In Kale’s (Harm, 2014, etc.) novel, the first in a series, astrologer Morgan Sterling’s delicately balanced routine gets shaken up when a charming detective solicits her professional help solving a cold kidnapping case.
At 32, Morgan Sterling has just managed to put the pieces of her life back in place after an undisclosed tragic event left her without her baby and husband. Although Morgan lacks the psychic gift bestowed upon the previous three generations of women in her family, she’s a moderately successful astrologer with a practice enriched by graduate-level education in psychology. She spells out how astrology informs her inferences about people: of her neighbor, Morgan thinks, “He had a Pisces Sun and an Aries Moon, a difficult combination. He was sympathetic yet pushy.” Regardless of whether the reader subscribes to astrology, these inferences peppered throughout provide a quick, dynamic picture of each character. Detective Daniel Kane, an astrology skeptic, asks for Morgan’s help at the behest of his sister, who happens to be Morgan’s best friend. Daniel is an on-probation detective with a tumultuous love life to match, seeking to both right a past wrong and gain professional respect by solving a seemingly uncrackable kidnapping. For Morgan, the case offers an opportunity to live up to the success of her esteemed mother. The kidnapping victim in question is the baby of a beautiful former cheerleader and a self-made grocery store chain mogul from Mexico. Other somewhat far-fetched characters in the case include a trainer dubbed “Exercise Barbie” by Morgan, a meathead named Boris, and the nanny’s shady ex-convict brother. Morgan is a well-developed character, though, internally struggling between self-doubt and determination to prove her merit. The mystery gradually fades into the background behind an unlikely romance between the astrologer and skeptical detective, another version of the handsome, winsome man unexpectedly choosing plain Jane. Fortunately, Kale manages to keep the romance, though a bit cliché, from becoming overly saccharine.
A light read for fans of female-driven mysteries.