The Starlet by Mary McNamara
In Mary McNamara’s debut novel, Oscar Season, readers were introduced to Juliette Greyson. Juliette was the head of PR at the Pinnacle Hotel in Los Angeles, dealing with the rich and famous on a daily basis. After the murder of her cheating ex-husband, Juliette flees to Florence for a break from the LA lifestyle, and that is were The Starlet picks up.
Juliette saves troubled actress Mercy Talbot (think Lindsay Lohan) from diving into a fountain and whisks her away to her Italian estate she shares with cousin Gabriel. Upon arrival to Cerreta, Gabriel is outraged Juliette would bring a drug riddled celebrity on the premises. Gabriel and Juliette are both recovering addicts, and Gabriel does not have the patience to deal with Mercy and her Hollywood ways. The story begins to change when Juliette realizes that someone else may be supplying Mercy with the drugs, that someone being Mercy’s own overbearing mother. After the mysterious death of Mercy’s former co-star, the plot intensifies when another death on set occurs. Juliette is determined to find the culprit, and help save Mercy from succumbing to death from addiction at such a young age.
Even though I had not read Oscar Season previously, The Starlet easily stood its ground alone. The tantalizing pull of celebrities and their over-the-top lifestyles mixed in with drugs, sex, and murder makes this mystery irresistible to put down. I loved Italy as the setting, the beautiful images along with the serene atmosphere of Cerreta made the whole drug/murder scandal that much more scandalous. The love stories that were threaded throughout seemed to get a little confusing, but I guess that is life of the rich and famous. I definitely recommend The Starlet and look forward to reading more novels from Mary McNamara.