Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Equinox by Michael White .

Equinox is Michael's first novel and he wrote it in 2006, although he has written 25 non-fiction books from 1991. Equinox is a conspiracy thriller set in Oxford during 2006 but also involves tales from 1690 and 1851. The rear cover of this book reads...

Oxford, 2006: a young woman is found brutally murdered, her throat cut. Her heart has been removed and in its place lies an apparently ancient gold coin. Twenty-four hours later, another woman is found. The MO is identical, except that this time her brain has been removed, and a silver coin lies glittering in the bowl of her skull.

The police are baffled but when police photographer Philip Bainbridge and his estranged lover Laura Niven become involved, they discover that these horrific, ritualistic murders are not confined to the here and now. And a shocking story begins to emerge which intertwines Sir Isaac Newton, one of seventeenth-century England's most powerful figures, with a deadly conspiracy which echoes down the years to the present day, as lethal now as it was then.

...I enjoyed reading Equinox, it is a good book, I will give it 4 stars on Book Army . Equinox is different from other novels, it relates more to the concepts of the occult - the theme of this novel - rather than the characters. The story lasts for 380 pages but this is followed by 44 pages of "The Facts Behind the Fiction". These 2 parts fit together really well and compliment each other. At the end of the book you can look back and understand what Michael White has done. Michael has studied alchemy and the occult in great detail, a lot of research has gone into this book. He has then written a novel to lead the reader through an understanding of alchemy and many occult rituals. It is rather clever yet this is easy reading with a wonderful mix of fact and fiction. This novel has a steady pace and a reasoned plot. Philip and Laura work through contacts, the internet, books, puzzles and codes in the usual way of Da Vinci Code style novels. This informs the reader about the history of alchemy and the nature of the beast. You follow the learning curve with Philip and Laura although Michael does get it wrong on page 302...

Gail Honeywell, skin tanned, hair bleached blonde by Greek spring sun, dumped her rucksack on the floor of the waiting room at Victoria Coach Station, carefully avoiding the still-moist chewing gum and dark smudge of what she hoped was chocolate ... Through the filthy, semi-opaque glass she could see coaches turning and reversing, passengers getting on and off. A uniformed driver passed by the door; the room was empty... Gail replaced the receiver and picked up her bag just as a uniformed driver stuck his head round the door. 'You catching the five-thirty for Oxford, love?' he asked.
Gail nodded.
'Got a seat on the five-oh-nine if you want it. Old lady feels sick, decided to 'ave a cuppa tea and catch a later one - want it?'

...Well, laughing out loud! Coaches do not reverse in London Victoria Coach Station. You never see an empty waiting room, the waiting area is always busy and Gail was at a peak time. Drivers do not solicit passengers in the way described, they simply announce the route number and destination. The 509 service does not go to Oxford, you want the X90 from gate number 10. If you catch the 509 service then I may be the driver and I will take you to Cardiff, not Oxford!

What the reader takes away from this story is an idea that Michael weaves into the dialogue. The murders continue and Philip and Laura discuss why these occult rituals are happening. It does not matter what rubbish people believe in, fairies at the bottom of the garden, magic spells, alchemy and other occult lifestyles. These beliefs can be rubbish but because some people actually believe them, these actions including murder can happen. It is the nature of belief that allows these things to happen. Atheists will enjoy this book for obvious reasons as Michael gently teases all believers.

The ending of this novel is good with a nice twist that will please lovers of conspiracy novels. Follow that with the 44 pages of "The Facts Behind the Fiction" and you get a nice warm glow as you think to yourself "thought so".
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