Mystery is not my go-to genre, but I’ve been interested in reading more mysteries lately. So when I saw Chasing Starlight by Teri Bailey Black for request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read an early copy because a murder mystery set during the Golden Age of Hollywood sounds awesome.
When Kate Hildebrand is forced to move to Hollywood to live with her grandfather, a washed-up Hollywood star, she thinks her life couldn’t get anymore tangled than when she was kidnapped as a child. Until she walks straight into a murder scene and onto the front page of the newspapers again. As Kate searches for clues, she begins to suspect everybody around her: the young men who rent rooms in her grandfather’s house, the neighbor girl who’s on her way to becoming a star, and even her grandfather.
While Chasing Starlight was a bit lighter and slower for a YA mystery than I’ve read before, I enjoyed the balance of historical details and Kate’s investigation of the murder. There’s something about the Golden Age of Hollywood that is so exhilarating. The shine of the spotlight, the glamour of the stars, the excitement of movie production―the details in this story bring this era to life with glitz and shadows, highlighting the good and bad of Hollywood.
Some of the details remind me of the movie Cats Don’t Dance, especially with the various characters unable to get roles because of what they look like or who they are. The brief touch on social issues during this time period is also a good balance to the murder mystery aspects.
As for the murder, the trickle of details kept me guessing at who the murderer was, and the author does a great job making you think it really could be any of the tenants of the household, including the owner and Kate’s grandfather, Oliver Banks. The way the author handles Kate’s past and being kidnapped as a child is well done and helps tie into the commentary about fame and news stories.
My favorite part of the book, though, was the focus on a granddaughter-grandfather relationship, especially since it starts off a bit rocky and off-kilter and blooms into something heartwarming and touching. It was a nice change of pace to have this kind of relationship at the forefront of the story.
I also liked the sweet romance that springs up between Kate and Hugo. It isn’t so overwhelming it distracts from the murder, but it’s enough to please YA audiences and give into that dream-like shine of Hollywood that “anything could happen.”
Chasing Starlight isn’t a long book so some of these events do run together and seem to resolve more quickly than I expected. But if you’re looking for a quick, light mystery set during this time frame, I’d definitely recommend Chasing Starlight.