NBC’s Today Show weather anchor debuts with a crisp puzzler played out on and off the set of an early-morning news show.
Chef Billy Blessing is well-named. His upscale New York eatery is booked solid, and he has his own show, Blessing’s in the Kitchen, on the Wine and Dine Cable Network, plus a regular spot on Wake Up! America. But his charmed life screeches to a halt when his producer dies after eating a poisoned dinner from Blessing’s Bistro. NYPD’s Detective Solomon, who thinks of coq au vin as chicken with gravy, shuts down Blessing’s joint, letting him know that even though Billy quarreled with Rudy shortly before his demise, and even though Rudy was canoodling with Billy’s old squeeze, TV exec Gretchen Di Voss, Billy isn’t his only suspect—just his main suspect. But Chef Billy isn’t addled by too much sauce béarnaise; he knows that Rudy was in Iraq when a mercenary from Touchstone Security was killed in a Baghdad bar. Cameraman Phil Bruno has some tape of the fight, but before he can pass it to Billy and his Wake Up! costar Gin McCauley, Phil’s Meatpacking District loft goes up in flames. Crude drawings left at the scene point to the work of Felix the Cat, a shadowy assassin who hits targets worldwide. What brings Felix to New York is a secret only Billy’s Sabatier-sharp mind can penetrate.
Crackling dialogue and well-crafted settings lift Roker’s initial collaboration with veteran Lochte (Croaked!, 2007, etc.) above the typical celeb roman-à-clef.