This chapter finds astrologer Axel Crowe in New York, where his vaastu consultation for a wealthy women’s-wear designer is interrupted by a frantic call. The sister of his longstanding client Kevin Blaikie has been murdered in an apparent street mugging gone sideways. Crowe goes to the billionaire’s Central Park condo to consider the case.


Crowe took out his phone. He didn’t need to create a horary chart, since the disposition of the planets was still pictured in his mind from when he’d studied them in Soho an hour ago. He was now more interested in Janis Stockwell’s natal chart.

Blaikie knew his sister’s birth date and place – November 20th, 1971, in New York– but didn’t know her time of birth, which Crowe needed to determine her ascendant. He considered his options. In lieu of a birth time, he sometimes used the current time of day. Other occasions, different techniques…

Out in Central Park, the blue kite wheeled high in the air. Blue was the color of Venus. Libra was an air sign ruled by Venus. On the wall behind Blaikie was an Ernst lithograph, Portrait Bleu, featuring a bird-like figure. More corroboration. Perhaps Janis Stockwell had a Libra ascendant.

“With their mugging theory, I’m concerned whether the police will develop any alternative leads.” Blaikie picked up a decanter and added Scotch to his coffee.

“It’s a little early to play armchair detective. Give them a chance to work with what they’ve got. In the meantime, if you want to be present for your parents, go easy on the booze…”

Blaikie nodded and put the coffee cup down. “You’re right, I’m not thinking clearly.” He rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’ve got to get my act together, not fall to pieces. I know how my father will react. He’ll pull his head into his turtle shell and go numb. He won’t be much help to my mother. And her health is already fragile. If they don’t catch whoever did this, she’ll go off the deep end.”

Crowe studied Janis Stockwell’s chart. It was unusual in that five planets occupied her second house. With all of the benefic planets there, it was a signature of family prestige and wealth. But two of those planets were less than a degree apart, what Vedic astrologers called a planetary war. It implied an irritant – a person or a situation – that made life hell for the individual. Crowe suspected it had something to do with an unhappy sex life but he wasn’t about to tell her brother that.

Coincidentally, aside from Janis Stockwell’s chart, at this moment another planetary war was being waged between two different planets. This wasn’t the first time Crowe had noted a synchronicity of circumstances. He recalled a weekend several years ago in Chicago where he’d given readings for several clients. A solar eclipse had been visible across the northern USA that weekend. Amazingly, out of a dozen clients whose birthdays spanned thirty years, seven had been born within days of an eclipse. What were the odds?

Guruji had told him many years ago: It will never make sense to someone who hasn’t embraced this life we lead but, once you really start to work with the planets, they start to work with you. Make friends with them and they will be your companions for life. When you are lost they will show you the way, and when you are in despair they will give you hope. Astrology is a language and once you learn this language, the planets will speak to you.

Crowe stared at Janis Stockwell’s birth chart. In his mind’s eye, he superimposed the current planetary positions, what astrologers called transits, upon the natal chart. Today’s planetary war involved Venus and Mars, rulers of Janis Stockwell’s first and seventh houses. This implied a war between husband and wife. The two planets were in Janis’s sixth house ruling competitors. This often spelled legal proceedings as a prelude to divorce, but under aggravated circumstances, warfare could take more extreme form.

“Did your sister have a solid marriage?”

“She seemed happy.”

“How about her husband?”

“What about him?”

“He’s been going through a difficult time?”

Blaikie shrugged. “Hard to know. We put on a face for the public but inside we could be suffering. Why do you ask? What’s Jeb got to do with this?”

In Janis’s chart, Jeb was represented by Mars in an antagonistic relationship with its natural enemy Saturn. Mars indicated violence, while Saturn reflected suppression. Crowe had seen instances of this in marriage where the spouse was abusive. But abuse could be imaginative and take many forms…


If you’ve already read Scorpio Rising, please consider writing a review on Goodreads or the vendor site where you bought it. Now you can purchase #2 in the series, Felonious Monk, at AmazonAppleBarnes&NobleFlipkartKobo or Smashwords.