Don’t pass over ‘Murders’


Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.

There are things in your past that are just best forgotten.

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“The Talk Show Murders” by Al Roker and Dick Lochte, c. 2011, Delacorte Press, $26, 290 pages. (Special to the Guardian)

Oh, sure, they might have been mere youthful indiscretions, things that others would brush away but that are endlessly mortifying to you. They make you cringe, they make you blush, keep your mouth shut, or avoid certain places or people.

They might have even been illegal.

Upholding his reputation, Chef Billy Blessing was careful to hide embarrassments, too. So careful that few knew he had spent time in prison. But in the new book, "The Talk Show Murders" by Al Roker and Dick Lochte, Blessing's secret past was no blessing.

Edward "Pat" Patton was a former cop with shady renown. He was known around Chicago as a man who stirred up trouble.

Chef Billy Blessing, in town for an interview, had an encounter with Patton on the set and disliked him immediately. Blessing liked him even less when Patton mentioned that Blessing's face was familiar.

Years ago, before becoming a chef, TV host and writer, Billy Blessing was known as Billy Blanchard. And in 1986, Billy Blanchard was arrested for fraud and went to prison.

It was a secret that Blessing had buried, hoping it would stay that way.

But Patton was a big mouth who wanted Blessing to pay to keep that big mouth shut.

And then Pat Patton was found beaten to death, as was a young man who was thinly connected to Patton. The deaths of two men who knew too much might have come as a relief to Chef Billy Blessing until someone decided that they wanted Blessing dead, too.

Author and TV personality Al Roker packs the people into this whodunit, but his real-life work lends an air of authenticity to this tangled crime novel, an authenticity that's furthered by crime and co-writer Dick Lochte.

If this is your first Billy Blessing novel, that's OK. Read on, then go find the others. For fans old and new, "The Talk Show Murders" is a book not to be passed.

Terri Schlichenmeyer never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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