on September 30, 2002
This mystery is superb. The plotting and idea (without giving anything away) are original and involving, the characters convincing with that "real" sense about them. Nowhere is this truer than in the character of the protagonist/narrator, Elizabeth Chase. I suspect there is more than a bit of Martha Lawrence in Ms. Chase (similar experiences and place of residence), but Ms. Lawrence makes her detective--and her unusual psychic gift--very accessible, human, and true by having her sometimes at a loss in dealing with that very gift, and having a down-to-earth, humorous attitude about the whole thing. This makes it easy for us to do so as well. There is no hocus-pocus here, just a very bright, dedicated detective trying to solve the mystery of a young woman's disappearance in a religious "cult" and encountering mysterious twists and real danger before the end. She gets to use her psychic gifts, but they are never really the focus of the story--it's mystery, not scifi/horror. There's sharp wit and intelligence here as well, and the story is delivered with a precise, involving, straightforward style that never bores. Ms. Lawrence and her detective are terrific! (Can't wait for more.)
on July 24, 2001
Perfect for mystery addicts who crave variety in their favorite genre. A good leisure read but not a transforming book (in the philosophical sense!) Still, I'd recommend it as a guilty pleasure. Engaging from page one, you will find yourself instantly involved in the life and work of Elizabeth Chase. Chase is a likeable, well developed character who is smart, and generally insightful, without regard to her unusual paranormal abilities. But sometimes the "psychic investigator" is just as bewildered as the rest of us--that's when a "little extra something" kicks in. It is good fantasy (if you don't believe) or comic comeuppance of the bad guys (if you do.) The best of a good mystery series combined with a daydreamy kind of "wouldn't it be nice..." fantasy too. This is a good read for airplane time or at the beach. I would not recommend it at bedtime because you won't want to put it down, and a bleary eyed bedmate may not appreciate it. Oh, yes, this is definitely what my husband calls a "chick" book. I'm not sure what that means... But this chick is looking forward to reading the entire series.
on March 9, 2001
This book was written with Lawrence's usual skill, but the attitude given to her detective, Elizateth, was unfortunate at best. There are dishonest and pathological people and relationships everywhere. I, however, am sick of hearing people use that reality and the word "cult" as an excuse to be intolerant of religious and spiritual views that are different from their own or that make them uncomfortable. Lawrence creates a "cult" that is handily devious and pathological. However, she has her detective scoff in a nasty and sarcastic way at religious concepts that have existed for thousands of years in religious traditions that are not her own. I, for one, do not read these books to hear the author espouse attitudes of intolerance. Lawrence has her detective cleaned with burning sage to clear negativity after exposure to the "cult." I needed sage after exposure to the negativity of this book.
I found Lawrence's first book wonderful, particularly in its positivity, lightness and humor. I disliked the gratuitous violence in her second book, as I dislike the intolerance in this one. I will try the next one, but if it's a bit like this one, that will be the last one of hers I read. I also agree with an earlier reviewer that the level of melodrama Lawerence uses is unwelcome in this genere.
on June 24, 2000
It will be hard to review this book without giving away major plot points (but I won't--promise!). Suffice it to say that while in the previous books, the heroine is intelligent and makes good decisions, in this book from the very beginning she makes very bad decisions. As if that isn't bad enough, the authorities around her also make bad decisions and the cost at the end is more than would be worth paying if this were "real life."
I like to read mysteries where the protagonist shows some skill in solving the mystery and where their good decisions (whether intuitive or otherwise) result in the solution. From the beginning, in this book, the heroine knows that bad things are going to happen and yet she keeps going anyway. What's the point of being psychic if you're not going to follow your intuition?
I was stunned and disappointed when I finished this one. I guess if you're a fan of this series you ought to read it anyway (and I still plan on reading the next one). But this is clearly the weakest of the three so far.
on December 12, 1998
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 Jen's 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 Jen's 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.
on February 25, 1999
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.
on February 5, 2000
When I pick up a Martha Lawrence mystery, I glow with the assurance that I am in the hands of a master story teller, and I'm never disappointed. Her prose has quiet power and confidence, her characters are completely believable, her plots enticing and complex. The psychic side of her sleuth is worked in so deftly and unsensationally that when you hear readers call Elizabeth a "psychic sleuth" that almost creates the wrong impression. She's a sleuth with some psychic powers that really feel more like a very intense form of intuition. And isn't that what cops and PIs use anyway? With Aquarius Descending, prepare to be entertained by a writer who's working at the top of her form. And when Lawrence leaps onto the best seller lists, as Sue Grafton has confidently predicted she will, and friends ask if you've read her, you can proudly feel you joined the Lawrence bandwagon early on.
on January 16, 2000
I really enjoyed Lawrence's first 2 books and was looking forward to this one. I couldn't be more disappointed. Without giving anything away, it has to be said that the ending of this book is UNBELEIVABLY contrived. Lawrence has presented characters who are smart and rational and the only way she can get to the denouement she wants is by having them act stupid and irrational, while throwing in some plot devices that made me want to throw the book across the room. Lawrence also joins in with a growing number of mystery authors who are turning the genre into soap opera. I like backstory in a mystery, especially in a series. A protaganist's relationships with family, friends and lovers add immeasurably to a reader's understanding of a character and, if done well, also adds to the reader's enjoyment. It's unfortunate that Lawrence chooses cliche and melodrama to try and entertain.
on February 3, 2000
I loved Martha Lawrence's first two books so I eagerly awaited her third and was not disapointed. In Aquarius Decending, Elizabeth Chase, main character and psychic investigator (yeah, she's a bit embarassed about the hoakiness her title inspires too) is sent to find her boyfriend, Tom McGowan's ex-girlfriend who has gone missing in a cult (the Bliss Project).
While she is reluctant to investigate a cult or have anything to do with her sweetie's ex - she finally agrees against her better judgement.
What was so great about this book was the way Martha handled the cult aspect. She wrote about a very believeable cult and from Elizabeth's eye -showed the way that they lure you in.
Beyond, being glad to hear what her friends have been up to since the last book - I found Aquarius entertaining and a fast-paced read.
on March 25, 1999
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!