Pages: 304 pgs
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
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.
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.