Friday 24 May 2019

Past and present collide on air

Fiction: Call Me Star Girl

Louise Beech

Orenda Books, €12.59

Call Me Star Girl
Call Me Star Girl

Margaret Madden

Stella McKeever is on the night shift at WLCR and tonight is her final show. Breaking from her usual routine, she calls for listeners to reveal their secrets, and, in return, she will reveal secrets of her own.

The phone lines are quiet, but Stella is not worried: "No one has responded to my open invitation yet, but I know one person will. Because he has called every Friday for the last three weeks, and one random Tuesday. To tell me he knows who killed Victoria Valbon. That's her name."

There is tension in the community since the body of a young pregnant girl was discovered in an alley and women are afraid to walk alone, at night. Stella believes she is being watched: "I'm sure I've sensed someone following me home a few times. When I turn there's no one there. I sometimes think I hear a voice… Then I refuse to walk faster, to let anyone scare me, even though my feet are itching to run."

'Split into Now and Then', we learn of Stella's troubled past and how she was abandoned by her mother as a young child: "When I was 12, she left me with the woman next door. The only thing I had to remember her by was an antique, cut-glass perfume bottle with a star-shaped stopper."

Stella's mother has reappeared and is making tentative steps to make amends. Their relationship is fraught, and Stella seeks solace in the arms of her boyfriend - a man who likes to play dangerous games.

Call Me Star Girl is a unique psychological thriller which is packed with tension and suspense. The empty radio studio makes for a creepy setting and the recent murder adds a layer of mystery to the tale. A dark and atmospheric read which sends shivers down your spine.

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