Murder in the Eleventh House: A Starlight Detective Agency Mystery by Mitchell Scott Lewis (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 239 pages)
This debut mystery novel with, dare I say it, a quirky twist, captivated me from the first page. The main character’s name is David Lowell, which is not that unusual except that my late father’s first and middle names were David Lowell. Author Mitchell Scott Lewis has a distinct advantage when it comes to attention-grabbing in other ways as well. The Starlight Detective Agency relies upon astrology for sleuthing insights. Moreover, prospective clients are vetted when they first encounter Mr. Lowell. He provides an unvarnished astrological reading that doesn’t always sit well. Since the agency does not rely on fees, the clients tend to be more interesting than well-heeled.
The author has made good use of his own life for the premise of the tale. Like David Lowell, Lewis has made money by investing according to astrological information. He, too, is an astrological consultant with a credible client list. The thoughtfulness and dedication he uses to portray the other main characters, Melinda (Lowell’s daughter) and Johnny Colbert (the desperate client), make this a gentle engaging read. The reader need not be a believer in astrology or even have an inkling of how it works. Lewis fits in just enough background information to lend credibility to an often-misunderstood discipline.
Johnny Colbert is a tough and street-wise female bartender who is caught in a situation that many folks experience only as a nightmare. A judge is murdered, Johnny recently made a threat on the judge’s life in open court and there’s little doubt as to who committed the murder. Melinda, who is an attorney with a white glove firm, has taken on Johnny’s defense as pro bono work for the firm. She feels that Johnny has been wrongfully accused. Of course Melinda knows that her dad has plenty of wisdom and technical experience to shift the case from hopeless to a better outcome.
The plot has just enough twists and red herrings to keep the reader involved and engaged. This book is a mini vacation and very much worth the price of the ticket.