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Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Starlet by Mary McNamara

The Starlet: A NovelPublisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1439149844
Pages: 304 pgs
Genre: Mystery
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
It’s a not-so-well-respected rule in Hollywood that what happens on location stays on location. But when a hot young leading man winds up dead in his Rome hotel room, his costar’s life is about to go off the rails in a very public way—even by celeb standards. At the tender age of twenty-three, Mercy Talbot has won an Oscar, battled addiction, wrecked more than her share of cars, and burned down her house. Her look-alike mother keeps her on a tight leash (and fueled with an endless supply of OxyContin and cocaine) and her producers demand a grueling schedule. By the time she stumbles across Juliette Greyson, a Hollywood insider on a much-needed vacation, Mercy is surrounded by photographers and about to emerge drunk, high, and naked from a public fountain. Whisking her away to an idyllic Tuscan ‘retreat,’ Juliette is about to discover another rule of Hollywood: wherever the starlet may go, the drama will follow. 

My Review:
What has it been with mysteries lately? All of them have been so good. I have found that nothing is more perfect in the sweltering heat than a good mystery to distract you. I have to admit that I have hedged a bit in reading them. Usually mysteries are not my thing at all. There are too many twists and turns for my very linear thinking brain to comprehend. I was also especially worried about this book because Hollywood is not my favorite topic at all. In my rather limited experience, books about Hollywood tend to be brain-meltingly stupid. I was relived when I saw that The Starlet was set in Italy and that the plot nor the characters where as vapid as I thought. 

In my experience with mysteries, the characters tend to be quite flat and one-dimensional and good characterization is a huge “Must” in my book. I was pleasantly surprised at how deep and interesting the characters were in The Startlet. Juliette was a really likeable heroine. She had such a good head on her shoulders in the midst of all the crazy Hollywood-type people and drama. She was a breath of fresh air…a female character without any hang ups or pretentions. Mercy Talbot, the starlet in a drug-induced tailspin, was not what I expected. She was not as vapid as you would expect from a Hollywood-type. She was a sad character and, ultimately, a sympathetic one. She is the type you want to pull out of the book and give her a good mix of ass-kicking and affection and send her back healthier and happier. All of the other characters were excellent and even though most of them were not the most well-adjusted people on the planet, they were likeable and relatable.

 Toward the end of the book, I did find that I was much less interested in the mystery than in the growth of the characters. For a person who needs good characters to like a book, this is a good thing but it sort of defeats the purpose of a mystery novel to not care about the actual mystery. 

The Starlet was a pleasant surprise. Anyone who is looking for a lighthearted and fun mystery should pick this one up.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.



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