Fresh Meat: Death in the 12th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis

Death in the 12th House by Mitchell Scott LewisDeath in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules is the second in the Starlight Detective Agency mystery series by Mitchell Scott Lewis (available November 6, 2012).

Someone is bumping off rock’s wrinkled royalty. After the death of the third aging rock star, lead singer Freddie Finger, astrologer-detective David Lowell takes on the case, scrutinizing suspects’ charts for any clues in the stars that could point to a killer.

It seems that this case will not be easy to crack since the victim had many enemies. Actually, he didn’t seem to have any friends at all. The only one who seems to care about him in the end is his daughter Vivian Younger, a multitalented young woman and a real celebrity, who got to know him a little bit better just before he died. And she needs closure. So when she realizes that the cops are getting nowhere with the investigation, she decides to hire Lowell to help with the case.

Lowell believes that everything is written in the stars, and so do the people who live—or should I say orbit—around him. He’s helped them out many times and he’s even solved a crime, which ignited the spark that brought his detective agency to life. At one time he was rich and famous, a star, but then a devastating event changed his world and he felt empty. The money and the fame did not go away, but for him they no longer count. What counts is his work, and his work is to help people; even those who are reluctant to believe in him.

“You can’t tell someone’s fortune from their birthday,” he could hear his friends beseeching him. The very same friends who, through the years, would eventually come to him seeking help, most having long ago become converts. He had foreseen divorces, accidents, and diseases long before they manifested. He had told his friends things about their young children that, as time went by, had come to pass.

Now he has to convince this young and extremely beautiful woman, Vivian, that he’s not a charlatan, that he can indeed read the stars.

Astrology is an intricate, mathematically precise science we now call astronomy, coupled with an intuitive art that connects a humanist response to the celestial events. This connection between intellect and intuition is something that seems difficult for western man, especially Americans to recognize… because… people don’t like the concept of things being taken out of their control. Many seem to feel that astrology does that.

Well, it doesn’t, and it will not take him long to make a believer out of Vivian. But Lowell has too many questions to ask, too many pieces to put together, and too many variables to analyze. His hands are full and he’ll need a lot of help to solve this riddle. The path to the final solution will be paved with danger, but it will also have in store some pleasant surprises for him; surprises he didn’t foresee because he refuses to read his own fortune.

This book is not just about crime and astrology though; it also talks about the music, or rather the musicians; the lucky few that score big and the majority who are struggling to make ends meet. The future seems bleak for the latter, but not for them only.

“In fifty years they’ll forget all about us.”

“How can you say that?” Bobby seemed sincerely upset.

“Because that’s the way it is. Music stars, movie stars, superstars, politicians, what’s the difference? There will never be anyone as huge and important to movies as Charlie Chaplin. Go into a Blockbuster’s and ask someone under the age of thirty for a Chaplin film. If he ever heard of him he probably couldn’t name a single one of his movies.

“Man, things have changed so much already. The new stars are all invented. There’s no room for originality anymore, that’s a thing of the past. How long do you think I would last on American Idol?”

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this novel, not so much for the subject matter and plot, but mostly for its characters. We have a sad astrologer, a genius psychic, a humble diva, a mobster who’s so fat that he has to move sideways to pass through doors, two women who hate each other but who can bond just fine under the beautiful arc of money, and a criminal who’s as stupid as they come. Put them all together and what you get is a splendid cocktail of mystery and fun, hatred and love.

Find more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Lakis Fourouklas has published four novels and three short-story collections in Greek. He’s currently translating his work into English and blogs at Fiction & More. He also keeps a few blogs in Greek regarding general fiction, Japanese literature, and crime fiction. Follow him on Twitter: @lakisf.  He lives in the wilderness of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Read all posts by Lakis Fourouklas for Criminal Element.

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