In a society divided along Zodiac lines, status is cast at birth – and binding for life. Who you are can be determined by a matter of days, hours, even minutes.
When a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different signs, is it a misguided revolution or the work of a serial killer?
All eyes are on Detective Jerome Burton and profiler Lindi Childs as they work to solve the case. They may disagree over whether the answers are written in the stars, but they are united by their belief that a grand plan is being executed…
The Signs are everywhere. But is the truth written in the stars or hiding in the shadows?
A Goldsboro Books, Book of the Month that has sat on my shelf since arrival in October 2016.
A really interesting premise that felt like a timely read when there has been so much highlighted recently about inequality, race and police brutality. This book isn’t overtly about these issues, but rather a fantasy world where the zodiac system operates as a type of Caste system. Let me explain more.
We begin the book with a description of the signs, a who’s who if you like. We learn that Capricorns are the elite, the smallest group in the city but the brightest stars, controlling most of the wealth. At the other end of the spectrum are the Aries, the underclass, violent, uncontrollable and unemployable. Taurus are reliable and hard working, the majority work in the public sector and most of the police force are Taurean. You get the picture.
What follows is a comprehensive story told in a then and now format. ‘Now’, the chief of police has been murdered, followed by a well known chat show host, these murders appear to be related to the signs but what does it all mean? The ‘then’ part points us to the killer and the explanation for these murders, plus much more. The stories are told in parallel and not explicitly stated, however the story is very easy to follow.
But what really resonated with me was the ideas of difference and the attributes ascribed to people based on something arbitrary like their start sign, please don’t mistake me, I am not dismissing astrology but this was wholly defining, limiting and stigmatizing. Those born under the wrong sign had dire problems, parents could choose to try to hide this, pay to have dates changes and attempt to disguise characteristics not consistent with the star sign or risk being ostracised.
What we saw was Aries behaving badly, unable to work and assumed guilty at every juncture. Their circumstances led to poverty and so an increase in crime occurred. And the police had a special task force to deal with Aries – The Ram Squad who had special license to deal with this problematic group, brutality to this underclass was easy to hide, if not ignored altogether. This is a strong crime story but for me the original zodiac theme and its parallels with our society are where it’s strength lies.
Thought provoking in terms of how facts are presented, in this book the zodiac is how people are defined, limitations are recognised, as is disadvantage, however with movement nigh on impossible there is no motivation to change for those who have the power to action this. This could easily be a book about race, gender, sexuality or disability. It is a book written about inequality which effectively highlights the ridiculousness of any system that judges on predetermined characteristics rather than recognising and valuing difference.
This book really shouldn’t have sat on my shelf for so long. Read this if you want to educate yourself about unequal systems and how they self perpetuate. And read this if you just want to read an original and very good crime story.
About the Author
Sam Wilson was born in London and moved to Zimbabwe as a child before settling in South Africa. In 2011 he was listed as one of the ‘Top 200 Young South Africans’ and is now a TV director based in Cape Town. Zodiac is his debut novel.