The ever-growing genre of astrology mysteries has found a new hero in astrologer-detective David Lowell, a street-smart, Aikido-savvy – and very wealthy – New Yorker. From his uptown townhouse to his downtown office, from posh restaurants to a Brooklyn warehouse, we take a tour in the best and worst of a hot summer in the city.
In this book (there’s also Murder in the 11th House and Evil in the 1st House), Lowell keeps us moving at a fast pace as he uses astrology to unravel the tangled strands of suspects in the murder of a famous but thoroughly despised rock star. Among the book’s little pleasures is figuring out which real-life rock stars are referenced by characters in the mystery (hint: it’s in the initials). There’s also the victim’s beautiful movie-star daughter, and in a romantic subplot, the astrologer actually gets the girl.
Lewis’ sense of a changing New York, one that no longer supports creativity and the freelance spirit, makes the city itself one of the story’s main players. The descriptions of an empty city on summer weekends or the throngs at the 4th of July fireworks show that the author knows his city, but, sadly, so do his paeans to closed music venues and the struggle to survive for all but the wealthy.
David Lowell is a dynamic astrologer by any standard. Athletic, but not overly so, determined, but not pushy, he is respected by both press and police. His limo features a computerized astrolabe, so you can imagine how his office is appointed. Lowell is intelligent and has a good sense of humor, traits that make him endearing to readers of the mystery.
Give Death in the 12th House a try. I review a lot of astro-mysteries, because I love mysteries – and astrology – and this one is certainly worthwhile. I’m looking forward to retrograding into the 11th house, and hope that Mitchell Lewis will take us through all four quadrants before long. He’s given us the best ‘cozy murder mystery’ New York detective since Nero Wolfe, and made an excellent contribution to the New Age Noir genre.
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