Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules
The Starlight Detective Agency Mysteries, Book #2
By Mitchell Scott Lewis
ISBN# 978-1464200601
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Verushka

I want to preface this review by saying I haven’t yet read the first book in this series, so forgive me if I miss something that has been mentioned in that one.

David Lowell is a wealthy astrologer, who just happens to run his own detective agency, the very lyrically named: Starlight Detective Agency. What intrigued me about this book was that David uses astrology to solve his cases. Having had my own chart done recently and understanding nothing of that reading, I was looking forward to reading something from an accomplished astrologer like Lewis, and I wasn’t disappointed. In that respect, the book is engaging, and for a layperson, easy to understand in terms of the astrology aspects.

In this title, David is called in to investigate the death of Freddie Finger, an aging rocker – I kept thinking of Keith Richards when I was reading about Freddie. His is the third murder of an aging rock star and his daughter, Vivian, a famous actress, hires David to look into his murder. As a result, David spends his time looking into Freddie’s wives, band-mates and manager to try and find out what happened to him. It is very much a ripped from the headlines story and the resolution was unexpected to say the least. All in all, the mystery/case aspect of this title was well done.

Another powerful aspect of this book is Lewis’ love for NYC, which is apparent in his vivid descriptions of the city David lives and works in. Having read and seen a lot of photos of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the vivid descriptions of the city are a joy to read.

But back to David. Lewis’ style of writing is very laid back, and for certain aspects of the book, it works very well, but, as the book progresses, the tone never shifts. That becomes a weak part of what is a mystery series – the bulk of David’s investigative technique involves interviewing people, asking them (or finding out through research) their birth details in order to create their charts, which help him direct his investigation. It’s interesting, but for a detective novel, it is devoid of tension, of a sense of David’s urgency to find Freddie’s killer. Instead, he walks the neighborhood, or takes a drive to think.

David is also a character who doesn’t struggle against anything (though I stand to be corrected considering the implications of the end – it reads like a reference to something that causes him angst from the first book) – he is wealthy, he travels in a limo, the cops trust him and his methods and he is renowned and successful. Granted, not every PI has to be poor, down on his luck and struggling for something in his life, but coupled with the laid back nature of the writing it contributed to the one-tone of the book.

There is an attempt at a romance, but it reads as a perfunctory part of the book, and is woefully under-developed. There are no stand outs in the secondary cast of characters either. I think this is a premise with such potential for more exciting stories, something I hope to see in future titles.