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Stardust: A Novel

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  700 ratings  ·  137 reviews

Hollywood, 1945. Ben Collier has just arrived from wartorn Europe to find that his brother, Daniel, has died i
ebook, 512 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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James Thane
Beginning with Los Alamos, Jospeh Kanon has written a number of very entertaining books set in a recent historical context. Stardust: A Novel is set in Hollywood in the months immediately following World War II, and Kanon creates a vivid portrayal of the time and place that sounds very much like the truth.

Ben Collier, still in the Army, arrives home from Europe to discover that his brother, Danny, a successful movie director, is near death after an apparent suicide attempt. Racing to Daniel's be
Madeline Ashby
Sep 15, 2011 Madeline Ashby rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime readers, noir readers, movie fans, historical fiction readers,
My mother (who very much needs a Goodreads account) referred this to us. It's compulsively readable, sexy, and intelligent. I carried it with me everywhere until I finished it.

As a mystery novel, Stardust is almost perfect. It does everything that a good Elizabeth George or James Ellroy novel does, but in shorter time and with more grace. It revolves around the protagonist's search for his brother's killer, and his simultaneous attempts to find financing for a documentary on the Holocaust and t
Feb 18, 2015 Ed rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Post WW II Hollywood
I'm conflicted about this book. The topic, post WW II witch hunting for communists in the movie industry, is something I am interested in. The characters are interesting and believable. The plot, though, is often confusing.

Ben Collier returns from Europe to hear that his very successful and heroic brother, Daniel, has committed suicide. The rest of the story involves Ben trying to find out the truth, while producing a documentary about the Death Camps. As a result he becomes an insider in the m
Stardust was a pick for my mystery book club. I had never read Kanon before so I was unfamiliar with his previous books. The book started off well capturing my interest. I liked the introduction of Ben and his meetings of Sol, Paulette, Fay, and Liesl. It was also interesting seeing Ben's brief reunion with Danny and meeting Liesl's family. Then the book lost me for a bit and I struggled to keep at it. I did keep at it, and overall the story was good. I wasn't able to figure out what really happ ...more
I'm torn on this. The atmosphere is incredible - noirish story of Ben, leaving the army in 1946 and heading to Hollywood because his director brother has apparently killed himself. Ben doesn't believe it and starts investigating. You've got elements of Hollywood, Communism, love, betrayal, murder, and more. It got pretty convoluted and complicated and I'm not sure that's a good thing. I loved the look at golden age Hollywood and all the back scene back stabbing and manipulations, but it just wen ...more
When you want Hollywood in its golden age - Bogart, trench coats, Bergman, long dresses with sparkling jewels, LA sunsets, studio lots - read this book. I've admired Kanon since he wrote his Edgar-awarding winning Los Alamos. He does atmosphere better than anyone. He starts with an elegant, trans-continental train journey at the close of WWII with a movie studio head and an American GI pitching the government's idea for a movie documentary about the concentration camps. The GI is the son of a fa ...more
Immediately post WW II, Ben Collier is on leave from the army and learns of the death of his brother, a film industry executive, in a fall from a hotel balcony in LA. Ben's journey to LA and his relentless search for the facts of his brother's death drive the plot. Along the way, the author explores the film industry of the time, the witch hunt for Communists in the industry, and the plight of German refugees adrift in post-war America. Ben encounters movie executives and stars, reporters, bad ...more
I feel like big chunks of this book are ... missing? I found myself lost -- and not in a good way a lot of the time. I know the time period, I love noir, etc. This was not a homage, it was just poorly done. Impossible to keep track of the (fictional) characters (the real-life ones stood out because they were, in reality, strong, vibrant personalities, unlike any o of this book's fabricated characters), especially with the "suprise" culprit. Was expecting better; pretty disappointing.

Also, I have
First-class period fiction the way it should be written. Kanon’s story of Hollywood during the period immediately following World War II captures the glamour of the studio system and personalities of the heyday of the 1930’s but foreshadows the eminent achromatization of a changing world. Ben Collier, still in uniform, returns from Europe to find his brother on his death bed and becomes involved in the mystery of his death. Was it attempted suicide, an accident or murder? Was his beautiful but s ...more
Thoroughly enjoyable mystery set in post-World War II Hollywood. You get some noir, some love story, some Hollywood glitter, as well as the good-for-your-brain "history" of the German emigre experience and the horrors of the early HUAC (or at least a fictional version of the HUAC). I occasionally felt like Ben (our gumshoe hero) gets his clues handed to him a little too easily, but there are still plenty of twists and turns. And a slimy senator gets his comeuppance from a studio head—which does ...more
Heather Rothman
Overall I enjoyed this book; it had an interesting narrative, included real events, and made them interesting. The author's clearly done his research on this time period.

I had some trouble with the writing style. There were so many misplaced modifiers, that I had trouble following who was saying what and had to re-read passages to figure things out.

Also, it was a bit long with no real purpose for being so.

It's worth reading, but I thought the ending could have been more clearly explained and mor
I went back and forth with this book from, "I think I like this, it's very well written and interesting," to "what the heck!? though written in English, I can not understand a word Joseph Kanon has written!"

When Kanon is good, he's very good and the book seems like it might become a great murder mystery with the Hollywood scene of the 1940's.

Ben's brother, Danny, has apparently tried to commit suicide by falling out of his hotel room or perhaps in a drunken stupor he throws his legs over the rai
Charlie Boswell
Sep 16, 2009 Charlie Boswell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of well-written mysteries, especially those with an historical setting
Kanon has moved a bit from his usual WWII milieu to the years immediately after when some in government worried about Communists under every bed. This is a first rate mystery with major insights into the movie industry of the period (many historical characters), lingering hostilities due to the war, family secrets, and a host of really interesting folk. Kanon continues to write really good dialogue and create a believable historical background. Highly recommended.
Todd Stockslager
Kind of a follow up to his earlier The Good German: A Novel, Kanon here carries the post World War II story home from Germany to Hollywood, where main character Ben has been assigned to edit an Army documentary on the concentration camps before he is mustered out into civilian life. But shortly before his return, his brother is badly injured in a fall from an apartment house balcony and lies in a coma. While Ben and his brother Danny have been mostly estranged since their parents divorce and hav ...more
Amazing historical detail and richly imagined characters. The plot is tightly woven and suspenseful, however I always felt as if I was seeing Ben (the protagonist) through a large, dark bubble. I could never quite get a read on who he was, except through other people's eyes.

My other issue was this book was the staccato dialogue. Did everyone in the 40's speak in obtuse, incomplete sentences? Liesl, especially, always speaks as if she's making shorthand notes:

"You think I'm extravagant. Really,
If TCM ever makes its own non-documentary film, here's the prototype: a vivid, juicy,atmospheric murder mystery, set in post WWII Hollywood, just as the Red Scare began to raise its ugly head and make Hollywood prove its patriotism.Kanon is strong at setting and characterization;his staccato,"just the facts,maam" dialogue is noir enough for the times and almost reads like a screenplay in waiting. He has fun with mixing real-life stars and studio-chieftains with his own fictional ones(my favorite ...more
"Stardust" by Joseph Kanon is the kind of book I usually love. The noir story--set in 1940's Hollywood, no less--is the type of novel I seek out whenever possible.

The main story is about Ben Collier, going to Hollywood straight from post-war Europe to make a Holocaust documentary for the Army. What complicates matters is his brother's attempted suicide. The brother is a marginally famous movie director and leaves behind a stunning German wife whom he rescued (along with several others) from the
Theresa Hencsie
This story starts off in 1945 with a young man, Ben Collier who just got off his service in the US army. Only to find his brother, Daniel, has fallen suspiciously from his rented apartment window. No one knew why Daniel committed suicide, but Ben was determined to find out. He ruled out all the possible explanation such as being drunk, clumsiness, and above all suicide. To find out the truth about Daniel’s death, Ben decides to start a career in Hollywood and the movie business. Being the time ...more
After having written one of the best books about post-war Berlin, Kanon has now written one of the best books about Hollywood in the forties. As with his previous novels, the author has chosen the form of the thriller to take us on an inside journey into a mysterious world. But he's done so with great skills: his story is the equivalent of an old film noir, wonderfully atmospheric, filled with ambiguous characters, full of shadows, brought to life by sharp and clever dialogues. But Stardust is o ...more
Kara Jorges
It’s the 1940s and World War II has just ended. Young Ben Cohen is on his way to Hollywood after visiting the German death camps to make a movie about the experience. Once he boards the train, he learns that his estranged brother Daniel, a Hollywood producer, has taken a fall and is not expected to live. On the train, Ben is immediately brushed with stardust, meeting his brother’s associates. He makes a powerful ally when he assists an ailing studio head, and is immediately given red carpet trea ...more
I wish I could give three and a half stars! This is a story about Hollywood in the post war period, a time and place have loved forever. However it focuses on the communist witch hunts of the time which I didn't know nearly as much about, but was nonetheless interested in. Firstly I think that his evocation of Hollywood was accurate and meticulously well researched. He got the atmosphere of the place spot on. Secondly, I think his characterization is brilliant. His people are real, and walk off ...more
Timothy Hallinan
STARDUST is the first novel about early Hollywood I've read after a long stretch of reading nonfiction -- or as nonfiction as anything written about Hollywood ever is. I'd been concentrating on the first-generation and first-and-a-half-generation moguls -- Goldwyn, Mayer, Zuker, Laemmle, Cohn, Thalberg, etc., and Joseph Kanon's portrait of Sol Lasner, the founder of a smaller Gower Gulch studio was fascinating, if a little starry-eyed. Most of the the real moguls were less courageous outside the ...more
There are a lot of good things about this book. The overall plot is good, if not very original. Just after World War II Ben Collier, a man working for the Army making movies, goes to Hollywood because his brother, also working in the movies, has apparently tried to kill himself by jumping off a balcony. Ben doesn't buy it. There's something sinister going on, and in true noire fashion he decides to find out. There's all kinds of shady characters: the studio head and his number two, the femme fat ...more
This book was a fantastic read, painting a vivid picture of post WWII Hollywood that really makes you feel like you've stepped into a time machine. For someone like myself, who is obsessed with an era of Hollywood that has long past, this book was a treat. It felt like an inside look into the world of dreams. Kanon artfully weaves real characters in with his original creations, giving the story a very true to life feeling.

The plot itself is a thriller/mystery, which is well done and will keep yo
Kanon, Joseph. STARDUST. (2009). ***. Kanon is a fine writer, and I have enjoyed several of his earlier novels, including “Los Alamos,” and “The Prodigal Spy.” This one, however, was slow reading for me. It didn’t manage to grab my interest right away, and the further I read on, the harder it became. It’s the story of Ben Collier in Hollywood of 1945. Ben has just returned from war-torn Europe to learn that his brother, Daniel, has died from a mysterious fall from a hotel window. All the options ...more
Nancy Oakes
The star system is just so inaccurate for ratings, really. I liked the basic story of this book (and to me that's a 3), but I had some problems with it (so going to below 3 but not quite a 2).

The entire time I was reading this I felt as if I was watching a black and white film noir. Ben Collier arrives in Hollywood to work on a film for the US Army and to try to piece together what happened to his brother Danny, who supposedly jumped off of the balcony at his rented apartment. Everyone thinks i
Kathleen Hagen
Stardust, by Joseph Canon, A-minus, narrated by T. Ryder Smith, produced by Simon and Schuster, downloaded from

Publisher’s note:
Hollywood, 1945. Ben Collier has just arrived from war-torn Europe to find his brother has died in mysterious circumstances. Why would a man with a beautiful
wife, a successful movie career, and a heroic past choose to kill himself? Ben enters the uneasy world beneath the glossy shine of the movie business,
where politics and the dream factories collide and C
Ismail Elshareef
I am extremely underwhelmed with Joseph Kanon's writing style. The story events don't flow well, mostly due to the poor structure of the paragraphs, and the chapters are too long for no apparent reason. Couple poorly structured paragraphs with long chapters and you have recipe for a wearisome read, and this sure was one.

The sad part, though, is that the story itself is really good, hence the three stars. Once I learned to look past the poor writing and lacking structure, which wasn't an easy fe
Lisa H.
Lots of initial promise, a very interesting storyline, but ultimately a little disappointing. I find Kanon fascinating if only because he had a full career as a book publishing executive, then turned to writing when he was in his 50s (I'm guessing, based on the pic on the back cover.) His other work includes the very well-received The Good German, and the era of the mid-'40s to early '50s seems to be the focus of much of his work.

Premise is this: Ben Collier, a soldier in the US Army assigned to
It’s post-World War II, and Ben Collier, on leave from the U.S. Army Signal Corp in Germany, has come to Los Angeles. His brother Danny, a director there, has fallen from a balcony and is now in a coma and near death. Danny dies soon after Ben's arrival, almost immediately after Danny awakens to beg Ben not to leave him.

Ben discovers that this was not an accident and not attempted suicide. Danny was somehow involved in the beginnings of the “witch hunt” for Communists in Hollywood, and someone w
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