Roger Dale

Created by Steve Allen

“I tried to sniff coke once, but the bubbles got in my nose.”

Genial TV star and would-be TV-era renaissance man (ask your grandparents) Steve Allen was many things during his long and varied career: comedian, actor, writer, game show and talk show host (he was the first host of The Tonight Show), composer (he allegedly wrote over 14000 songs), musician, raconteur and… mystery writer.

Perhaps it was the challenge of a new field to conquer, perhaps it was a genuine affection for the genre or maybe it was just a last chance to hang onto his by-then slowly waning popularity.

The Talk Show Murders (1982), his first attempt at what would be several lightweight, star-studded mystery novels, was a private eye caper featuring LA gumshoe ROGER DALE, a rather slick operator who’s called in when someone starts bumping off talk show guests at random (and on-air), thereby threatening the livelihood of Steve’s pals Johnny Carlson, Merv Griffin, Phil Donahue, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore, Dick Cavett and Toni Tennille, on whose show the first murder takes place.

Allen himself, never afraid of the spotlight, injects himself into the plot and narrates much of the proceedings, working with Dale to crack the high-profile case. Naturally, Jayne Meadows, Allen’s wife, makes several appearances, playing Nora to Steve’s Nick, and there are a parade of then-popular, if not necessarily particularly hip, celebrities (Burt Reynolds, Luciano Pavarotti, John Davidson, et al).

THE John Davidson? Oh, wow…

In subsequent books, Allen chucked Dale, and took over the role of detective himself, with Jayne and he always rushing to the aid of some celebrity pal or another who’s in a jam.

The Talk Show Murders, it turns out, was in part ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon. Allen’s nine subsequent mystery novels were partially ghosted by Robert Westbrook.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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