Ashes of Aries
When Matthew Fielding, the four-year-old son of a telecommunications mogul, turns up missing, the psychic skills of P.I. Elizabeth Chase are requested. Soon after, a wildfire breaks out in the secluded community where Matthew's family lives. Aided by the Santa Ana winds, flames rage out of control and the consequences prove deadly. When a second fire sweeps through Fieldings' company headquarters, Elizabeth suspects that forces more sinister than nature are at work. Are the arson fires connected to the kidnapping and--more importantly--can Elizabeth find Matthew before it's too late?
--Eilene Zimmerman, San Diego Magazine
"The very rich telecommunications mogul Frank Fielding s four-year-old son Matthew has disappeared. Out of desperation, the San Diego sheriffs department turns to the psychic P. I. Elizabeth Chase. Her abilities sense fire, and she is right on when a fierce firestorm rips through the Fieldings neighborhood that they share with Chases parents. The fire kills both Fieldings, and threatens Chase personally when she must battle its dangers to determine if her own parents survived. A second fire near the Starcom Company that Fielding founded establishes a pattern of arson that shifts the focus of the investigation away from the missing Matthew and more towards the motive for his kidnapping. The descriptions of these California wildfires are powerful and frightening. Fire becomes a metaphor, destroying most things in its path, before beginning a cycle of renewal. The motive for arson becomes the key to the struggle to end the destruction and capture a murderer. Chase tries to work this case with a professional team of investigators split on whether or not they believe in her capabilities. What keeps this series so interesting is that Chase doubts her own abilities and is vulnerable to the timing of her gift. What happens is that this P. I. has to practice solid detective methods to get to her goal and this has matured her over the five books in this series into one of the more dependable female P. I.s in the field. Recommended."
--Gary Warren Niebuhr, Mystery News
"Psychic private eye Elizabeth Chase employs her particular skills to locate a kidnapped four-year-old San Diego boy and an arsonist responsible for a nearby terrible wildfire. Could arsonist and kidnapper be one and the same? A fine series."
"Lawrence brings back psychic detective Elizabeth Chase in this steadily improving series. Wealthy neighbors of Elizabeth's parents in San Diego have lost their four-year-old son Matthew. As the Santa Ana winds blow, Elizabeth is called in by skeptical yet desperate police to find the boy, who disappeared without a trace. When Matthew's parents are killed in a suspicious fire, Elizabeth investigates the father's controversial high-tech company, Starcom. Motivated by her strong feeling that little Matthew is still alive, Elizabeth races to find him, using a combination of psychic powers and traditional investigative skills. Helping develop her powers once again is mysterious shaman Sequoia, introduced in Pisces Rising. Just as skeptical police are dismissive of Elizabeth's power, so skeptical readers may resist the idea of a psychic sleuth, but Lawrence makes her character believable by stressing Elizabeth's humility and honesty, as well! as the awe she feels about her gift."
--Jenny McLarin, Booklist
"Exactly what I wanted, and a pleasant surprise at that, Lawrence's newest book in the Elizabeth Chase psychic PI series is a quick read. To be honest, I had just about given up on American female PI novels--they all sound the same--but I picked this one up on a whim and found that I liked the characters enough in chapters 1 and 2 that I kept reading--and to my delight, discovered that the author can plot, that her characterizations are fair and accurate, and the psychic phenomena were downright interesting. At the beginning Elizabeth is practicing archery with her friend Sequoia, a Native American shaman. Reminiscent of both Star Wars and basic Zen philosophy, Sequoia advises Elizabeth to use the power around her, whether she is aiming an arrow or investigating a case. The advice comes in handy when Elizabeth is called to help look for a missing child. She is both hindered and assisted by a nosy television reporter, various police, FBI, and fire department personnel. Elizabeth's parents get involved, too, when their neighborhood burns up. The wildfire descriptions are exceptional and serve to keep the tension crackling. I could practically smell the smoke. Lawrence hits the bull's-eye."
--The Drood Review
"I read this book in one big gulp, and I'm so glad I did. The tempo never let up, steady and strong as the Santa Ana winds fueling the fires in this fast-paced mystery.
--Sandie Herron, I Love A Mystery
"It's October, and San Diego swelters in the hot, dry embrace of the Santa Ana winds, while in canyons and on mesas, tinder-dry brush waits for a spark to set it ablaze. It's a scenario that county residents know well, and one that local author Martha C. Lawrence employs skillfully in the latest installment of her series starring psychic detective Elizabeth Chase.
--San Diego Union-Tribune
"The hot Santa Ana winds blow a constant background to psychic investigator Elizabeth Chase's latest case. Matthew Fielding, four-year-old son of wealthy high-tech mogul Franklin Fielding, has been kidnapped from their Rancho Santa Fe home, next door to Elizabeth's parents' house. Faced with no clues and no ransom note, the cops call in Elizabeth. In the Fieldings' house, she smells smoke, although there is ostensibly no fire. Within hours, though, a wildfire is raging through Rancho Santa Fe. Racing to help her parents, Elizabeth takes TV reporter Randy Twain into the inferno to save his camerawoman, who was nearly overcome while filming the Fieldings' incineration in their Jaguar. Elizabeth's parents and their home survive the blaze, but Matthew, now an orphan, is still missing. Meanwhile, the fire department discovers that although the Santa Anas fanned the flames, an arsonist is responsible for exploding the Fieldings' propane tank. Convinced Matthew is still alive, Elizabeth investigates Franklin Fielding's family, including the childless sister he named Matthew's guardian, and Starcom, his giant telecommunications company. With unsolicited help from reporter Twain, she uncovers executives inflamed by rivalries and protesters incensed by environmental issues. Sifting through the ashes of more arson, and battered by the unrelenting Santa Anas, Elizabeth must trust a clairvoyant vision to find Matthew--and her mother's strength to save her from the arsonist.
Complemented by more mundane detective work, Chase's psychic intuition fits right into the apocalyptic southern California landscape. Lawrence jazzes up traditional hard-boiled hunches with New Age parapsychology to deliver old-fashioned excitement."
"In her fifth astrological adventure (after 2000s PISCES RISING), psychic PI Elizabeth Chase faces an unusual and riveting mystery that will give pause to even the most ardent skeptics. When San Diego telecommunications mogul Frank Fieldings four-year-old son, Matthew, disappears, the Fieldings ask detective Bruce Loebman to call in Elizabeth for help. But before the unconventional sleuth, whom Loebman reluctantly consults, has a chance to focus on the case, a wildfire, fueled by the Santa Ana winds, ravages the exclusive community where the Fieldings live, destroying property and thousands of acres of land. When another fire breaks out, she discovers that its the work of an arsonist who may also be Matthews kidnapper. Dismissed by doubting Thomases, Elizabeth steps up her own investigation to find the little boy before its too late. Her two Ph.D.s from Stanford and her prior psychic successes arent necessary to make her a plausible, likable heroine, but they dont hurt. Her work with her shaman-mentor, the Luiseno Indian Sequoia, only adds to her credibility, as he teaches her to harness power from the natural world around her that the author describes so well. Lawrence effectively combines the earthly and the inexplicable in this fascinating page-turner, and its dramatic ending will delight committed fans as well as attract new ones.