Monday, March 18, 2013
Death in the Twelfth House: Where Neptune Rules by Mitchell Scott Lewis
Reviewed by Jeanne
The death of one aging rock star wasn’t unusual. Two might be deemed coincidence. But when a third is found, the police find themselves on the hot seat. The most recently departed was Freddie Finger, an egotistical womanizer who had managed to alienate a good number of his fellow musicians and business people, which means there are no end of suspects.
One person who is definitely not happy with the police investigation is model/actress Vivian Younger, whose interest in the case is personal: Freddie was her father. She has the money and the connections to be a major thorn in the investigation’s side, so the lead investigator makes no objection when she wants to hire astrologer David Lowell. Lowell has worked with the police before, and Inspector Roland has seen enough to think the astrologer might be on to something. At the very least, Lowell is discrete and should keep the daughter occupied so the department can investigate in relative peace. Since Lowell is also independently wealthy with his own investigative resources, he can actually be useful to the police as well.
Death in the Twelfth House is the second in Mitchell Scott Lewis' “Starlight Detective Agency Mystery” series, but you need not have read the first to enjoy this one. While I enjoyed the first book, there were a few rough edges in some of the writing. (You can read the full review here.) This second book is smoother, less self-conscious. Minor characters aren’t over-explained, for one thing. The plotting is good and the characters are a bit better developed this time around. Sarah his office assistant gets a bit of a chance to shine, even though she's a bit of a skeptic Lowell is much less stiff and even uses contractions on a more regular basis.
As before, Lowell explains a lot about charts while using concrete examples so that you really don’t have to know anything about astrology to follow along. He makes it all sound fascinating and even easy. This book does an especially good job of showing how interpretation makes the difference in a reading. There are nuances that take a trained eye to sort out, and to not leap to the easy conclusions, just as a meteorologist needs to know his own specific location to better predict weather based on readings. Lowell's also just a bit less opinionated, or more accurately less apt to lecture people on his views. This can be seen as either a plus or a minus, depending on one’s politics.
Personally, I’d had my doubts about this second book because of the rock and roll theme. It’s not that I have anything against rock and roll or the music business, but I’ve both read and seen this scenario and it’s just not something that particularly interested me as a plot setting. I think in part it’s because it seems to be that the authors are sometimes trying to get a sort of reflected glamor among the rich and famous while editorializing about the lifestyle. Despite Freddie being a sort of stereotypical rock star with the angry ex-wives and band mates, I never felt the story was too tawdry or that the author was using the setting to punch up a weak plot.
Lewis is a professional astrologer who also worked in the music business. His website is Mitchastro.com. In addition to information about the books, he also posts a monthly astrological newsletter.
If you have an interest in astrology that goes beyond the daily horoscope in the paper or you like cozy mysteries with a bit of an edge, you might give this series a try!