Dr. Theo Cray and FBI agent Jessica Blackwood follow a deadly celestial trail in a thrilling novel by the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Mastermind.
A signal is detected at the outer edge of the solar system. Computational biologist Dr. Theo Cray and magician-turned-FBI-agent Jessica Blackwood are looking—and listening—a little closer.
The man at the center of this cosmic mystery is billionaire Thomas T. Theismann. He’s spent a lifetime—and a fortune—trying to find out if we’re alone in the universe. Highly skeptical, Theo joins the effort to find the source of the signal, and he quickly enlists Jessica to look into the suspicious death of another academic at the lab. As their investigations converge, they uncover curious connections to the otherworldly contact, including a 1970s science-fiction writer and the body of an astronaut found buried in an ancient tomb.
As they delve into Theismann’s history, Theo and Jessica’s fascination with the signal intensifies. How dangerous will the investigation get? That depends on how deep into the unknown Theo and Jessica are prepared to venture.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
The Final Equinox by Andrew Mayne is the second book featuring Jessica Blackwood and Theo Cray. Even though it is the second book in a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. Dr. Theo Cray has been called on to participate in ongoing research into life on other planets. Jessica soon realizes that all is not on the up and up, and Theo’s life may be in danger. Together, they can expose everything that has been going on behind the scenes with space research.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I read the first book in this series and love the combination of a scientist and an FBI agent with a magic background. Both characters are a lot of fun, and the thrills should be endless. I expect a fast-paced, intelligent, witty thriller with a sci-fi angle.
Actual Reading Experience:
My actual reading experience was much as I expected. I still loved the characters and relished their unique voices and backgrounds. The thrills are nonstop, and I particularly loved the story’s cloak and dagger space research angle.
I look at everything with a heaping spoonful of skepticism and the awareness that you never know until you know. And we don’t know much about what’s contained in the vastness of space. It’s hard to believe that in all the 170 billion galaxies in the universe, only this little planet had the right conditions to create and sustain life, so I always keep that in mind.
There is an overriding theme in this novel of perception versus reality, and it can be seen in both cases that Jessica works on as well as the additional odd evidence that pops up in Theo’s case. I find this an incredibly suitable theme for an FBI agent with a magic background and a scientist since both are quick to not believe what they see until all the ways that perception can be toyed with are ruled out.
Jessica Blackwood is one of the main characters. She grew up in a family of magicians and brings the lessons learned from performing magic tricks to each case she is assigned. She is strong, determined, no-nonsense, and has a sharp wit and a sharper tongue.
Dr. Theo Cray is a computational biologist, which is someone who uses computational data to pinpoint the source of biological phenomena in any given environment. At least, that’s how I think it is defined since I and science are barely on friendly terms. He is sharp and sees things in a way that very few others do, making him great in any case.
Narration & Pacing:
I loved the narration. It’s in first person, with some sections being told by Dr. Theo Cray and some sections being described by FBI Agent Jessica Blackwood. Their individual chapters are in very distinctive voices, with Theo’s being more fluid, as he is a natural-born storyteller, and Jessica’s more staccato-like narration similar to what I see in hard-boiled mysteries. They are witty, with Theo being more sarcastic and Jessica having a drier sense of humor.
The pacing is mainly fast, but Theo’s sections could get long-winded as scientific information is explained, which slowed down the pace.
The setting is in a few different places: a top-secret lab in New Mexico, the jungles in Guatemala, and various points around the US. Each was directly about a case at hand, so the focus made the use of each setting very detailed.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you love action adventure thrillers with a sci-fi thread, Book 2 of the Theo Cay and Jessica Blackwood mysteries – The Final Equinox – is just the book for you!
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 (4.63)
- Originality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Pace: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐