editor's choice



When I first heard the premise for Louise Beech’s Call Me Star Girl, Clint Eastwood’s iconic film Play Misty for Me (1971) came to mind – late night DJ with potentially crazed stalker fan, murder, bloody murder, secrets and lies … Certainly, there’s something extremely filmic about the book and, like Eastwood, from the very start, Beech has us in the palms of her hands, waiting, with bated breath, to see where she’ll lead us next, but that’s really where the comparison between book and film ends.

There’s much to like about it, although it’s an unsettling ride; multi-faceted like the stars that are referenced throughout. It opens with the murder of a pregnant woman, an event that broadcaster Stella McKeever becomes obsessed with, not least because of the mystery person who calls her radio show, claiming to know who the murderer is. Against this lies a historic murder, filmed by Harland Grey who killed a girl in a movie. The real story though is the relationship between Stella and Elizabeth, the mother who abandoned her when she was 12 and who’s come back into her life, without any real explanation, 14 years later. The events of the past and the now are revealed largely through these two women’s eyes, with Stella’s boyfriend Tom’s intense observations and leftfield games also informing the plot.

This is very good writing, a statement that surely won’t come as a surprise as Beech is an acclaimed novelist with a career on the rise. The joy of her writing though is in the casual detail, a seemingly throwaway comment that makes one stutter, then stop, think, and then think again. An ability to make a quite a complex story, with so many different threads, work effortlessly also makes Beech a stellar novelist, and her book standout in an arena of already standout fiction.

Call Me Star Girl is mesmerising. It’s like those late movie nights when I’d doze off, only to wake to some terrifyingly horrible scene, the one where the voice in your head’s screaming ‘look away, look away‘, but you just can’t – and that thrill, which you can’t explain to anyone who doesn’t get it, that keeps you watching and watching until the bitter end. And keeps you coming back.


Call Me Star Girl | Louise Beech | Orenda Books | 18 April 2019 | paperback original | £8.99

Please use independent bookshops and libraries

Music: ‘Vincent’, Don McLean



“‘… You’re my star girl now’

‘Am I?’

She had never given me an affectionate name when I was a child. Never called me sweetheart or angel. I wanted to cling to this new name, to bask in her attention. …

‘Sounds like one of those novels that has “girl” or “wife” or “sister” in the title,’ I said. ‘We just need a killer twist and a cliffhanger ending, and we would have a bestseller called Star Girl.’”

– Stella and her mother, Elizabeth, Call Me Star Girl






Acknowledgements: Quoted book text © Louise Beech 2018. This review is published as part of the virtual book tour arranged by lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours. And many thanks also to the publisher for sending us a book proof. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

Also of interest: ‘Blood Orange’; ‘The Lost Man – the road to nowhere; Falling from the Floating World’; Beton Rouge’; ‘Gallowstree Lane‘; The Lost Man‘; ‘Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdad’s Sing’; ‘The Story Keeper, Anna Mazzola’s Gothic novel‘; ‘Midland‘; ‘‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.