billy’s arrival in the City of Angels just may give Roger his chance. When a deadly explosion during a TV taping kills more than Desmond’s chance at high ratings, Billy is convinced that he was the intended target. With politics, infidelity, and high finance sprinkled in, the case turns out to have more ingredients than Billy could ever have imagined. And when a beautiful female TV producer convinces Billy to find the culprit himself—on camera—the table’s set for a conspiracy with too many cooks and far too many killers.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Great fun, full of nifty twists and turns.”—Carl Hiaasen

“Maybe Al Roker should quit his day job.”—James Patterson

Kirkus Reviews

A TV chef shifts both time slot and venue when his network sends him for a late-night stint in Hollywood.

Billy Blessing likes New York. He likes being near Blessing's Bistro, even when sharp-tongue hostess Cassandra Shaw puts him in his place. He likes his morning gig on Worldwide Broadcasting Network's Wake Up America! Los Angeles, on the other hand, holds only sad memories of his short-lived apprenticeship under Chef Ambrose Provoste, which was stopped dead by Provoste's boss Victor Anisette after Billy challenged the alibi Anisette provided for his buddy Roger Charbonnet, accused of killing girlfriend Tiffany Arden. But Gretchen Di Voss, Billy's current boss, wants Billy out on the West Coast as guest announcer for the debut of WBN's late-night entry O'Day At Night, featuring Irish comic-of-the-moment Desmond O'Day. Camping out in the guest house of the funnyman's rented villa gives Billy a ringside seat for all sorts of bad behavior from O'Day and his musical sidekick Jimmy Fitzpatrick. And it gives Billy access to novelist-screenwriter Harry Paynter, the spoiled brat co-writing Blessing's biography. But it also reconnects him with cowboy star Stew Gentry, one of the bright spots in his earlier L.A. sojourn. And Billy will need a friend when Des gets blown to bits onstage and the police suspect that the real target may have been his announcer.

Although Billy may be too good to be true, Roker and Lochte offer a satisfying entrée to follow the appetizer they provided in The Morning Show Murders (2009).

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Billy Blessing Series , #2
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Random House
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My love affair with Los Angeles began to wane twenty-three years ago, the morning a cleaning crew found Tiffany Arden's body in a dumpster behind Chez Anisette, a very popular restaurant of the day. Her head had been pulverized. If you're ghoulish enough to want a more detailed description than that, then go ahead and Google the media coverage of the murder.

There was a lot of it.

Much of it was accurate. Some was not. For example, it was widely reported that her murderer was unknown. Not true. I was pretty sure I knew who he was. And I knew that he was still at large, enjoying a rich, full life in the City of Angels.

"Just listen ta this, Billy." The gruff but lilting voice of Irish pop singer-guitarist Jimmy Fitzpatrick interrupted my morose thoughts with a statistic almost as disturbing. "There are two thousand, nine hundred an' forty-three things that can cock-up the average airplane, any one of 'em capable of plummetin' us to earth an' certain death. Would ya believe it?"

Fitz, my seatmate aboard American Airlines flight 349 to Los Angeles, was reading a cheery little nonbook he'd picked up at JFK, What Could Go Wrong?

"Thanks for sharing," I said, and picked up my airport purchase, a Walter Mosley paperback, from my lap, where I'd rested it while musing about poor Tiffany.

"O' course, this is not the average airplane, since we're travelin' in the comp'ny of the future king o' late-night tele," Fitz added, making sure he was heard by the king, who was sitting across the aisle.

Off camera and semi-relaxed, the comedian Desmond O'Day was a wiry bantamweight in his forties with a V-shaped face and short, neatly coifed hair so blond it was almost silver. He had a penchant for tight, black apparel, which presently included linen trousers and a T-shirt designed to display his workout arm muscles and mini-six-pack. He paused in his perusal of a script to glare over his rimless half-glasses at his shaggy-haired, bearded music director.

"Stop botherin' Billy, ya sod," he said. "The man's doin' us a big favor, travelin' all across the country to help us kick off the show."

Fitz, wincing from having incurred the displeasure of his old pal and new boss, said, "Sorry, Billy."

He gave me an apologetic smile and leaned back in his seat, silent as the late King Tut.

"A little conversation would be fine, Fitz," I said, "as long as it's about something other than us plummeting to the ground in a screaming death plunge, then being vaporized in a fireball of death."

He kept his lips zipped, evidently convinced that a command from Des O'Day was not to be taken lightly. He was a better judge of that than I. He'd known Des since they were boys together on the Emerald Isle, while I'd just met the man.

Oh, I'm Billy Blessing, by the way. Chef Billy Blessing, to be formal about it.

For a decade and a half, I served in other chefs' kitchens before opening my own place, Blessing's Bistro, in Manhattan. It's famous for its steaks and chops, and the food we prepare and serve has earned a top rating in Gault Milleau, of which I am quite proud.

My fame, such as it is, comes only indirectly from my culinary skills. I'm a cohost on the Worldwide Broadcasting Company's morning news and entertainment show Wake Up, America! weekdays seven to nine a.m. If you're one of the show's four million viewers, you've probably seen me, the guy who, I've been told, looks a little like a slightly stockier, clean-shaven (head as well as face) version of Eddie Murphy.

I provide a daily WUA! segment on food preparation, but I have other chores, too. I do remotes, interview visitors to NYC who line up on the street each morning outside the studio, review books, chat with authors who are flogging their wares, and, whenever possible, flog my own wares, which, in addition to the Bistro, include a weekly cooking show on the Wine & Dine Cable Network, Blessing's in the Kitchen, a line of premium frozen dinners, and a couple of cookbooks.

At that particular moment I was flying from New York to Los Angeles to add two new credits to my list. One of them involved the Irishman across the aisle. Though you couldn't have told it by his sour scowl, Des was very funny and quick-witted, and he'd parlayed success on the stand-up circuit and a featured role as the cynical, sex-obsessed photographer in the popular sitcom A Model Life into an upper-strata gig as host of his own show, O'Day at Night, WBC's entry in the post-prime-time talk-show sweepstakes, set to debut in precisely nine days.

I'd been tapped as the new show's first weekly guest announcer. Its producer, a Falstaffian wheeler-dealer named Max Slaughter, told me I'd been Des's first choice. My agent-lawyer, Wally Wing, who, unlike most members of both of his professions, has never heard the term "candy-coating," admitted that Des had wanted someone on the order of Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or, at the very least, the ex-governator of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gretchen Di Voss, the head of the network, somehow avoided laughing in his face and offered him Howie Mandell or me. Howie had other commitments.

"Why wouldn't I have other commitments?" I'd asked Wally.

"Well, one reason--Gretchen wants you to do it. She feels it would be, in her words, 'an act of synchronicity.' You'd be the bridge between Wake Up and At Night, getting viewers of the morning show to sample the late show while at the same time giving At Night's fans a taste of the morning show."

"I'd love to meet these viewers who are up from seven in the morning till after midnight," I'd replied. "But, okay, that explains why the network wants me to do the show. Why in God's name would I agree to spend two weeks in L.A., away from home, hearth, and restaurant?"

Wally had grinned and said, "The real reason's got nothing to do with the O'Day show. It's . . . wait for it . . . Sandy Selman wants to make a movie about you and the Felix thing."

The Felix thing. A typically Wally way of summing up one of the more unpleasant events of my life. A little more than a year ago, an executive at the network was murdered, and for a number of reasons, real or imagined, I was put at the top of the cops' suspect list. Then an international assassin known as Felix the Cat got involved and all hell broke loose. I was threatened, nearly roasted alive, and shot at. And I lost a woman I cared for.

The Felix thing.

"Okay," I said, "a guy I've never heard of wants to make a movie about a devastating experience I've spent the last year trying to forget. Tell me why I have to go to L.A. "

"You've never heard of Sandy Selman?" was Wally's response.

"Okay, I've heard of him. He makes movies that are ninety percent computer graphics, eight percent sex, and two percent end credits. So why do I have to go to L.A. "

"To write the book," Wally said in the singsong manner Big Bird uses to speak to kids.

"What book?"

"The book you're going to be writing in L.A."

"What makes you think I can write a book?"

"How hard can it be? Paris Hilton has written a book. Miley Cyrus has written a book. Hell, the goofy weatherman on the Today show's written five books. You may be the only person in show business who hasn't written a book."

"Well, I did the cookbooks," I said.

"My point exactly," Wally said.

"Why do I have to go to L.A. to write it? Last I checked, it was possible to write one in Manhattan."

"Not if we want Sandy Selman to produce the film version. He likes to be able to look over his writers' shoulders as they work. And don't worry about that. It's Harry Paynter's shoulders he'll be looking over."

"Ahhhhhh. Suddenly, it all becomes clear," I said. "I'm guessing Harry is one of your literary clients, and he's going to be helping me write the book."

"On the nose," Wally said, tapping his almost nonexistent schnoz in an impressive display of his expertise at charades. "He'll also be writing the screenplay."

"How altruistic of you, Wally! Oh, wait . . . in addition to your agent fees for both of us, you'll probably be getting a packager percent, too, right?"

"What's with the 'tude, bro? I assure you, this little jaunt is gonna be worth your while."

"It's not the money," I said. "I trust you to handle that. It's going to L.A."

"Spending two or three weeks on the coast is gonna kill you, Billy?"

Little did he know.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Al Roker is known to more than thirty million viewers for his work on NBC’s Today show, a role that has earned him ten Emmy awards. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Make Me Stop This Car!: Adventures in Fatherhood and The Morning Show Murders, the first novel in the Billy Blessing mystery series. An accomplished cook, Roker also has two cookbooks to his credit. Al Roker lives in Manhattan with his wife, ABC News and 20/20 correspondent Deborah Roberts, and has two daughters and a son.

Dick Lochte is the author of many popular crime novels, including the award-winning Sleeping Dog, named one of “the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century” by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. His crime fiction column ran for nearly a decade in the Los Angeles Times and earned him the 2003 Ellen Nehr Award for Excellence in Mystery Reviewing. He lives in Southern California.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Midnight Show Murders: A Billy Blessing Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maryrm More than 1 year ago
Good lighthearted easy murder mystery to read. Keeps you thinking of who didn't it. The second in the series you are getting to know the people better. Enjoyable
DGHDH More than 1 year ago
This book was purchased for my Daughter in Law for Christmas. She has not received the book on her Nook. Needless to say I am very upset.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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JTCDelVa More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Al's on the Today Show for years and have been impressed by both the Billy Blessing novels. I can hardly wait for the new one to appear. I had not realized til reading these that he also is an accomplished chef and has published cook books too.
aries68 More than 1 year ago
Midnight show murders book was great, great. Al Roker's 2nd murder mystery was not a disappointment. Read his 1st book, The morning show murders and was not disappointed by that book. His books are easy, light murder mystery books to read. Looking forward to his 3rd mystery book that comes out this year.
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Versel More than 1 year ago
It isn't that this is a "bad" book; it's a "bad" mystery book. The writing is well done, characters interesting, and the plot moves along. All good for a novel; however, the author does the unthinkable for a mystery--in the last 40 or so pages, Roker sets up an entire back story that the reader had no way of knowing, introduces additional plot points that don't make a whole lot of sense, and then uses the biggest cop out imaginable to get a happily ever after (our hero doesn't get killed) ending. If you want a fun, behind the scenes of Hollywood type novel, read it. Looking for a good murder mystery? Look elsewhere.
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EJillW More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, but not nearly as much as the first one, Morning Show Murders. Can't wait for your new the way you incorporate "current" topics into both of the books. Funny, well written and good plots.
CastleladyKG More than 1 year ago
Midnight show murders follows Billy Blessing out to LA. I would say he should have stayed in New York. The Morning show murders was so much better. There were too many characters introduced at the beginning and made the story hard to follow. The plot seemed thin too. With all the twists and turns and new characters that were introduced it was impossible to put this book down, or else you would totally forget what was going on. There were some funny parts but it wasn't a home run.
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KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
The second in the Billy Blessing series, The Midnight Show Murders was most definately my favorite. Al's signature humor was obvious throughout the novel, blending wittiness and mystery well. I love the eclecticness of the characters in the novels and how they fit into the storyline without that formula feel to the mystery. There were times when I was able to guess what was going to happen next, but intead of making the story predictable, it had the opposite effect. It led the reader to what seemed to be an obvious conclusion, only to have it turn out to be totally different and unexpected. Definately a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Although his doubts creep up and down his spine without a respite, Manhattan's Blessing Bistro's owner and the Morning Show TV personality Chef Billy Blessing returns to Los Angeles for a job. He joins a new nighttime talk show O'Day at Night. Billy soon knows his gut was right when someone murders Des O'Day host of the show. Billy believes the homicide is tied to a cold case killing of his friend Tiffany Arden over two decades ago. That homicide is why Billy fled Southern California as the person Roger Charbonnet he suspected committed the crime threatened to kill him if he remained in town. To his shock Charbonnet asks Billy to investigate the murder of O'Day. The second Chef Blessing culinary amateur sleuth takes the hero across the continent where he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. The culprit is relatively easy to spot, but no one will care as the fun in the story line is Blessing's tour of Hollywood. Readers will root for the writing team of Al Roker and Dick Lochte to cook up another entertaining tale of murder and TV meals. Harriet Klausner