Take the glamour of old Hollywood, the heady rush of first love, and the tension of chasing secrets. Oh, topped off with an unsolved murder. That’s what you get when you open the pages of Chasing Starlight.
Kate Hildebrand hasn’t had an easy life. And we get a glimpse of that in the first sentence. Not even Hollywood, an easily recognizable location, was what she imagined.
But Kate’s story doesn’t start the way we’d expect a Hollywood story to begin. She isn’t there with dreams of fame and film. But as a last resort. Her aunt’s new husband cut Kate off and since her parent’s died a few years ago, Kate has no choice but to live with her elusive ex-film star grandfather, Oliver Banks.
Of course, he isn’t there to greet her at the train station, and even though it’s the 1930’s, he doesn’t have a working telephone. With nothing but an address, Kate makes her way to her new life.
But it turns out life has not been kind to Oliver Banks either. His Hollywood mansion is dilapidated and filled with boarders, several that seem potentially criminal. But with nowhere else to go, Kate has no choice but to stay.
The boarders turn out to be aspiring actors and when Kate manages to use her infamy to get them all auditions while befriending their neighbor, Kate wonders if life in Hollywood might not be so bad. Until she discovers a dead body in the kitchen.
With ties to the mob and no witnesses, the investigation seems to go nowhere fast. Except, Kate can’t help but feel like there’s pieces missing. And those pieces may be living in the house with her.
I’ll admit I don’t read a lot in the mystery genre. But the tagline, “Old Hollywood. Fresh blood.” caught my eye and refused to let go. And the cover is the kind of classic glamour I can’t resist. And this was a pleasant break from the normal violent mayhem I usually indulge in.
Kate herself is an interesting character. She’s no stranger to fame, though hers is more of the infamous variety. It’s a mystery in and of itself, unveiled in layers, weaving details of the trauma only as we get to know Kate. But she keeps her secrets closely guarded, building her own tension and skewing her misperceptions as we move towards the end. She’s feisty, but her experience has left her with a fair amount of doubt. And in the backdrop of Hollywood, where nothing is what it seems, these details of her character flow seamlessly into the story, adding to the experience.
This slow unraveling gives the book a slower pace, allowing us to get to know the characters. I really liked this pacing because it felt very real to life. The way we see what we want in people and situations. How easy it is to get lost in both good and bad experiences. How people surprise us as we get to know them.
There’s an earnest nature in Kate’s determination. She wants to move forward, and even though she grapples with deep fears of her own, she isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. I love that complexity and think it’s fantastic messaging for teens. It’s okay to be fierce and vibrant and still be frightened of your own inner demons. What matters is how you move forward, how you try to make it back to the light.
Even though this is a murder mystery, Chasing Starlight is a sweet read. Through Kate we learn to see through superficiality in both situations and in people. We explore how far someone can go to pursue their dreams, and perhaps, when how far becomes too far. The way wealth and privilege can blind us and the importance of authenticity.
In all, I think there’s a lot for teens to relate to in Kate and the rest of the characters. I really enjoyed how the elements of the murder highlighted the way assumptions can domineer our lives. From the way people look at us, the way we look at people, and how situation and circumstance can cloud both. The characters all have their own insecurities to fight, their own inner demons to battle, and I think that offers a complex cast that mimics our own realities.
Chasing Starlight is perfect for anyone who enjoys lighter reads with a mystery twist. Even though it’s set in the 1930’s, the book is still relatable to many issues and experiences teens go through today. There are darker issues of murder, blackmail, light drug use, and sexism, but they’re handled well and aren’t graphic or overly detailed in nature. In all, a very fun read. Three stabby stars.
Thank you TBR And Beyond Book Tours and Tor Teen for sending this charming read my way!
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour HERE for mood boards, playlists, listicles, and more!
Movies, mansions, and murder in the Golden Age of Hollywood! Teri Bailey Black’s Chasing Starlight is a historical mystery from the award-winning author of the Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel.
1938. The Golden Age of Hollywood. Palm trees and movie stars. Film studios pumping out musicals, westerns, and gangster films at a furious pace. Everyone wants to be a star―except society girl and aspiring astronomer Kate Hildebrand, who’d rather study them in the night sky. She’s already famous after a childhood tragedy turned her into a newspaper headline. What she craves is stability.
But when Kate has to move to Hollywood to live with her washed-up silent film star grandfather, she walks into a murder scene and finds herself on the front page again. She suspects one of the young men boarding in her grandfather’s run-down mansion is the killer―maybe even her grandfather. She searches for clues.
Now, Kate must discover the killer while working on the set of a musical―and falling in love. Will her stars align so she can catch the murderer and live the dream in Old Hollywood? Or will she find that she’s just chasing starlight?
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Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.
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