Title: John Belushi is Dead
Author: Kathy Charles
My synopsis/thoughts: Hilda and Benji had become friends under creepy circumstances. One morning before school, they had witnessed a cat getting hit by a car; and after flopping around for awhile - finally dying. A teacher scooped it up into a trash bag and threw it in the trash bin. Benji stood there and cried, something Hilda would not let herself do, but she did try to comfort him. Hilda approached him a couple of days later so they could rescue this dead cat and return him to his owner. This simple act bonded them together.
A couple of years later they are still friends and planning a summer filled with visits to all the spots in L.A. where someone died - either by suicide or murder. I am not sure where Benji's fascination with this grisly hobby came from, but Hilda's parents were decapitated in a car accident in which she survived. She feels as if she cheated death and so feels it is always around her. She lives with her Aunt Lynnette. The fact that Jayne Mansfield died the same way makes her feel a little better about death - that it even happens to the rich and famous (and in the same way).
One of their excursions takes them to the apartment of Hank - a cranky old man who likes to watch old movies and drink beer. It was rumored that a silent screen star had killed himself in the bathroom (of Hank's apartment) when the industry switched over to talking films. They asked Hank if they could come in to take pictures. He grudgingly agreed (a little cash did exchange hands).
Benji wanted to go immediately, but Hilda sensed that the old man was lonely and wanted to stay. With Benji being her ride though, she had to leave. A couple of days later, Hank tracks her down via a business card that Benji had left with him. He invited Hilda over and told her he had something he thought she would be interested in. This was the beginning of a friendship that was bigger than age. After Hank has an accident and ends up in the hospital, Hilda meets Hank's downstairs neighbor Jake. A young screenwriter who at first, seems to rub Hilda the wrong way. As Hank and Hilda's friendship grows, and Jake and Hilda's friendship starts, Hilda and Benji seem to be falling apart.
Hilda feels that Benji is really starting to get strange and she is a little fearful of him. He doesn't seem content to just visit the sights of deceased stars anymore, but feels he needs to push it just a little further.
Even though this book was not a big action book, I did enjoy it. You see how Hilda finally comes into her own person and you get a glimpse of the healing that is finally starting to happen after the death of her parents. This book talked about a lot of different stars that were killed and it has made me really curious as to read some of their stories. I think I am going to go looking for some of the books mentioned in John Belushi is Dead - like Hollywood Babylon. I didn't know who was more needy in the Hilda/Benji relationship in the beginning - but it was interesting to see how these two characters evolved as they each made other friends. This book gave me a different look at L.A. - underneath the glittery lights to the underbelly. I would probably be someone who would try to search out the sights were people died if I lived there.
~I received a copy of this book from Pocket Books in exchange for my review. ~
John Belushi is Dead
Publisher/Publication Date: MTV, Aug 24, 2010