From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. James Ellroy fans will find a lot to like in this gritty look at post-WWII Hollywood from Edgar-winner Kanon (Los Alamos
). Ben Collier, recently returned to the U.S. from service in the Signal Corps in Europe, travels to California after his sister-in-law, Liesl, informs him that his director brother, Danny, has suffered a serious fall from a hotel window. Was it an accident or a suicide attempt? Ben arrives in time to witness his brother briefly emerge from a coma, but soon afterward Danny dies. While Liesl believes the suicide theory, Ben suspects someone pushed Danny out the window and turns amateur detective to identify the culprit.Â In a noirish twist, the widowed Liesl comes on to Ben. The stakes rise after Ben learns Danny was playing a part in an anticommunist crusade a congressman is launching against the film industry. Kanon perfectly balances action and introspection, while smoothly integrating such real-life figures as actress Paulette Goddard into the plot. (Sept.)
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could very easily have fallen victim to the cliches that plague lesser noir fiction (picture busty dames, gruff detectives, and smoky bars). Fortunately, critics thoroughly enjoyed Kanon's expert recreation of midcentury Los Angeles and were particularly entertained by the cameo appearances made by Hollywood notables. Although the Washington Post
noted a "lack of dimension" surrounding protagonist Ben Collier, other critics praised the complexity of Kanon's secondary characters. Overall, reviewers hailed Stardust
as a terrific read as well as an intelligent and engaging historical mystery.