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Book Review: Fallen Star by Allison Morse

This book was reviewed for San Francisco and Netgalley

Fallen Star, by Allison Morse, is a brilliantly wrought cold case murder mystery; a gripping thrill-ride from start to finish. It was one of the rare books I just didn’t want to put down. I had to finish! We follow Kate Bloom, sharing in her chilling childhood encounter during the prologue. This unfortunate event would shape Kate in many ways, from closing off her ability to trust others, especially men, to a fierce drive to promote females rights and fight against female objectification.

Flash-forward and we find Kate and her great-aunt looking at things in her recently deceased mother’s garage, where they stumble across a crate that proves to contain old film footage once believed lost forever. This footage contains scenes from her grandmother, Gloria Reardon’s, last movie, during the filming of which she was found murdered in her dressing room. No one was ever convicted of the crime, and the case had long gone cold. Til now.

Kate and her aunt engage the cooperation and assistance of Jarvis Benjamin, an important mover-and-shaker in the film industry, who knew Gloria Reardon, to aid in the restoration of the degraded film. Kate and her aunt hope restoring the film will shed light on Gloria’s death. Helping them is Dylan Nichols, a young up-and-coming director with a knack for film restoration. Shop is set up on Benjamin’s property, and Kate and her aunt move in, unwilling to be far from the precious film fragments.

As the project progresses, and Kate’s obsession grows, she begins having visions of her grandmother, on the day of her death. They are snippets of the last hours of Gloria Reardon’s life, providing detail Kate would be unable to know without having been there. Between the visions and questions raised during the restoration, Kate begins a new investigation into her grandmother’s murder. What she finds is a web of intrigue and deceit, hidden for decades.

In Fallen Star, Morse has woven a Gothic masterpiece that reflects the charm of the old films it discusses. There is mystery and intrigue with just a dash of the paranormal. The writing flows, drawing the reader into the story. It’s easy to feel for Kate, what she went through, and is going through, and to feel with her as the visions overtake her.

????? Highly recommended if you enjoy murder mysteries, paranormal drama, psychological suspense, the Agent Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, or Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories.

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