Book Report: A mixture of murder, science, artistry abound for avid readersAs if he doesn’t have enough to do with his myriad television appearances, Today show weatherman/foodie and all-around good guy Al Roker has written his first mystery, “The Morning Show Murders” (Delacorte Press, $26).
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
As if he doesn’t have enough to do with his myriad television appearances, Today show weatherman/foodie and all-around good guy Al Roker has written his first mystery, “The Morning Show Murders” (Delacorte Press, $26).
With an assist from longtime mystery reviewer/writer, Dick Lochte, Roker has created a fast-paced mystery set in the craziness of network television.
His hero is Billy Blessing, who looks like a tubby Eddie Murphy. Billy’s a network TV personality, who operates a Zagat recommended restaurant in lower Manhattan. Blessing is obviously modeled on Roker because everyone thinks he’s a jolly, smiling laid-back guy.
Not so says Billy, the book’s narrator. He gets angry just like everyone else.
One result of reading “The Morning Show Murders” is that one will probably never watch Roker again without wondering what he’s thinking as he grins out at the TV audience.
When the book came out two months ago, scuttlebutt had it that network folks were worried about which one of them would be fictionally “murdered” in the book.
Turns out that the first fellow murdered was Rudy Gallagher, who was poisoned eating an order of coq au vin at Billy’s restaurant, and who was also the network head. The District Attorney figures Billy is the murderer and then Roker thickens the plot with a “roux” made up of Afghan agents, international spies, all manner of crazies.
Years back a friend of mine attended a Roman Catholic high school. One day a student asked a priestly science teacher why the church accepted the theory of evolution.
The priest smiled and said, “We learned our lesson from our experience with Galileo.”
The priest would have enjoyed Kim Stanley Robinson’s new offering, “Galileo’s Dream” (Ballantine Books, $26), a science fiction take on Galileo’s problems with the church, his execution, and his nudge forward in time to assure that science would survive the onslaughts of religion.
On the regional front Lerner Publications is continuing a fascinating project created by Bob Raczka, an ad exec in Glen Ellyn, Ill., in which the publisher reproduces high quality paintings by famous artists, accompanied by “interviews” with the artists’ subjects.
For instance, his new book is “The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art,” by Bob Raczka ((First Avenue Editions, $9.95). The book opens with Raczka interviewing Jan Vermeer’s famous painting of “The Milkmaid.”
Bob: You have always been one of Vermeer’s most popular paintings. Does this surprise you?
Maid: You mean because I’m just a maid?
Bob: Well I wouldn’t put it quite that way.
Maid: It’s OK. I know I’m not as pretty or mysterious as the “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” But I don’t measure myself against other paintings.
Bob: You are referring of course to one of Vermeer’s other portraits, called “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” She certainly has been popular lately, with both a book and movie being made about her. Do you hope to be the subject of a book or a movie someday?
Maid: Heavens no. She’s a lovely girl, and I’m happy for her, but we’re two completely different paintings.
Bob: You said earlier, “I’m just a maid,” but there is something beautiful and even heroic about you.
Maid: Thank you for saying so. Master Vermeer was very good at capturing the beauty of everyday life. I’m just a housemaid pouring milk, but somehow he made me more than that. He used many visual tricks.
Bob: Like what?
Maid: Oh, like playing with light and dark. Look at my right hand, the one holding the handle of the pitcher. Do you see how the light coming through the window makes it bright?
Well, you get the picture. Lerner says it’s a book for kids 8 to 18. I’m lots older than that, but I think I learned something.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 426-9554.