The victim of a childhood kidnapping that made international headlines, Kate Hildebrand was already famous when she came to stay with her grandfather, a former silent film star, in his Hollywood mansion. An aspiring astronomer, Kate expects a warm welcome from her grandfather, but instead she walks in on a crime scene. As Kate acclimates to her new life in 1938 Hollywood, a challenging job and a burgeoning romance, there’s also a killer to track down. A girl could get blisters doing all that in heels!
Chasing Starlight is full of golden-age Hollywood glamour but spotlights the sweat and sacrifice that make it all happen. Teri Bailey Black juggles multiple storylines with the same efficiency Kate uses to land a gig as a production assistant. The misfits who rent rooms from Kate’s grandfather are distinct and mostly lovable. Black organically incorporates mentions of the Hays Code, which required strict moral standards in movies during this era, while exploring women’s roles in film and the industry’s history of persecution and blacklisting of communists. It all plays out as if on a movie set, giving things a delightfully meta kick.
The book’s disparate strands entwine in a conclusion straight out of film noir, complete with speeding roadsters, a complicated switcheroo, a race to find the killer and an overdue reckoning with old family trauma. When you spend your days creating things that aren’t real, it’s doubly important to find the solid ground of truth beneath your feet.
Chasing Starlight reminds us that there are truths overhead in the night sky, too, and it lets both kinds shine. It’s a fast-paced crime story that nods knowingly at cinematic tropes even as it employs them, and it tugs at the heartstrings just the same.