FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for coverage and an unbiased review. Thanks to Atheneum Books for including us in the blog tour and for sponsoring the giveaway of 1 hardcover copy of Murder Among the Stars by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan.
Murder Among the Stars
A Lulu Kelly Mystery (Book 2)
by Adam Shankman
and Laura L. Sullivan
June 13, 2017 from Atheneum Books
About the Book
After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?
After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town's number one export, and it's hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.
Murder Among the Stars opens with 17-year-old Lulu Kelly's arrival at Hearst Castle for a strange film audition set up as a weekend party. It isn't long before the bodies start hitting the floor, and despite her reservations in the wake of a very recent scandal, Lulu can't help but be drawn into the investigation. Unfortunately, as one character wryly notes, she's clever enough to get into scrapes, but not quite clever enough to get out of them.
There's a giant cast which makes this story a little difficult to track, even if the reader is familiar with real life figures of the 1930's, including publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and movie stars such as Jean Harlow. The story touches on subjects such as prohibition, the mafia, old Hollywood, and family drama, while taking the reader on a fantasy tour of "the ranch", the Hearsts' sprawling estate where Lulu eventually finds herself somewhat trapped. The party itself wouldn't have been so terrible if she could just get a few moments alone with her beau, and if a blackmailer, a murderer, or possibly both weren't on the loose.
The mixture of murder and tinsel town gossip can seem quite clichéd, even with the modern lens applied to the accusation of a young black man found to be trespassing on the estate, or the roles of women, onscreen and off. The pairing of a rags-to-riches heroine paired with a riches-to-rags boyfriend also seems a bit too neat and symmetrical. Even as the reader is lulled by the steady predictability of the plot, the field of suspects is quite wide, and abundant red herrings will keep all but the most expert of mystery readers guessing.
The writing often tells more than it shows, and that may be a byproduct of involving what seems like an unnecessarily long list of characters. But even for those who might not be too pleased with this novel, it may still give one a hankering to look up the true stories woven into the fabric of this book's plot. I for one would sit through a two-hour TV movie of this, if they could shoot it at Hearst Castle, with authentic costumes and music, and maybe pass Rose McIver off as 10 years younger (I can totally see it in my mind's eye already).
(-) weak style, had to look up what year this would have been set in, secondary/tertiary characters were so many! and confusing
(-) love triangle forming/formed? please no.
(+) kept me guessing almost until the end
(+) I like Lulu and Patricia
(+) history is stranger than fiction
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Blog Tour Schedule
8/27/17 - Bumbles & Fairytales - Author interview
8/28/17- Fiktshun - Author interview
8/29/17 - Midsummer Reads - Review & music playlist
8/30/17 - Twinning for Books - Chapter excerpt
8/31/17 - The Hollow Cupboards - Review
9/1/17 - Haunting of Orchid - Lyrics post
9/2/17 - Falling for YA - Spotlight post
9/3/17 - Read Now Sleep Later - Review