Criminal profiler Axel Crowe investigates the killing of a New York heiress, and discovers her death is linked to two other murders on the same day: a dot-com millionaire in San Francisco, and the team leader of a counter-terrorist project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. A finder of wayward people and stolen possessions, the enigmatic Crowe profiles subjects in a distinctly unique manner – using astrology, palmistry and other unconventional techniques. Facts are gross, but the truth is subtle, Crowe’s guru used to say. And although the truth behind this three-way conspiracy lies buried in the past, Crowe is relentless until he uncovers it.
Many reviewers have commented that, no matter whether you’re just curious about astrology, a beginner, intermediate or professional, there’s something here for everyone — to learn or be inspired. See the review highlights from the astrological press here.
To expose people to the series, this is the first of several excerpts I’ll post from SCORPIO RISING, basically to introduce Axel Crowe and his unconventional profiling techniques. The excerpt that follows is taken from Chapter 4, in which Crowe and Margo Riordon, a forensics instructor from the Toronto Police Services, have been invited to speak to a Criminology class at the University of Toronto:
Crowe held up his hand. “I’d like to talk about the future. As Margo said, police forces now have more data than ever to work with, so if a fingerprint isn’t available from the crime scene but a writer’s palm is, they can still match a suspect to a crime. Aside from providing identification, these additional points of reference also supply fresh data for profiling – using fingerprints and handprints to extrapolate behavioral characteristics of the perpetrator.”
A hand went up in the audience. Crowe nodded to the young man. “But fingerprints aren’t currently used in profiling,” the student said. “Or did I miss that episode of CSI?”
“You’re absolutely right, but I predict that within a decade fingerprint technicians will routinely print the entire palm for purposes of both identification and analysis, the latter of which will provide input to the process of offender profiling.”
“And you think FPTs will do the profiling as well?”
“Depends on their interest and talent. Patrol officers get promoted to detectives. With training, FPTs could become handprint profilers. Even if the job seems routine, it involves pattern recognition which is interpretive.”
A young woman raised her hand. “Could you give us an example of a suspect profile based on the hand?”
Crowe looked at the fingerprint form still projected on the screen. At a glance he saw sufficient detail to make a good example. He turned to Margo who’d taken a seat in the first row. “Margo, do I know the identity of the person whose prints are shown here, or any background regarding crimes they may have committed?”
“No,” Margo said.
“I’ll start my profile with the structural elements of the hand.” Crowe used the laser to point at the form. “In the flat, the index finger is short and the ring finger very long. There’s a scientific correlation between testosterone and index-to-ring finger length ratios so I’ll play the odds and say this is a man’s hand. Based on the same ratio, I’d say this person has low self esteem but takes risks to prove himself. The pinkie is long, delicate, and crooked, so he’s a white collar criminal.”
He pointed the laser at another feature. “In the right-hand writer’s palm, a horizontal line an inch above the wrist suggests substance abuse. Since it also appears in the left hand, a family history of the same.”
He targeted another aspect. “Within the inter-digitals, loops flanking the ring finger indicate cleverness and entrepreneurial instincts. A deep vertical crease under the ring finger suggests a risk taker or a gambler.”
He pointed to the fingerprints. “Arch patterns occur five times out of ten, which is significant, since arches are less common than loops and whorls. He’s a skilled craftsman with an eye for details.”
Someone in the audience asked, “Who should the police be looking for?”
“A solitary white collar criminal, maybe someone writing bad checks to support a drug habit.” Crowe turned to Margo. “What can you tell us about this subject?”
“Both parents were alcoholics,” Margo said. “In high school, he forged birth certificates for underage classmates to get into bars and clubs. After developing a cocaine habit, he wrote bum checks to pay for it. Recently arrested and charged with counterfeiting.”
Crowe’s correct interpretation earned a flurry of applause.
A professor spoke up. “That was quite a demonstration. But surely you don’t suggest palmistry will replace traditional profiling?”
“Of course not. It may become just another element in the profiler’s toolkit.”
“But profilers would need training. Will police academies give courses in palmistry?”
“Not such a crazy idea. Palmistry has been practiced for thousands of years and is a well-documented science.”
“Most people would object to calling it a science,” the professor said.
“Times change. Fifty years ago, offender profiling was itself unknown. The FBI enjoyed its first success in 1973. Initially profiling was accused of being too subjective, even mystical.” Crowe paused to let that sink in. “Ultimately the willingness of profilers to study all facets of the unsub – the unknown subject – will include psychological clues from fingerprints and handprints. If we have to borrow interpretations from palmistry until we can build a database of statistical behaviors, so be it.”
“Good grief! What’s next on your agenda – astrology?”
“Don’t write it off. But that’s a subject with even more emotional baggage than palmistry. Let’s stick to the subject at hand – no pun intended.”
The group had several more questions, which Crowe answered with authority, clarity and occasional humor. A faculty member thanked Crowe and Margo for their time and reminded the audience there’d be another pair of lunchtime talks next month, details on the faculty site. Crowe descended from the podium.
Margo gathered her acetates into a briefcase. “That went over pretty well.”
“Thanks for inviting me,” Crowe said. “It’s always nice to speak to the open-minded, even if only because there are so few of them.”