IN THE END WE ALL FADE TO BLACK.
Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.
Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.
Hilda and her best friend, Benji, are obsessed with celebrity deaths the seedier the better and are set to spend their summer touring macabre destinations in their hometown of Los Angeles. But their stop at the apartment where a silent movie star killed himself with a pair of scissors leads Hilda to meet Hank, a gruff old man with a secret. As Benji's death obsession becomes increasingly twisted, Hilda grows closer to Hank and his cute screenwriter neighbor, Jake. Hilda's morbid fascinations stem from her parents' deaths in a car crash, but her relationships with Hank, Jake, and her aunt bring her back to the land of the living. Chock-full of gory details of famous murders, suicides, and urban legends (Belushi, the Mansons, the Black Dahlia), Charles's first novel, published in Australia in 2009 as Hollywood Ending, is not for the faint of heart, but rewards readers with chill reminders of the all-consuming nature of celebrity and the transience of life. "Death didn't just come for me, or my parents," Hilda muses, "it came for everyone: the rich and famous, beautiful and privileged." Ages 14 up.