Allen, self-described ``comedian, talk show host, composer, writer, intellectual, and detective extraordinaire,'' returns to both television and detective work when his old family friend Cat Lawrence begs him to spend two weeks filling in for Peter McDavis, her absent co-anchor on Good Morning, U.S.A. Peter's fled to Santa Fe in response to a rash of accidents on the set, and during Steve's first morning--a hilarious vignette that allows him to skewer the timeless vacuity of talk shows at their talkiest--he can see the toll the jinx has taken on the bickering production staff. At least soundman Dennis Lovelace doesn't have to worry; minutes after Steve's first episode wraps, he's found with Steve's mike cord wrapped around his neck. The obvious suspects are Steve, whose patter doesn't prevent New York's finest from dragging him off to the station, and Cat, whose past is more checkered than a linoleum floor. But Steve, fresh from dispensing soothing advice to Dennis's astral spirit (``I can't take a deep breath, Mr. Allen. . . . That's the problem!'') during a sÇance, soon finds so many outsized skeletons in the closets of co-anchor Peter (not really in Santa Fe), producer Zeke Roth (paying off a blackmailer), newscaster Carol Ardman (says it's not really blackmail), and broadcasting titan Stephen Kinley II (drove his wild son out of his home hundreds of years ago) that you'll need a crystal ball to pick out the killer. A lovely recovery from last year's self-advertising Murder on the Atlantic. It's such a pleasure to see Steve back on the air that you'll be sorry it's only a novel.