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Monday, November 5, 2012

Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules by Mitchell Scott Lewis

Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules by Mitchell Scott Lewis
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (332 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Someone is bumping off rock’s wrinkled royalty. After the death of the third aging rock star, fifty eight year old Freddie Finger, lead singer for multi-platinum Rocket Fire, astrologer detective David Lowell is brought into the case. Freddie wasn’t well liked, and Lowell has more than his hands full with suspects. Was it Freddie’s ex-wives, who seem more intent on killing each other than anyone else? His disgruntled band members, angry because Freddie’s solo career was threatening the band’s future? His greedy manager, busy promoting the death of a rock star? Or was it the musician whose career Freddie sabotaged many years ago? Freddie’s daughter, movie actress Vivian Younger, has retained Lowell’s services to help catch her father’s killer. She seems intrigued with this unusual man and his bizarre career. As they search for the truth, is there romance in the air for our stoic detective?

With the help of his staff: vivacious red-head assistant, Sarah, master hacker and psychic, Mort, and his driver and bodyguard, Andy, Lowell sifts through the birth charts of the characters and follows the clues to a surprising ending.

 Death in the 12th House is the second in Mitchell Scott Lewis’ Starlight Detective Agency series, and it is a fascinating look at the inside workings of an unusual and very different kind of detective agency. 

Someone is killing off aging rockers, and the police are more than a little stumped by it. When the body of bad boy Freddie Finger turns up, his daughter Vivian convinces the police to bring in astrologer detective David Lowell to help. With a case this high profile, the NYPD can use all the help they can get. There is a wealth of possible suspects: Freddie’s ex-wife number two and soon-to-be ex number three, a bitter ex-band member, a minor mob boss, and even Freddie’s manager are examined. With the help of master hacker and psychic Mort, and red-haired assistant Sarah, and chauffeur and bodyguard Andy, David must use his science and the stars to eliminate the innocent parties, and narrow down the field. Despite several attempts to stop him, David begins to close in on the truth, and the closer he gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Are all three murders related, or is there more than one plot here? Can David and his crew solve these murders before someone else gets hurt?

The character development is extremely well crafted, with people who are more than they seem in the lead roles. Even the bad guys are well done, and at times quite comical in their stereotypes. Mr. Lewis has done a marvelous job of incorporating the life of New York City into the world of the astrologer detective, giving a new look at many familiar locales.

This is a fast paced, edge-of-your seat mystery, with several side stories, at first seemingly related to the murders. I enjoyed watching as David slowly unraveled the threads and found the one that lead to the guilty parties, although there were times when the astrological terminology lost me for a bit. And in spite of the age difference, there is a brief fling between David and the rock star’s daughter, well crafted and sweetly done. There are some surprising twists in this, and I certainly didn’t see the ending of this one coming at all. For those who like a mystery that keeps you guessing till the end, this one works to fill that niche. A great reading experience with a surprising solution.

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