Sixteen original (but not very) stories, most featuring a skeptic who comes to believe in the power of the stars even if the reader remains unconvinced. The three hit-men dabbling in astrological mayhem include Lawrence Block’s Keller, the possessor of a “murderer’s thumb”; Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s many-aliased Arizonian, who contemplates a star-mandated career change; and P.N. Elrod’s Tarrant, who’s either an Aries, a Pisces, or a Taurus, and lethal under any sign. Editor Perry checks in with a WWI tale of rival sisters and a birth-sign pin from a beau; Peter Tremayne presents seventh-century Celtic lawyer Sister Fidelma in a classic puzzle of free will vs. determinism; Marcia Talley depicts a writer destined to meet a mysterious woman who’s inconveniently married. Catherine Dain situates her murder at a psychic conference; Peter Lovesey and Simon Brett both pick off isolated astrology columnists. Astrological clues pinpoint murderers in Jon Breen’s who-killed-a-psychiatrist tale, Edward Marston’s boating party mishap engineered by someone born in the Chinese year of the horse, Jane Lindskold’s account of a serial killer run amok among birthdays, Bill Crider’s behind-the-scenes story of a 1940s movie star’s personal astrologer, and Lillian Stewart Carl’s reminiscence of the traitor concealed in a WWII manor house. But the two standouts are Mat Coward’s extremely witty believer/nonbeliever affair, “Reason to Believe,” and Brendan DuBois’s grandson/grandfather review of the Apollo 13 mission, “The Aquarius Mission.”
The editor’s introduction is too brief and slapdash to pick up all the obvious portents of the briefest of bookstore stints before most copies are remaindered or pulped.