(Reviewed by Guy Savage DEC 30, 2007)
"I left Gloria in the car while I did a brief reconnaissance of the venue. I had this vague notion of trying to spot any suspicious characters. I had more chance of hitting the Sahara on a wet Wednesday. Inside the pub, it was mayhem on a leash…. I began to wonder if we could have slipped through a black hole and ended up in the Andromeda galaxy."
Star Struck, the sixth mystery in the Kate Brannigan series by V.L. McDermid, finds Kate hired as a bodyguard to Gloria Kendal, the idiosyncratic star of The Northerners, a popular British soap opera. This is hardly a dream assignment for Kate. Brannigan and Co., Kate’s private investigation firm, handles a variety of cases, but the demands of protecting Gloria from the paparazzi, her fans and her fellow thespians test Kate and her coworkers to the limit.
Gloria Kendal has received a number of death threats, and she hasn’t taken them too seriously, but then when her tires are slashed under the noses of the television station’s tight security, she decides to employ Kate. Gloria’s enigmatic fortune teller, the “Seer to the Stars” Dorothea Dawson also predicts murder, and this causes the sensible, practical Gloria to hire Kate for around the clock protection. Kate’s job isn’t easy. Gloria is the consummate star, with an endless round of public engagements in crowded clubs and pubs.
Star Struck is an engaging mystery with no gore and all the violence takes place off stage. The strengths of the novel are found in the well-drawn characterizations. While Kate’s personal life with her freelance, rock journalist lover goes on the back burner for most of the plot, her professional relationships—both inside and outside Brannigan and Co. are scrutinized. Kate lives in a quid-pro-quo world; favors are granted and favors are called in as Kate investigates just who is behind the death threats. Kate, who doesn’t appear to have a domestic bone in her body, is a delightful sleuth protagonist. Easy-going, unflappable but also relentless in a deceptively unassuming way, Kate negotiates her way carefully through the petty jealousies of Gloria’s fellow actors in the cast of the Northerners. In this novel, author McDermid employs a low-key humor that makes this a light, but enjoyable mystery.
- Amazon readers rating: from 3 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Writing on the Wall and Other Stories (1997)
- A Place of Execution (1999) /
- Killing the Shadows (2000)
- Distant Echo (2003)
- Stranded: Stories (2005)
- The Grave Tattoo (2006)
- A Darker Domain (2009)
- Trick of the Dark (2010; August 2011 in US)
Lindsay Gordon Mysteries
- Report for Murder (1987)
- Common Murder (1989)
- Final Edition (1991) (called Open and Shut in US)
- Union Jack (1993) (called Conferences are Murder in US)
- Booked For Murder (1996)
- Hostage to Murder (2003)
- Deadline for Murder (2005)
Kate Brannigan Mysteries
- Dead Beat (1992)
- Kick Back (1993)
- Crack Down (1994)
- Clean Break (1995)
- Blue Genes (1996)
- Star Struck (1998)
Dr. Tony Hill & Carol Jordan Mysteries
- Mermaids Singing (1995)
- The Wire in the Blood (1997)
- Last Temptation (2002)
- The Torment of Others (2004)
- Beneath the Bleeding (2007)
- Fever of the Bone (September 2010)
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- Official website for Val McDermid
- Wikipedia page on Val McDermid
- The Guardian interview with Val McDermid
- Guardian Unlimited: Why I Write: Interview with Val McDermid
- Shots Magazine interview with Val McDermid
- Tangled Web on Kate Brannigan series
- New York Times review of The Grave Tattoo
- Pop Matters review of The Grave Tattoo
- MostlyFiction.com review of A Hostage to Murder
- MostlyFiction.com review of A Darker Domain
- MostlyFiction.com review of Beneath the Bleeding
- MostlyFiction.com review of Fever of the Bone
- MostlyFiction.com review of Trick of the Dark
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About the Author:
Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community and read English at St. Hilda's College in Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years and is now a full-time writer, though she did not publish her first novel until 1987.
In 1995 she won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Her novel A Place of Execution won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won the Anthony, Macavity, and Dilys awards for best novel, and was a finalist for the Edgar Award.
She divides her time between South Manchester and Northumberland.