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Aquarius Descending
by Martha C. Lawrence
cover List Price: $23.95
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Hardcover - 304 pages 1 edition (January 1999)
St Martins Pr (Trade); ISBN: 0312198299 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.32 x 9.56 x 6.43

Avg. Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Number of Reviews: 5

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From Booklist , January 1, 1999
Readers who think a series featuring a "psychic investigator" must necessarily be corny will be surprised by Lawrence's Elizabeth Chase series. In fact, Elizabeth's mistrust of, and slight embarrassment over, her psychic powers endears her to the reader from the start. In this third installment of the series, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Tom McGowan, asks her to help find a missing woman. What makes this case different (and difficult) is that the woman is Tom's ex-fiancee. Jen Shaffer joined a cult several years ago and has not been heard from for the past two years. Her father fears the worst when her medic-alert bracelet arrives in the mail. Elizabeth goes undercover as a member of the cult and soon finds it hard to resist the mental manipulation. Lawrence's description of the cult sheds light on a scary and sad world where people are forced to lose their identities. Fans of the independent, self-deprecating heroines of Marcia Muller and Karen Kijewski will enjoy Elizabeth Chase. Jenny McLarin
Copyright© 1999, American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Kirkus Reviews , December 15, 1998
Who's the logical person to look into the ten-year-old disappearance of crime-victim activist Jen Shaffer after three other investigators fail (one did nothing, the second vanished himself, the third was scared off the case)? It's Elizabeth Chase, of course, the San Diego p.i. who's also a P.I. (Psychic Investigator). Jen's father Vince and her brother Jeremy remain staunchly convinced that she'd never leave them behind willingly to join a cult that changed its name from The Church of the Risen Lord to The Bliss Project to avoid association with right-wing fundamentalists (a nice touch). Jen must be held captive, they tell Elizabeth, or dead, as the package containing her Medic Alert bracelet darkly suggests. So after making the obligatory review of the case, Elizabeth, urged on by her main squeeze, FBI agent Tom McGowan, goes undercover as one Whitney Brown, a slightly psychic, slightly skeptical candidate for The Bliss Project's high-priced rocket to nirvana. The basic plot is as old as E. Phillips Oppenheim, but Lawrence handles its formulathe perilous masquerade that will lead to revelations most readers suspect early onwith quiet confidence, rising tension, the occasional surprise, and a welcome air of realism that doesn't flag until the final melodramatic flourishes. Though Elizabeth's third case (The Cold Heart of Capricorn, 1997, etc.) makes more use of traditional detective work than of psychic powers, readers will likely find it her most polished appearance yet. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Book Description
Martha C. Lawrence's "remarkable first novel" (Library Journal), Murder in Scorpio, introducing psychic detective Elizabeth Chase, won her nominations for all three of America's most prestigious mystery awards, while the refreshingly down-to-earth Elizabeth was recognized as a unique and wonderful new heroine. The acclaim continued with her second mystery, The Cold Heart of Capricorn, with raves about this "superior shocker" (San Diego Union-Tribune) "that offers a truly intelligent heroine to solve it" (Denver Post). New Elizabeth Chase is back in an explosive new novel, packed with danger and suspense, that sends her deep within the ranks of a cultlike community that calls itself The Bliss Project.

Tom McGowan, Elizabeth's cop boyfriend, asks her to take on a case that seems to be more in her line of work than in his. The father of Tom's ex-fiancee has come to him in desperation: He fears a mysterious package he's just received means that his daughter, who has disappeared in The Bliss Project, must be dead or in terrible trouble.

Although Elizabeth is not too keen on the idea of accepting a case so close to home--she didn't even know Tom had an ex-finacee, and The Bliss Project's efforts at mind control threaten to wreak havoc on her finely attuned senses-she agrees to investigate. But infiltrating a cult is no easy matter, especially one that seems to have as many secrets as this one, and soon Elizabeth finds herself in a life-and-death battle that will lead to a shocking conclusion.

Reluctantly persuaded to investigate the disappearance of her boyfriend's ex-fiancee into a cult, licensed P.I. Elizabeth Chase goes undercover. But have her unique powers finally met their match?.

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Customer Comments
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars Number of Reviews: 5

A reader from California , June 25, 1999 3 out of 5 stars
My antipathy was emotional.
I was so "turned off" by the subject matter (cults) that I couldn't enjoy the story. I have read Lawrence's other two mysteries and thought they were good, but this I was glad to be done with.

John Russell <> from New York State , March 25, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
Martha C. Lawrence and Elizabeth Chase at their finest!
Poignant, insightful work that directly addresses the problematic institutions of "religion" head on, no holds barred!

Elizabeth confronts power, psychic and otherwise, used, abused, and misunderstood, and comes away with another piece of the puzzle we each put together in our lives.

As usual, Martha is on target with portrayals of characters who are true-to-life, and gives us insights into motivations good, bad, and otherwise.

As is typical of her other fine works, she boldly examines spiritual areas of our lives that most are afraid to discuss, much less confront, and manages to get her messages across without ever being preachy or didactic, all the while maintaining a fine sense of pace, action, and adventure.

Don't miss this one!

A reader from Fostoria, OH , February 25, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
A tense, exciting and wonderfully written book.
Elizabeth Chase is a psychic PI, but don't let the occult element turn you off. Elizabeth is NOT a flake, but a very real and very centered person who realizes her gift is not something that she can control at will. In the third installment of this remarkable series, Elizabeth goes undercover to find a woman who became embroiled in a cult. The missing woman was the college girl friend of Elizabeth's FBI agent lover. Once inside the Bliss Project, Elizabeth must use all her strength of character as well as some methods that might be described as paranormal to keep her own sanity--and to remain alive. Almost unbearably tense as Elizabeth comes closer and closer to the truth, this is a not-to-be-missed novel. It is probably not necessary to read the first two in the series, but if you pick this one up, you'll immediately want the other two titles. And I don't have to be psychic to know that. from Olney, IL , February 22, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
Excellent read for lovers of P.I. series
This is the first Lawrence book that I have read and now plan to backtrack and read the first two. A sure winner in the investigative field with a real twist as she solves the case using her psychic powers. It has it all: romance, mystery, cults, missing persons, and an atypical ending. What makes the book so great is that Elizabeth has just "enough" psychic powers to make her believable. If you live for a great mystery P.I. character - Lawrence has written a real winner. , December 12, 1998 5 out of 5 stars
The dawning of the age of psychic detective Elizabeth Chase

FBI agent Tom McGowen fails to convince his girlfriend, psychic detective Elizabeth Chase, to search for his missing former fiancee, Jen Shaffer. However, Tom persuades Elizabeth to meet with Jenís father, who offers her $25,000 to find his missing daughter. The sweetener induces a still reluctant Elizabeth to accept the case.

Elizabeth learns that Jen joined a cult, the Church of the Risen Lord, immediately following her break-up with Tom. Not too long after becoming a member, Jen ended all communication with her family. Recently, her father received Jenís medical alert bracelet. This leads him into believing she is in trouble if not already dead. Elizabeth joins the cult, knowing full well that if they uncover her true identify, they will eradicate her.

The third Chase tale, AQUARIUS DESCENDING, continues the classy tradition of the first two novels (MURDER IN SCORPIO and THE COLD HEART OF CAPRICORN). Elizabeth remains a fabulous and unique sleuth and her support cast (recurring and new) adds much dimension to an already deep story line. Do not let the psychic hot-line fool the reader into thinking this novel is babble. Instead, the book is a well-designed, very plausible, and extremely suspense-laden tale that shows that the dawning of the age of Martha C. Lawrence is upon us.

Harriet Klausner

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