Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Review: 'Fallen Star' by Allison Morse

California author Allison Morse hails from a fascinating background. She grew up in Los Angles, a member of a family of actors and she pursued the family's passion until moving to Berkeley to earn her bachelor's degree, following that with a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Phillips Graduate Institute and then on to Hastings College of the Law for her JD. Always loving writing she has added writing to her busy career as a lawyer, enhancing her abilities in the literary arena with classes at UCLA Extension. She writes Young Adult fiction under the moniker Alise McLennan and under her name Allison Morse she writes Romance novels with unique characters, seamless plots and always the unexpected. She is a member of Sisters and Crime, SCBWI and RWA. Her initial novel was THE SWEETHEART DEAL, following which she wrote this mystery set in Hollywood entitled `FALLEN STAR’.

Allison has completely captured the 1960s and 1970s of Hollywood atmosphere (even the cover art reflects that) and her manner of speech is as apropos as is the mirror of the relationship between the sexes. She opens her mystery thriller with a telling Prologue set in 1964 - ‘In a gold sequined gown and holding a lit cigarette, Gloria Reardon loomed out of the huge movie poster. The picture was old, but with its splashes of yellow and red, it popped like neon against the nicotine-stained wall of the dingy office. And Gloria, breathtaking Gloria, eclipsed the puny room, smiling as if she knew it couldn’t possibly contain her dazzling self. “You look like her,” the photographer said, as he glanced up from his 35 mm camera set on a black tripod. “I do?” Kate tried not to let her words run faster than her thoughts— a major impossibility. “I mean, I’ve been told I do. I have the same red hair and green eyes, but…” She sighed and looked down at her navy and white jumper and the knee socks her mom insisted she still wear to school. Was it really possible that one day, her thirteen-year-old body could be as beautiful as her infamous grandmother’s?... Not that Kate had ever been lucky enough to meet Gloria. Her movie star grandmother had died eons ago. But Kate had thumbed through family albums filled with pictures of her and had seen her movies on TV late at night. With these artifacts, she had studied the sly sparkle in the actress’s eyes and had practiced the careless bravado as Gloria tilted her head just so, and rolled her shoulders with feline ease. And, now, as Kate conjured up these images, she realized that she was doing it, too. She was being Gloria. Click, click, click.’ Masterful introduction of the nidus that is this novel.

To make the story condensed Allison provides a synopsis – ‘Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations. Avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker, Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process becomes the killer’s new target.’

Smoothly elegant prose, fully three-dimensional characters, the flavor of the Hollywood, Allison Morse’s second novel is another deliciously fine novel from a very polished writer. See Allison fly! Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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