Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New titles from Poison Pen # 1

Murder in the 11th House
Mitchell Scott Lewis
In stores Sept. 2011 (netgalley)

This amusing and fast paced "unusual detective" story is the first entry in the David Lowell "Starlight Detective Agency" series. Apparently Lewis is a famous astrologer, "astro-economist," and author of newsletters "Living by Starlight," or "Trading by Starlight" who predicted the Wall Street meltdown, but I have to say that I had never heard of him or his predictions. Personally, I don't believe in astrology at all but the detailed discussions of personal charts, houses, ascending planets and the rest added an air of verisimilitude to the story. There seems to have been some note of autobiography in the story. Well, write what you know,right?

It is set in NYC and has some nice notes of realism - traffic, cabs, restaurants, trips to Rikers - and an interesting although farfetched plot about a thwarted conspiracy to get a conservative judge elected president. One off note for me was how women were terribly attracted to this guy. He is rich but I think Lewis was getting a little carried away with the wonders of his alter-ego. Also he goes on a Jane Austin style "just a novel!" rant about the incredible track record of astrology and the idiocy of the non-believers. His grasp of police procedure and the justice system seemed a little spotty in these CSI days.

This series reminded me a little of the well written and much less polemical David Skibbens Weather Underground/tarot card reader detective series. And Skibbens is not trying to convince the reader that tarot is real.

Despite these caveats, it was a fun read, briskly paced, with unusual and well-developed
characters, fun futuristic elements, and not bad dialogue. I enjoyed it and will look for the next one.

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