Do you secretly relish fiendish murders where organs are removed and ancient coins put in their place? Does your heart sing whenever you hear the words “occult”, “secret society”, “ancient rituals” or “alchemy”? Are you intrigued by historical figures such as Issac Newton? Do you like short exciting chapters that make you want to read on? Do you enjoy Dan Brown?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions then Equinox by Michael White is the book for you!
Equinox is about a series of murders that happen in Oxford and starts strong with the stalking and murder of the first victim (a young woman) being told in the voice of the mysterious and meticulous killer. You are then introduced to the two main protagonists: Philip Bainbridge who is a crime-scene photographer; and his ex and mother of his child, Laura Niven who changed career from crime journalist to crime author. The investigation of the mystery is mainly done by the two, with a bit of help from their mathematics student daughter, Jo and her boyfriend Tom who has an interest in Astrology, and they actually find out more than the investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Monroe. From the first murder Philip and Laura become involved. Philip is called to photograph the scene but as he was giving Laura a lift he stops in with her and tells her to wait in the car until he is finished. Laura, of course, doesn’t wait in the car but instead goes snooping behind the flaps of the crime scene tent and sees the gristly murder close-up: the young woman’s throat has been slit and her chest cavity opened to remove her heart. She then finds out that in place of the heart there is an ancient gold coin which looks Egyptian. The next day a similar murder is discovered, but this time a young woman’s brain has been removed and the coin is silver. From then on Laura is determined to find out more about the ancient coins and to use the murders as a starting point for a new novel, but when she starts her research she finds that the murders go back much further then she thought and follow a specific pattern.
When Laura finds out about the coins she discovers something that leads her to believe that there will be more deaths very soon and the whole business becomes much more serious than a good idea for a best-seller. The first murder was committed on the vernal equinox (one of the two days a year when the day and night are equal) at the point when the sun entered the astrological sign of Aries, a planet that is associated with the heart and gold, and Laura thinks the other murder will also coincide with a planetary alignment. When her daughter’s boyfriend goes onto an astrology website they work out that the second murder happened when the moon (which is associated with the brain and silver) entered Aries and that three planets are due to enter the same sign over the next week forming a five-body conjunction, an event that has only happened a handful of times over the past thousand years.
The mystery progresses quickly from there, with pieces coming together in a very satisfying Ah! moment kinda way. Through most of the book there are also chapters that are set in 1690 following Alchemist Issac Newton and they give good historical context to the whole mystery. Plus there is a “truth behind the fiction” section at the end of the book, that really shows the extensive research the author has done and is just pretty interesting 🙂 I recommend it to anyone who likes secret societies and ritual murder mysteries….especially if you like Dan Brown 😛
I give Equinox by Michael White: