by Kathleen Costa & Connie di Marco
This week we have a review of the latest Zodiac Mystery by Connie di Marco along with a guest post by Connie about the setting and inspiration for the book. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Serpent’s Doom: A Zodiac Mystery by Connie di Marco
Review by Kathleen Costa
An Astral Plan of Action
Julia Bonatti tragically lost her fiancé a couple of years ago, and despite the occasional twinge of her heart and odd comment from a friend, she’s moved on creating an nice life in San Francisco as a skilled astrologer. She has her private clients who meet her at her residence for a reading, and she participates in psychic fairs at The Mystic Eye, an occult bookshop, where, for a small fee, she’ll provide insights guided by a guest’s astrological chart. She also writes a weekly column, Ask Zodia, answering several inquires that often are about love, money, or health. Unfortunately, her identity as Zodia was revealed to the public with deadly consequences, so her editor Jonathan and his assistant Samantha are sensitive to weed out any threatening letters. When life becomes challenging, Julia can always count on her dear grandmother, good friends, colleagues, and a twenty-pound black cat named Wizard.
Serpent’s Doom Earns 5/5 Snake Tattoos…Engaging & Clever!
Snakes. Is there another creature more reviled? Centuries of legends and myths differ as to an answer, but there’s one thing Julia is about to understand…a serpent can appear in human form!
The Mystic Eye’s psychic fair has kept Julia busy offering advice and direction to guests according to their birth charts. One client, Tracy Wyler, is extremely reticent. Julia sees evidence she may be a victim of domestic violence and since the astrological charts show a potential for more violence, she gives her a list of local shelters and suggests she check them out ASAP. Julia is curious about a young Asian boy she saw peering in the window, and when she’s about to leave, he approaches her, “You the astrology lady?” He introduces himself as Frankie Chang and explains he didn’t have enough money for a reading. Julia offers him a discount, but he doesn’t take advantage of her goodwill. The next day Julia gets a call that Frankie has shown up at The Eye looking for her, but she has a private client about to arrive and agrees to meet him later. Jeanette Hicks arrives concerned about her twenty-something son, Billy, who she fears may be entangled in something illegal. His chart indicates a potential to be easily swayed, and Julia warns the danger is real and to be prepared. Later when she meets with Frankie, learning he’s eleven years old, he explains his mother is missing and his father gives obviously evasive answers about where she is, but Frankie refuses to allow Julia to contact the police.
Three desperate clients.
Three dangerous situations.
Three loose ends that may just tie neatly together.
The Stars Are in Your Favor! Connie di Marco has again added a thrilling fourth full-length book to her Zodiac Mystery series creatively twisting together three seemingly unrelated situations with the Bay Bridge, up and down streets of San Francisco, and a Chinese New Year celebration as backdrops. The main mystery is an engrossing tale than unfolds slowing then turns dark with a frightened family, physical threats, abductions, tattoos, and rumors that this is all connected to smuggling. But, what? Julia can’t help but get involved, there’s so much mystery, and her homicide detective friend seems less interested in helping which leads to a dangerous situation at the docks, gun play, and her new friends fleeing for safety. But, when you think it’s over, it’s not. The final reveal is a shocker I truly didn’t see coming. Couldn’t put it down!
San Francisco is a favorite setting, and di Marco does well to describe the urban environment. Her use of astrological charts with specific planets going in and out of the houses and the insights that she gleans and a psychic using psychometry was most entertaining and informative. She also portrayed a realistic dynamic with law enforcement, not entirely circumventing their authority, but including a mutual frustration and begrudging cooperation. I enjoyed the tidbits that revisited Julia’s late fiancé Michael’s work as a PhD candidate, details surrounding his trip to Guatemala, exploring his journal entries, asking some pertinent questions of a trusted colleague, and keeping a dream diary. There wasn’t any closure there, but the intrigue begs for this side story to take center stage. Clever. Entertaining.
The Madness of Mercury (2016)
All Signs Point to Murder (2017)
Tail of the Dragon (2018)
Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (prequel 2021) Reviewed HERE
Serpent’s Doom (2022)
Be a Big Connie di Marco Fan!
Connie di Marco’s fascination with astrological charts led to the creation of her Zodiac Mystery series and her heroine who also carved out a life with the zodiac as her guide. Use these Discussion Guides with your book club. She also writes the Soup Lover’s Mystery under the name Connie Archer. Both series are creative and entertaining.
Setting, Inspiration, & Snakes
by Connie di Marco
I’ve always believed that San Francisco is the best city in the world in which to set a mystery. I know lots of mystery and thriller lovers might not agree. They may swear Los Angeles is the capital of noir. But for me, San Francisco is it: a city with many faces, endlessly changing, sunny and windy one moment, cold and dank the next. It’s a city blessed with secret stairways, dizzying heights, and dark alleys. What better place to set a mystery? And I’m not the only believer; let’s not forget Dashiell Hammett or Charles Willeford or James Patterson or Laurie R. King or John Lescroart. So, I’m not alone in my opinion.
Julia Bonatti, my astrologer protagonist, lives near the western perimeter of the city, close to Lands End, a neighborhood some people call the “Outside Lands.” It’s a neighborhood I know well because I used to live there, and I still miss the fog. It rolls in not on little cat feet, as Carl Sandburg once wrote, but with a vengeance. It comes in great billowing waves, blurring the sharp edges of buildings, softening all sound, and creating an atmosphere of mystery, if not terror. Julia loves her neighborhood. She falls asleep to the bass voices of the foghorns blasting from the Golden Gate Bridge.
When I started working on Serpent’s Doom, well, to tell the truth, I procrastinated and wrote a novella, Enter a Wizard, Stage Left, to answer questions I had received from readers who wanted to know more about Julia’s backstory. Once that was done, I had to get serious and tackle the fourth book in the Zodiac Mysteries.
That’s when it happened. Frankie Chang paid me a visit. I’ve invented all sorts of characters but none of them ever appeared like a holograph out of thin air. He materialized in the doorway of my office. I knew he was eleven years old and a real character with a big problem. I shook my head to dispel the image. What’s happening? Who is this kid? And why is he visiting me? It was unavoidable that Frankie would become the inspiration for Serpent’s Doom. He appears early on in the story at a psychic fair at The Mystic Eye occult bookshop to seek help and he becomes Julia’s youngest client ever. And what better backdrop for this story than the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations? A time of parades, of dancers and musicians, with cymbals and drums and firecrackers marching through the streets in a cacophony of sound.
It’s Frankie’s story that’s at the heart of Serpent’s Doom. I do hope readers will enjoy meeting him and thrill to Julia’s next adventure!
To enter to win an ebook copy of Serpent’s Doom, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “doom” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 14, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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