Two murders, a male and a female, have been linked with the alchemical rituals of a group known as the Companions of Co-Inherence, and if the signs are correct, there are two more to come. But the best suspect, student Nate Hedesan, seems to have an alibi – he was hanging around in an S&M club.
Another suspect, academic Dax Kinnison, could have dumped his wife’s corpse from his boat, which contains blood; and a third, student Sam, is involved with the dead man’s sister Carina.
Kinnison opens up about the Companions, but Lewis and Hathaway get little from it except a sense that something in the group’s past is crucial.
Hathaway questions college scout Carina, having realised that she was in fact an academic, who had a breakdown eight years previously. She confesses that tensions in the Companions are over a disagreement regarding the forgiveness ritual that the two victims went through.
Hathaway’s having problems working with new boss Moody, which is ironic, since it’s Hathaway who’s moody, over his dad’s declining health.
Group member Wouter Eisler confesses that he is enamoured of victim Beskin’s wife Grace, but denies that this could be a motive for Beskin’s murder. Tattooist and group member Fennell confides his fears that he or Carina might be the next to go, and he’s right – it’s him. He’s found stabbed and covered in yellow sulphur, a symbol of the third stage of the alchemical ritual Magnum Opus. But he hadn’t gone through the forgiveness ritual the other two victims had.
Since everything points back to Carina, and she’s linked to a boat connected to one of the murders, it would make sense to press her about what happened eight years previously; the dynamic duo do so, but she seems almost resigned to her fate. Will she be the victim of Rubedo, the fourth stage of the Magnum Opus?
Hathaway seeks out his seminary tutor and discusses his relationship with his father; this gives him the idea to check for conferences eight years previously, and he finds one that brought together the three victims and Carina, all of whom were in a car accident. But nobody was charged over the death of the victim, one Francis Fisher, who was an alchemist – so is a relative of Fisher’s taking revenge?
Carina confesses that she was driving the car and was drunk, and that everyone lied to protect her; the others managed to forgive themselves through their rituals, but she couldn’t.
Nate and Kinnison have an alibi – they were secret lovers – so student Sam is in the frame, particularly when mud on the death boat is matched to his countryside home, and his background contains inconsistencies. He’s tracked down and found with Carina, but did he intend to kill her? He confesses that he is Fisher’s son, and killed the three because they tried to forgive themselves for his father’s death – but he says that he loves Carina. She, though, is horrified by his confession.
Many Lewis plots revolve around bygone events, so the killer is often a younger character who has grown up bitter and has come to Oxford to wreak revenge for some past injustice. It didn’t take much to figure out that this was one of those plots.
Ending with fences mended between Hathaway and his sister, and between Hathaway and Moody, the story seems to have a mixed message – that you should forgive yourself for your past failings, but not too much, or you’ll get killed for it.
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here
For our episode three review, go here