36. Stardust by Robert B. Parker (1990)
Tough-talking private investigator Spenser, and his loyal sidekick Hawk are back in action again, and this just may prove to be their toughest case yet. When the Hollywood-based television series ‘Fifty Minutes’ begins shooting locally, Spenser’s love Susan – a psychologist who is acting as consultant to the television film crew – persuades Spenser and Hawk to guard the star of the show, Jill Joyce. Spenser can immediately smell the trouble brewing.
Spenser really doesn’t know what to believe. Jill’s abject fear that someone wants her dead may just be a sign that she is out of her mind – a woman who desperately needs to spend some quality time in drug rehab; or she could be one thousand percent right, and someone is actually out to get her. Even though privately, Spenser can hardly blame the potential assassin for their feelings – he and Susan recognize the woman’s very real fear hidden behind the celebrity’s mask.
In Spenser’s opinion, Ms. Joyce’s reckless off-camera behavior epitomizes the term ‘Drama Queen’. Her antics seem to be at the very height of extravagant depravity; yet as the detective investigates the threatening letters and phone calls received by the troubled starlet, he becomes increasingly convinced that she has some very valid reasons to fear for her life. Someone is definitely not a fan of Jill Joyce; and Spenser is soon drawn into a deadly and nightmarish mystery that gives new meaning to the term ‘stage fright’.
Actually, I know that I have read this book before; I just can’t remember exactly when that might have been. The story seemed vaguely familiar to me, although I couldn’t have told anyone anything about the mystery. Robert B. Parker was really quite the author; and I’ve always enjoyed his work. I love his easy writing style and gritty characterizations.
I find his plots very intriguing yet still highly readable – and not so convoluted that I can’t follow the mystery or understand the solution. There is also a fine thread of dark comedy running through each mystery that seems entirely appropriate to the situation and to each character’s personality, as well. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to reading more from this series. I would give Stardust by Robert B. Parker an A!
A! – (90-95%)