Catch a Falling Star may be the first book I've run across that is not available at any California library and not mentioned in either Slide's The Hollywood Novel or Baird and Greenwood's Annotated Bibliography of California Fiction. It's a case where a paperback original has slipped through the cracks of literary scholarship. The author, incidentally, is sometimes listed as P. J. Reed-Marr, but whether that makes him/her a him or a her I do not know.
Catch a Falling Star by Reed Marr. Fawcett Gold Medal (1956), 158 pp.
Former child star Mady Lord escapes from the sanitarium to which she had been sent after a suicide attempt. Her career seems over, now that studio head Lewis Pelton, for many years her mentor, has abandoned her. But talent agent Benny Morris learns that a lesser studio is still interested in Mady. He instructs Hank Dawson, number two man at the agency, to find the actress and sign her to a contract. As Hank begins his quest, he learns that another film star, the slutty current wife of Mady's ex-husband, has died under suspicious circumstances. It may be murder, and Mady may be the killer.
At the center of this story is not the death of the slutty star or the efforts of Hank to find Mady. It is instead the creepy relationship between the fatherless Mady and the overbearing Pelton. Through flashbacks the author shows how Pelton has taken complete charge of Mady's life as well as her career and why Mady has little sense of self-worth despite her success in movies. Hank's greatest problem is convincing Mady that Pelton's manipulations are the chief cause of her troubles. As the author must surely expect, readers will find similarities between the fictional characters and the real-life duo of Judy Garland and Louis B. Mayer. Despite all this, much of the plot is conventional and without surprises. The writing, however, is crisp; the story never lags; and the narrative moves smoothly between Hank's viewpoint and Mady's. Fans of Hollywood novels will probably enjoy this book.