Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Madness of Mercury (+ Giveaway)

It’s a pleasure to be a part of author Connie di Marco’s Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for her latest release, THE MADDNESS OF MERCUTY, the first installment in her new Zodiac Mystery series.

The Madness of Mercury

By Connie di Marco
*Traditional Mystery
**1st in Series: Zodiac Mystery
*Publisher: Suspense Publishing (October 8, 2020)
*Paperback: 268 pages
*ISBN-10: 0578752654
*ISBN-13: 978-0578752655
*Digital ASIN: B08K3JT8P1

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice. But when a disastrous Mercury retrograde period hits, her life and practice is turned upside down, along with that of many of her colleagues who practice in the city. San Francisco has fallen under the spell of the Prophet’s Tabernacle, a religious cult that has descended upon the city. Reverend Roy, a Mercury-ruled, silver-tongued preacher offers a message of love and charity to the less fortunate, but Julia soon learns that the Reverend’s charity doesn’t extend to anyone who stands in his way. The Reverend is waging war on sin as he perceives it, targeting psychics, Wiccans, mediums, astrologers, gays, and anyone else he considers an abomination unto the Lord.

Driven from her apartment, Julia seeks shelter with her client and friend, Dorothy. Dorothy has separated from her spouse and is caring for her two elderly aunts at their home on Telegraph Hill. Dorothy’s aunt, Evandra, appears stricken with dementia and her other aunt, Eunice, has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. When Eunice disappears, Julia’s sure that she is headed for Prophet’s Paradise, a supposedly idyllic community north of the city. Julia fears that Eunice is being misled and will be in danger. She determines to rescue Eunice and take on the Army of the Prophet.

Julia learns once more what she already knew –that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods; he was a trickster and a liar as well.


THE MADDNESS OF MERCUTY is available at Amazon.


Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

There are those among us who prey, who hunt under the guise of trust.  They kill not just the physical body, but the psyche, the dream of the soul.  They are the clever ones, the dexterous and silver-tongued.  They sway the weak, the old, the gullible and the infirm.  They are the tricksters of the universe and work through enchantment. 

They are ruled by Mercury, a god of great cunning, a thief and a prowler.  With no place of his own, the ancients ascribed to him rulership over borders, secret passageways, and crossroads where suicides are buried.  He alone escorted souls to the underworld because only he could move freely in the world above and the world below.  In our time, he leads unwary travelers astray to meet their own twisted shadow in the dark night. 

It was a new client whose predicament recalled this mythology to me.  My name is Julia Bonatti – Julia Elizabeth Bonatti -- and I’m an astrologer.  For too long, I had worked with practical daylight interpretations of the natal chart.  For too long, I had happily delineated charts concerned with mundane issues.  What’s the best time to plan our trip?  When should I invest?  I’ve thought of returning to school, can I afford it?  It was Evandra Gamble and her family and the events surrounding them that indelibly marked me, that caused me to know the dark side of the god. 

*                 *                 *
Long fingers gripped my wrist with a surprising strength.  “She’s trying to kill me.”  A network of veins on Evandra’s hand bulged like blue worms burrowing under the dry parchment of her flesh.  Evandra Gamble was the elderly aunt of my longtime client, Dorothy Sanger, the very she to whom Evandra referred. 

I straightened in my chair.  “You can’t mean that.” 

“Hah!”  Evandra replied.  “You think you know her?  My charming niece!  Believe me, you don’t!”  Her face shifted.  Her watery blue eyes held my gaze.  “I am afraid, Julia.”  Her voice quavered.  “Please help me.  That’s why I needed you to come here today for my reading.”  Her grip on my wrist tightened. 

I sighed inwardly.  I’d formed a few rules over the course of my practice.  Number one is that my clients come to me for readings.  For professional reasons, it’s important that I work on my own turf.  If a client is new, or not referred by someone I know well, I might arrange for a private room at the Mystic Eye, an occult shop in North Beach owned by my friend Gale. 

Today, I was breaking that rule.  Evandra was on the verge of turning ninety and had suffered a fractured hip.  She was on the mend, but mobility was still difficult.  Dorothy had asked me to visit the rambling house on Telegraph Hill for her aunt’s sake.  I complied, imagining my new client’s questions would fall in the category of health or decisions over her final wishes.  I certainly never expected Evandra to accuse her own flesh and blood of murder. 

“Dorothy’s devoted to you.  She’s taken a leave from nursing to stay here with you.  Why do you say that?”  I replied with disbelief. 

Evandra’s eyes shifted and grew wary, her expression closed.  She sniffed.  “I hoped that you of all people would listen and believe me.”  She released my hand.  Her arm was frail, as if muscle had separated from bone.  Her thin shoulders and collarbone looked as light and hollow as a bird’s.  She slumped back against the flowered cushions on the large armchair and closed her eyes. 

Evandra’s natal Sun and Mercury were under the sway of a Neptune transit.  I knew she’d be physically depleted, her normal energy sapped.  For an elderly woman recovering from a fracture, I was concerned.  Neptune’s effect on her Mercury, the planet related to mental acuity, could cause confusion, perhaps even delusions.  Was the Neptune transit signaling the start of some form of elder senility?  I just wasn’t certain. 

“Please believe me, Evandra.  Your thinking is affected during this time.” 

“You mean you think I’m losing it, don’t you?”  She glanced at me sharply. 

“No.  I don’t think that.  But anyone, at any age, would be affected.  Please, please reserve judgment, especially of Dorothy, until this time period is over?”  I watched her carefully, not sure how to put my fears into words.  “There is another thing I should mention.  Illnesses can be extremely difficult to diagnose under this planet’s transit.”  I didn’t want to frighten her, but I had to be as honest as possible.  “One worry is that you could have an adverse reaction to medication.” 

She pursed her lips and continued to stare at me, an expression I was sure was designed to engender guilt.  My answer hadn’t satisfied her.  I mentally reviewed my work on her chart.  Had I missed anything?  Was it my own insecurity? Or was I just being guilted? 

“I’ll tell you what.  I’ll have a further look and check your lunar returns for the next couple of months.  The lunar return chart describes the current month, based on the Moon’s return to its natal position, and I’ll see if there’s a period of time during this transit that’s more threatening.” 

“My niece is your client.  You have her chart, don’t you?” 

“Yes.  Of course.” 

“Have a look at that too.  Please.  Before it’s too late.” 

I couldn’t respond.  The thought that Dorothy would ever harm her aunt was outrageous and unthinkable.  The woman I knew was a highly regarded and experienced nurse.  She had devoted her life to taking care of people.  And now she had put her work on hold to care for her aunts -- Evandra and her younger sister, Eunice. 

Evandra sat forward in her seat.  “I need Luis.  Can you fetch him, dear?  Just pull that tassel over there.”  She pointed to a length of cord near the canopy bed that undoubtedly connected to a series of bells below. 

I rose and passed by the window.  Luis was below in the garden, trimming a hedge.  He was the sisters’ valet, gardener, chauffeur and all around gofer.  A short man, thickly built, with graying hair, he maintained a gentle and long-suffering demeanor as he was called upon often for any number of odd jobs. 

“Damn and blast this hip.”  Evandra fidgeted in her chair.  “I hate being so helpless.”

I pushed open the casement window and waved to Luis.  He nodded and wiped his brow with a red bandanna, holding up a calloused finger to indicate he’d be upstairs in a moment. 

“Old age is not for sissies, Julia.”  She grimaced in pain.  “Why, when I was young, I could party, as they say, with the best of them.” 

Luis arrived a few moments later and knocked.  I hurried to the door and opened it.

“There you are, Luis.”  Evandra raised her arms.  “Help me to the bed.”  He lifted Evandra’s slender form with ease and deposited her gently on the large bed, then covered her with a crocheted quilt.  Her complexion had grown pale. 

“I’ll be working on the back lawn, Miss.  But you pull the cord if you need help.  Miss Dorothy can call me. 

“Thank you, Luis.  Please tell that niece of mine to stop baking and do something useful around here.  For all we know, she’s slipping arsenic into those blasted cookies she’s always making.” 

“I will tell her, Miss.”  Luis smiled and winked at me as he shut the door behind him. 

Evandra leaned her head back and pulled the quilt up to cover her arms.  “I have to rest now, dear.  Will you come see me again?” 

“I’ll stop by again, if you like.  Perhaps tomorrow.” 

“Thank you.”  She sighed heavily and closed her eyes. 

I had been dismissed.  I gathered up my notes and charts and stepped softly across the heavily draped bedroom and pulled the solid oak door shut behind me. 

Meet the Author


Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti.  The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series was re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime.  You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.  Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

For more on Connie and her writing, you can connect with her on the following sites”

Facebook: (Connie di Marco Author)


Thanks for stopping by today. You can learn more about Connie and her new book by visiting the following bloggers. Be sure to enter the giveaway below. If the Rafflecopter widget doesn’t work, you can still enter by clicking HERE.

Do you follow the zodiac signs? Isn’t it fun getting a glimpse inside a story through an excerpt?



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  1. I appreciate getting to hear about another book I didn't know about until now. Thank you for sharing and for this giveaway also.

    1. Hi again, James. So glad you could stop by today! Happy reading!

  2. Oh my. My heart was in my mouth just reading the excerpt - and aching with and for the characters.
    Thank you both.

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the excerpt! Julia's first adventure is pretty exciting, if I do say so myself! Best of luck!

  3. What's sad is there are real people who are that twisted and prey on others.

    1. So true, Alex. Sadly, the world is full of them. Let's hope many more on the side of good!

  4. That's an interesting combination - astrology and murder. And it sounds as though the characters have some solid depth, too. Thanks for sharing, Mason.

    1. Hi Margot ~ I think there may be one or two other mystery authors with astrologers. Julia isn't totally unique, but I really wanted my protagonist to have an unusual occupation, one that would put her in touch with lots of different people. Happy reading!

  5. Astrology is a fascinating subject, looking forward to reading the book.

    1. Hi Dianne ~ great to see you here! Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck!

  6. I don't follow the zodiac signs, although I know I'm a Sagittarius. My question is what kind of research did it take to know all this astrology things?
    And yes, it is interesting reading excerpts, often pulling me so into the story that I must read the book.

    1. Hi Donna ~ I first became interested in astrology when I was still in school. I met an astrologer at the time of a death in the family and she was very helpful. After that, I just had to learn more. So even though I don't call myself a professional, I guess I'm a knowledgeable amateur. By the way, Julia, my protagonist, is also a Sagittarian. You might enjoy her company!

  7. Thanks so much for hosting The Madness of Mercury today!

  8. I like the plot. Sounds like a good series to follow.

    1. Hi Denise ~ Thank you! Book 2 in the Zodiac Mysteries is coming out soon on December 1st. Happy reading!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.