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Zodiac Mystery #1

The Madness of Mercury

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San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti's life is turned upside down when she becomes the target of the city's newest cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet's Tabernacle. Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who's caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. Is the young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia's not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn't merely the messenger of the gods—he was a trickster and a liar as well.

312 pages, Paperback

First published June 8, 2016

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Connie di Marco

5 books481 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 150 reviews
Profile Image for "Avonna.
1,148 reviews312 followers
December 27, 2020
Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com

THE MADNESS OF MERCURY (A Zodiac Mystery Book #1) by Connie di Marco is the first book in a new series with a female astrologist as the amateur sleuth by a new to me author.

Julia Bonatti is a successful astrologist in San Francisco. She accepts individual clients and answers letters anomalously as Ask Zodia in a San Francisco newspaper column. With an answer to a letter in her column, Julia suddenly becomes the target of a new cult leader Reverend Roy and his followers in the Prophet’s Tabernacle.

With Mercury in retrograde, Julia is chased from her apartment by protestors. The Reverend has the elite and government officials of the city in his thrall and is terrorizing all those who do not agree with his preaching. Julia moves in with a friend and client, Dorothy and her affluent elderly aunts. The gardener dies mysteriously in a fall on the property, one aunt believes Dorothy is trying to kill her and is showing signs of dementia, while the other aunt disappears to join the Reverend Roy’s followers in their secluded compound. Add a controlling ex trying to get Dorothy back and a long-lost relative showing up out of the blue, the charts do not look good for any of them.

Julia knows Mercury was a trickster and a liar. Will she be able to find the truth before anyone else dies?

I enjoyed this new mystery. Julia is a very likable amateur sleuth and the astrology is an interesting twist, even though I enjoy it as an entertainment and not as a way to live my life. I felt some of the astrology terminology was more than the average reader would care to know and it took me out of the story occasionally while reading. The secondary characters were fully-fleshed and I am looking forward to following them in future books in the series. The descriptions of San Francisco made me feel as though I was there. The plot had interesting twists and red-herrings and I was surprised at the ending, which I always consider a plus.

I can recommend this first book in the series and am looking forward to more mysteries with Julia.
Profile Image for Natalie  all_books_great_and_small .
2,103 reviews74 followers
December 13, 2020
I received an copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via the publishers.

The Madness of Mercury is a gripping Zodiac mystery and is book 1 in the series.
Julia Bonatti has become a target o0f Reverend Roy who is a cult preacher who wants to drive sin out of San Francisco and he views Julia and her newspaper column AskZodia as being top of the list sinners he wants to get rid of.
Julia ends up staying with a client who cares for two of her aunts and then a long lost nephew arrives and things take an even more sinister turn.

I found this book captivating and loved the link to the Zodiac. I am an astrology fan and enjoyed the references and jargon used within this book. The main character Julia is an easily likeable character who I can't wait to read more about in this series and the other characters were well thought up and developed within the story itself and gave it depth. I couldn't put this book down.
The copy I received was the newer cover version and I much prefer the new cover to the one shown on this review post.
Profile Image for Lisa.
750 reviews134 followers
March 10, 2017
Not bad, but not enough kitties. Yes, that's right. I am a 40-ish year old woman who likes to read mysteries heavily featuring felines. What of it. 3 stars.
Profile Image for Carmel (Rabid Reads).
706 reviews381 followers
June 6, 2016
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads.

I decided that 2016 was going to be the year I gave Cozy Mysteries a chance, and THE MADNESS OF MERCURY was my first selection. I wish I could say that this book sold me on the genre except it did anything but. Now, as a total noob, I obviously have a thing or two to learn about this style of story telling, so some of my misgivings can probably be chalked up to sheer inexperience. That being said, I found that this novel was rife with inconsistencies, and that the puzzle required very little actual solving.

As an avid Speculative Fiction reader, I have no problem buying into vampires and werewolves, but for some reason I struggled to understand a character who turned to astrology for every important decision. For one, I found that the discipline was explored in too much detail, and yet not enough. Connie Di Marco made constant references to “charts” and “houses” however, she never really explained the fundamentals of how it all worked or what it all meant, so that aspect went completely over my head.

Another thing that bothered me were the blatant contradictions. The police came off as complete tools refusing to acknowledge fire bombing, threats or kidnapping as dangers to public safety because for some vague reason they were instructed to leave the Prophet’s Tabernacle alone. Julia strongly believes in her unconventional profession, but discounts a client’s request for a séance as silly, and balks at the possibility of ghosts being real. I mean… pot meet kettle?

The mystery was also pretty uninspired. Other than an initial unexplained death, I had a difficult time understanding where the author was going with her plot. The events were loosely connected at best, and some of them were completely unnecessary such as the arrival of the Gambles’ long lost nephew from Australia. I didn’t care for the protagonist either; she made some pretty derogatory jokes at certain points, and her overall attitude was like nails on a chalkboard.

THE MADNESS OF MERCURY was a complete waste of an afternoon.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,345 reviews188 followers
March 21, 2016
When Julia, newspaper astrologer, implies in her column that a church might be swindling an old woman out of her home she becomes the latest target for their vitriol. As the church's attacks increase in ferocity, San Francisco's police turn a blind eye. But Julia isn't one to go quietly into the night and she decides to fight back.

Then an older woman, the aunt of her closest friend becomes entangled in the church, and Julia discovers just how far the church will go to protect their secrets.

I quite like a good cozy mystery, and truthfully I requested it from Netgalley based entirely on the cover. After reading a few pages, I was thinking to myself that perhaps this was going to be a miss for me. I'm a hippie at heart, but I don't believe in astrology - I don't believe the stars guide us, any more than I believe tea leaves or coffee grounds can predict the future.

But you know what? It doesn't matter. Astrology is a part of the story, but this book is about much more than that. I can't help but be reminded of the way some in the christian right bully and intimidate health care providers at organisations like Planned Parenthood. So a good cozy mystery that is made great because the author isn't afraid to knock over a few sacred cows.

Many thanks to Midnight Ink and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC
Profile Image for Yvonne.
1,103 reviews245 followers
June 2, 2016
I love the idea of an astrologer as an amateur sleuth. A mix of astrology and cozy mystery…makes for a very exciting story.

Julia’s character is strong and doesn’t easily give up. She handles everything that’s thrown at her…both literally and figuratively. When a religious group puts a target on her back, she doesn’t back down from a fight. She plans her strategy to put a stop to it. She never thought astrology readings and writing an advice column based on those readings could be so dangerous. She definitely didn't think the people surrounding her would be in danger either.

She moves in with a client who has a huge mansion, which reminds me very much of a gothic mystery type house. It’s filled with eccentric characters and, they soon learn, maybe a killer? To add to the mystery, a man claiming to be a long lost relative shows up on their doorstep and takes up residency there as well. Strange things start happening and Julia is determined to get to the bottom of things – starting with the religious group that is trying to put an end to her livelihood.

This book is a very good kick off to this new series. We are introduced to Julia and her friends. I would have liked to get a better feel for Julia and her friendships, but I’m sure that will come in time. The cast of characters is diverse and well developed, especially the Gamble family. What an unusual group of people they are and poor Julia to have to live with them until things settle down.

It’s a unique idea for a cozy mystery. There wasn’t the usual romance thrown in, it is a pure mystery and I enjoyed following Julia's investigation very much. I did think she took too many risks to help clients, but that shows you something about Julia.

I’ll definitely be looking for book #2. On a side note - Isn't that cover gorgeous? The cat looks like my handsome late Socrates.

FTC Disclosure: The publisher and NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for April Schilling.
182 reviews17 followers
March 18, 2016
I really enjoyed this book! This is the first of the Zodiac mystery series by Connie Di Marco. Julia Bonatti is an astrologer in San Francisco who not only does chart readings for clients, she also does a column in the local newspaper under a different name. When her life is turned upside down by becoming the target of the city's newest cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet's Tabernacle, she is forced to move from her apartment. Her friend and client, Dorothy, invites her to stay till things calm down. Dorothy is taking care of her two elderly aunts, one who is a new client of Julia's and one who is enamored with the teachings of the Reverend Roy. To add to all of the chaos, a young man claiming to be a nephew of the aunts has come to town. Why is he here? Is this more Mercury in Retrograde problems? Can astrology help Julia figure out what's going on before something really bad happens?

Like I said, I really enjoyed and liked this book! I had a bit of trouble with some of the astrology terms and the like but, it didn't detract from the story at all. Julia is a very likable character as are her friends, Gale, Crystal and Kuan. I am really looking forward to the next book of the series!

I was given an advanced reader copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bea .
1,978 reviews137 followers
June 7, 2016
3.5 stars enjoyable and interesting

I like when cozy mysteries have unusual settings or unusual careers for the lead character and "The Madness of Mercury" certainly fit that bill. Set in San Francisco, a large city instead of a small town, and with a heroine who is a professional astrologer, the story was off to a strong start with just those two elements.

di Marco gives us a strong sense of place, taking us beyond the tourist surface of San Francisco and using nearby locales to her advantage. di Marco has a knack for setting the scene and does so succinctly. Her characters are almost as strong. The leads, Julia, Don, Cheryl, were so well done that I could forget they weren't real. The secondary characters weren't quite that strong but were still strong and believable.

Julia, though new to detecting, handled herself well and her involvement was believable. There were a few incidences near the beginning where I questioned the likelihood of events occurring but patience paid off and everything came together in a believable fashion. Julia used her brain to figure things, she didn't rely on chance and while she made some mistakes, they were believable and she didn't come across as a too-stupid-to-live heroine. She was caring, compassionate, sometimes impulsive, smart, but never too perfect. There's a scene where she goes after some people harassing her that had me going "No way!" even as I also laughed. It was rash, a little bit mean, and yet it felt utterly right in context. She was understandably frustrated, frightened, and angry.

The story itself had twists and turns and kept me guessing and di Marco managed to avoid the obvious. She neatly twisted several of my expectations. I considered and dismissed the person ultimately revealed as the killer but the clues are there if you look back. The topic of astrology was confusing at times, and I still don't believe in it, but it was interesting and it was a new way of looking at events and clues. "The Madness of Mercury" is a good start to a series that promises to be well-written and engaging. I was so involved in reading the story that I forgot to take any notes for the review! :D
246 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2017
Astrologer Julia Bonatti is doing well with her customers and with writing a column for a San Francisco newspaper. But one day things turn upside down when the followers of the Reverend Roy, of the Prophet's Tabernacle, start to picket in front of her house, and at the shop of a friend.

The events drive her from her home, and she stays for a while with a friend, Dorothy, who is caring for two elderly aunts, one who has fallen under the spell of Reverend Roy, and one who wants to contact a long dead relative through a seance. Then, a groundskeeper turns up dead. To add to things, a young man shows up claiming to be the son of a second long-lost relative.

Can Julia use astrology to figure out what is happening, or will things continue to tumble downhill?

This book rates five stars from me. I love the characters and the setting. The flow of the story is perfect, as are Ms. DiMarco's descriptions. While reading it I could imagine myself in San Francisco, watching the action as if I were in the room.

When I first read the plot, about a cult leader, I wondered if it would be like several other books I had read that contained that same plot, but this one was totally different. The addition of the two elderly aunts help with that, I think, and I hope they make appearances in future books.

I anxiously await the next book in this series, and think The Madness of Mercury will be one I reread.
Profile Image for Jypsy .
1,524 reviews60 followers
December 8, 2020
Thank you PICT for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Madness Of Mercury
The Zodiac Mysteries #1
By: Connie di Marco


When it comes to the Zodiac, my knowledge is scant at best. Despite this, The Madness Of Mercury, first of Connie di Marco's Zodiac Mysteries series, was immediately appealing to me based on the back cover blurb and striking cover art.

The heroine, Julia Bonatti, is a San Francisco based astrologer and newspaper columnist. Recently, Julia has been troubled by Reverend Roy, an enigmatic, charismatic and conniving false prophet, who, in the most puzzling way, has a fanatical cult following, The Army Of The Prophet. Because of Julia's astrological based newspaper column, the Reverend calls her a tool of the devil. This leads to dangerous situations for Julia, and living alone in her apartment no longer seems safe.

Julia ends up living with a client, Dorothy, and her two elderly aunts. Unfortunately, one aunt is enraptured with Reverend Roy. Julia is, however, not the only person in the astrology community affected by the cult's behavior. Most lose business and money. The situation keeps deteriorating, but Julia is determined to find out how and why Reverend Roy has such a strong following, including political figures and others in positions of power.

While I found this story intriguing and compelling, I was lost in all of the astrological terminology a layperson just doesn't know. I think this story would benefit from less of this or explaining with common language. The pace was a little slow for me, but I'm a speed reader.

Julia was an easy to like character. I found her personable, intelligent and sassy. The secondary characters were well developed as well, creating an excellent overall cast. I enjoyed this story and have a favorable impression of it. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Amary Chapman.
1,370 reviews8 followers
June 7, 2016
First in a new series from a talented author.
Julia is an astrologer in San Francisco with a devoted following and a newspaper column. Doing readings and advising her clients, her life is turned upside down when she is targeted by Reverend Roy of the Prophet's Tabernacle.
Suspicious relatives of a client, an unexpected death, arson and harassment all have Julia searching for answers. Is it all about Evandra and Eunice's money? Is there really a ghost? A long lost relation appears....or not...who is he really? It certainly looks like more than a few people are counting on getting their hands on it. I don't know much about astology, but I enjoyed the story and look forward to the next in the series.
I didn't know much about astrology or tarot, but have a little clearer picture on the fortune telling aspect of tarot. I was lucky enough to win a chance to read an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
It's well written with easy to visualize descriptions. Don't miss it!
Profile Image for Betty.
2,006 reviews52 followers
June 8, 2016
Make sure you have plenty of time to read before you start this book as you won't want to put down. It is set with a background of Astrology and has a slight touch of paranormal. The Reverend Roy has unleashed his followers of The Amy of GOD against all things he deems evil. The police can do little to protect individuals targeted by him. He has aimed his army against, Julia Bonatti because she wrote in her Zodiac column that he is a charlatan. He deems her witch and harasses her that she and black cat move into a client's home. There are two elderly women in the household. One claims her niece wants to kill her, The other is influenced by the Reverend. Julia must move quickly if she and her cat are able to survive the attack. I recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy from Midnight Ink through NetGalley for an honest review. I would like to thank them for this opportunity to read and review the book. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews.
2,361 reviews118 followers
May 27, 2016
I really enjoyed this book and when the killer was revealed I could not have been more surprised!

I've always been curious about astrology and what all it means when Mercury or Neptune are in your house, and while you won't learn exactly what all of that means, there is a lot of discussion about charts based on your birthday and birth place. I've had a chart done in the past but it has been awhile so this has me curious about what the stars say for me.

I did guess a few things but wasn't sure exactly how they tied in to the whole story until the end. And of course my suspect was someone else entirely.

I also liked how they had to deal with a "cult" where the leader had many people in power snowed and thinking he was a good guy when he really wasn't and what it took to uncover his deception.
Profile Image for Karen.
654 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2017
This book is a promising start in a new series. A glossary of terms in astrology may be a help to the uninitiated as astrological references are heavily mentioned, but necessary to the premise.
The characters were interesting and the solution at the end was one I did not see coming.
All in all, I recommend this book, and look forward to reading the next in the series.
Profile Image for Kristina.
3,437 reviews59 followers
June 9, 2016
The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco is the first book in A Zodiac Mystery series. Julia Bonatti is an astrologer living and working in San Francisco, California. Julia has private clients and also does the Ask Zodia column for the local newspaper. Dorothy Sanger is a current client who has Julia to come over to her aunt’s home, Gamble House. Dorothy has recently separated from her husband, Richard (but is hoping her chart has news that they will get back together). Evandra Gamble is eight-nine years old and has begun having issues lately (and wants a reading). Evandra now fears for her life (that someone is trying to harm her). After visiting with Evandra (and trying to soothe her fears), Julia is in the kitchen when she notices that Luis, the jack-of-all trades, has disappeared. The lawn mower is still there and running. Dorothy and Julia run out and find Luis has fallen over the wall (there is a big drop). Luis did not make it. Julia is checking her work email when she receives three odd emails. There are religious in nature. Then she gets calls on her home phone line. Then people with signs (Witch Burn Witch) show up outside her apartment complex which upsets a new client. Julia arranges to meet the client at the Mystic Eye owned by her friend, Gale. Unfortunately, the protestors are also at Mystic Eye. The group is against the occult, and they are not going away quietly. The group calls themselves Army of the Prophet and are guided by Reverend Roy. Reverend Roy is new to town, but he has quickly inserted himself into local politics (meaning the police are no help). It is not a good week for Julia and her friends. Someone then starts a fire at the Mystic Eye and Julia is attached by a man with a knife (I think Julia should have checked her own chart for this week). Julia has to leave (move somewhere else) her apartment (because of the protestors) and ends up staying with Dorothy (who is having issues of her own). Dorothy needs help with her aunt’s. Evandra’s mental faculties seem to be declining and then a young man shows up claiming to be a long lost relative named Reggie (there is a trust—always comes down to money). Julia believes something fishy is going on at Gamble House. Will she be able to get to the bottom of the problem? What is she going to do about Reverend Roy and his followers? The planets are definitely not aligned for Julia.

The Madness of Mercury was a delight to read. I enjoyed the characters (we did not get a lot of information on them, but it is the first book). I did not understand the astrology stuff (planets in retrograde, alignments, etc.), but that did not hinder my reading pleasure. The Madness of Mercury is well-written and engaging. I started reading the book and kept going until the end (the book had a good pace). The mystery was the best part of the book. It was complicated and twisty with a delightful curve ball at the end (I loved it). I liked the unique method of the murderer used by the killer. I give The Madness of Mercury 4.5 out of 5 stars (I downgraded a little because I did not understand the astrology information). I look forward to reading the next book in A Zodiac Mystery series.

I received a complimentary copy of The Madness of Mercury from NetGalley and Midnight Ink in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.
Profile Image for Lisa Currier.
1,713 reviews48 followers
January 29, 2016
When I saw the cover of this book I was very intrigue. The colors are vibrant and the cat is adorable. This author is new to me and I was excited to lose myself in the story. I was not disappointed. Julia Bonatti is an astrologer who also writes for the local newspaper. One of her clients is in need of Julia's assistance. As the caregiver of two elderly aunts, Darlene has her hands full and when one aunt begins to exhibit signs of dementia, Julia is asked to read the charts and see if astrology can help find the answers. In the midst of trying to help her client, Julia herself is being attacked by Reverend Roy of the Prophet's Tabernacle. They are trying to rid San Francisco of all the "demons" and Julia and her friends are fighting to save their businesses. When Julia is run out of her apartment, she takes up residence with Darlene and her aunts and things spin wildly out of control.
I was riveted by the story and enjoyed this book from cover to cover. The only problem I had was the detailed astrology information. It did leave me a bit confused, however, I was able to read through those parts and finally get a better understanding about astrology.

This was a great book and the author's fast paced writing style made the story very believable.

I look forward to reading more by this author. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Barb.
248 reviews10 followers
April 16, 2016
San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti meets harassment in the form of an evangelist and his “army.” The cult leader seems to be targeting all the locals who have connections with the occult arts, while the police and the politicos seem to be in his back pocket. The harassment keeps ramping up, including a firebombing, broken windows, spray painting and other vandalism.
Julia’s newest client is an elderly woman who appears to be having episodes of dementia. Of course, the client lives in an old mansion worthy of Mary Roberts Reinhart. Add to that the mysterious death of the woman’s gardener and the unexpected appearance of a heretofore unknown relative (and possible heir) and you have the elements of a dandy mystery, ala Agatha Christie.
Ms. Di Marco maintains a deliciously agonizing level of suspense throughout the story, which kept me engaged and reading. Her prose is descriptive without being wordy, and both the setting and the characters are clearly defined and fully fleshed-out. A thorough knowledge of Astrology is evident in the explanations of the planets and their influences.
This is the first in the Zodiac Mystery Series by Connie di Marco who, writing as Connie Archer, has also created the Soup Lovers Mystery Series. But this series is darker and more suspenseful. I loved it!
I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica Robbins.
2,593 reviews40 followers
October 25, 2020
Book one in the Zodiac Mystery series. Meet Julia Bonatti an astrologist from San Francisco who meets clients in her own apartment and owns a really awesome cat that seems to be quite the character. While this may not sound like a risky or glamorous career you may change your mind after reading about Julia's experiences when she is targeted by what is essentially one of those strange religious cults that wants you to sign over all of you worldly goods and only believe what they tell you to. I admit that this was a different type of investigation than I am used to when it comes to books like this. Instead of a murder with a list or one main suspect we get one event after another that is done by the religious mob that she has to look into. The need to figure out what is going on with this group escalates when a sister of one of her clients joins the group putting herself in danger. The astrology aspect gives a nice fantasy spin to the series though at times the explanations of her readings confused me no matter how hard the author tried to simplify things for the reader. Despite that it is still a really good story that I found myself wrapped up in until I reached the last page. I highly recommend this book to fans of cozy mysteries that have a touch of fantasy, suspense, and an intriguing new way to tell a good tale. I really liked it so it gets 4/5 stars.
Profile Image for AngryGreyCat.
1,503 reviews36 followers
February 19, 2017
The Madness of Mercury is the first in the A Zodiac Mystery series by Connie di Marco, who also writes the Soup Lovers Mysteries as Connie Archer. This series is set in San Francisco, with the protagonist, Julia Bonatti, being an astrologer, who is targeted by a religious cult leader at the same time she is being asked for help by an elderly client in fear of her caretaker.

The plot unfolds as Julia deals with the cult disrupting her life and business and the businesses of other occult shop owners and business people in the community. Julia is also trying to ease the mind of Evandra, who feels she is in danger due to the terms of a trust and will. Julia uses her star charts and investigative skills to follow up on all the threats and uncover what is really happening. Who is the charismatic cult leader and what does he really want? Is Evandra really in danger? If so, from who? Should Dorothy let Richard back in her life?

Great start to a cozy series! I look forward to reading the next one. Just one note, it would be helpful to have an appendix explaining the horoscope system and terms.
November 30, 2017
Julia is an Astrologer who has private clients and also works for a newspaper answering astrological questions, she is stunned when she starts to receive vicious emails and phone calls, her apartment is targeted (leading to possible eviction!) and she finds out that others in the alternative therapy sector are being got at as well, she tries staying at her Gran's house (whilst she is away) only to discover that the boiler needs replacing which means no heat and no cooking facilities! So she ends up going to stays at one of her private clients houses - but the night she arrives one of the elderly sisters up and leaves to join the very group that has been making her life a misery.  Julia needs to work with Mercury to help the two sisters and get her own life back.
Profile Image for Janet.
2,162 reviews25 followers
February 9, 2016
I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unique cozy mystery with an astrology theme. I'll admit there were times when I was genuinely perplexed by all the astrology lingo, but I certainly enjoyed this immensely nonetheless. I could definitely relate to Julia's love of coffee. This is a solid, fun read and I'm curious to see what awaits Julia next. This is worth checking out if you're a cozy mystery fan.
Profile Image for Loralei.
14 reviews2 followers
October 8, 2017
Everyone needs to know a Glady's with a shotgun in life.
32 reviews
March 21, 2016
After overcoming a personal tragedy, Julia Bonatti's life is starting to move in a positive direction. She is now works as a personal astrology. In order to supplement her income, she is also a local newspaper columnist, Ask Zodia. Everything seems to be going well until a client tells Julia her life is in danger.

Evandra Gamble, Julia's elderly client, confides in her that someone is trying to cause her harm. Since Evandra has been recently showing signs of dementia, Julia is hesitant to believe her. But when she consult's Evandra's astrological charts, Julia seems that there is something sinister. It doesn't help that the Gamble household is in turmoil: a long lost nephew has shown up, Evandra's overly stressed niece and her ex husband are on site trying to reconcile, Evandra's sister Eunice has become obsessed with a religious zealot who has moved to the area and her daytime caregiver is acting suspiciously. Could one of them be trying to harm Evandra? Or has Evandra lost her mind? Julia doesn't know, but the astrological charts point to danger.

When a body is found on the Gamble property, Julia realizes that Evandra may not be safe. To make matters worse, the religious leader and his followers are now targeting Julia and her friends in the community. The police are more of a hindrance than help. Julia decides to help Evandra, find out if a murder occurred and save her career before everything falls apart.

Julia is a great character, she's stubborn but loyal to a fault! She is willing to do anything, including putting her life in danger to by fighting fires, taking on fanatics with a water hose, escaping bad situations and doing last minute Christmas shopping! The astrological information located throughout the novel is fun! I enjoyed the first book in this series and I look forward to the next book in this series!!

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review!
Profile Image for Witchy.
48 reviews
June 26, 2017
I've always had a love affair with suspense "and" mystery novels. Connie Di Marco has combined my favorite genres into one read.

While visiting a client, Julia Bonatti makes a deadly discovery. Soon after, this San Franciscan astrologer becomes the target of a religious cult. Its members will stop at nothing (using any means necessary) to ensure that Julia's homeless, jobless, or six feet under. They prefer the latter!

The Madness of Mercury is Connie Di Marco's first book from her brand new Zodiac Mystery series. It's a modern day witch hunt full of deadly deceptions, a character I've affectionately named "Shotgun Granny," and grand theft auto.

I enjoyed wondering who was friend or foe. The story includes duplicitous friends, but also a few kind strangers. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I love the author's use of suspense in her mystery. Case in point was when the main character is driving on a highway and things go horribly wrong. That scene was unexpected and phenomenal! I felt the fear and the desperation as if it were happening to me. Other elements which added to my enjoyment were the seance and the legend of the family ghost.

After reading book two in the series, I wasn't able to guess the culprit. I chose the wrong character! Did I have better luck with book one? Not really! My antagonist was the wrong gender! Maybe third time's the charm. I'm crossing fingers, eyes, and toes they'll be a third installment because the series is a fun mystery ride full of suspense.

You'll like this story if: you like murder mysteries, suspense-filled stories, female sleuths, or supernatural elements.

I received an ARC from the author. My review is an honest reflection of my thoughts.

The Madness of Mercury
Profile Image for Sapphyria  .
1,732 reviews47 followers
May 17, 2016
Life is good for Julia Bonatti. She has a thriving astrology career plus she writes a column for the local paper. After her response to a submitted question involving the cynicism of a cult leader, his practices, and the religion as a whole, Julie finds her world crumbling. Seeking solace and safety, she temporarily stays in the estate of a wealthy pair of elderly ladies, Evandra and Eunice, who are currently under the care of their niece, Dorothy. Things really begin to heat up when Evandra starts displaying odd behavior and Eunice leaves home to join up with the cult leader at his compound.

Honestly, I wasn't really sure about The Madness of Mercury at the beginning. Yes, I read the synopsis and I knew the book would involve astrology to some degree but I wasn't prepare for the amount that was used in the book. As someone who isn't really interested in astrology, I didn't really have anything in common with Julia, it was hard to relate to her. However, as the story progressed, I was able to push the astrology parts aside and focus on the characters and the plot.

The multi-faceted story line kept me engaged and interested. The goings on within the sisters' estate, along with the threats from the cult that invaded San Francisco, will have the reader pushing on with anticipation. The character development and world building was done well and nothing was lacking. The mystery wasn't easily solvable and I found that the couple people I thought could be responsible were not, so the author did a great job building up the mystery without giving anything away early.

Lovers of cozy mysteries will enjoy this first book in the Zodiac Mystery series.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Judi.
23 reviews
June 7, 2016
If you are looking for a new cozy mystery series to start, look no further than Connie di Marco's The Madness of Mercury! After her fiance dies tragically, Julia Bonatti becomes an astrologer and newspaper columnist. She is also the target of dangerous leader of a religious cult whose influence reaches all across San Francisco, where Julia lives, and beyond. Julia faces constant trouble in her own home and in the lives of her clients and friends. She and her kitty, Wizard, must flee their home and move into her client's mansion. But, even there they are not safe!

Julia makes it her personal mission to get to the bottom of the trouble with Reverend Roy and gets herself into many scrapes along the way. The mystery ultimately builds up to a daring break-in at the cult's compound and Julia's rescue of one of her elderly clients being kept there against her will. She has help along the way from her friends from The Mystic Eye, where Julia sometimes meets with her clients, and also the Sheriff and a geriatric motel owner in the small town near the compound.

The characters in this book are well developed and interesting to follow. I really enjoyed getting to know some of the astrology terms that I'd previously had no experience with. I also loved the many descriptions of places in and around San Francisco (where I hope to visit someday!).
All in all, this is a great read and a wonderful first novel in a new series by Connie di Marco. I would highly recommend it! I'm very much looking forward to the 2nd book in the series and hopefully I won't have to wait too long!

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for Jennifer.
471 reviews9 followers
February 6, 2016
Thanks to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for sending me an ARC of this book. This book is available June 8, 2016 but can be preordered now.

The stars are perfectly aligned for this cozy mystery! “The Madness of Mercury” is the first in a new series by Connie di Marco. Julia Bonatti is an astrologer in San Francisco just going about her business, when suddenly she is the object of hatred for a local cult group.

Dorothy is one of Julia’s clients and her elderly aunt Evandra has requested a consultation. Dorothy cares for both her elderly aunts, Evandra and Eunice, in their historic home, the Gamble house. Evandra informs Julia the she thinks Dorothy is trying to kill her. Meanwhile, their nurse, Gudrun, is a leader of the cult group and is working to recruit Eunice to the group and get her to sign over all of her estate to them. In another part of town, the cult group is staging a protest in the street in front of Julia’s home and the store, Mystic Eye, where Julia sometimes sees clients. Julia blames a Mercury transit for all these strange occurrences. But when Eunice is kidnapped by the cult, Julia is on a one man mission to rescue her.

When I started this book I had no idea how astrology could be woven into a mystery in an engaging way. That just goes to show how little I know about astrology, but my interest has been piqued now. This book was exciting and engaging from the opening paragraph to the action filled end. Bottom line: I loved this story and can’t wait to see more in this series.

Alinefromabook’s recommendation: TWO THUMBS-UP! This is a great new entry in the cozy mystery arena. Content is appropriate for adults and teens.
Profile Image for Damaskcat.
1,782 reviews4 followers
January 29, 2016
Julia Bonati is an astrologer living and working in San Francisco. She has private clients who come to her for advice and she writes an astrological advice column for the local paper. She finds herself being targeted by a new religious cult as an agent of the devil. Its members stage demonstrations outside her apartment and also outside a New Age shop where she has consultations with her clients. Gradually all the healers, therapists and astrologers in the area become the targets of the cult.

Fearing for the safety of the people who live in her apartment block, Julia takes refuge with Dorothy, a friend and client who is looking after two elderly aunts - one of whom seems to be under the influence of the Reverend Roy. As the violence escalates and Julia's life and livelihood are threatened she vows to expose the cult for what it is.

This is an entertaining and quite frightening mystery showing how fanatical beliefs can get totally out of hand to the extent that they damage everyone who comes into contact with the people holding those beliefs. I found the undercurrents in this well written mystery to be very dark and disturbing. I liked Julia as a character and I shall hope to read more of her adventures in the future. I also enjoyed the astrological background to the story though you don't actually need to know much about astrology to understand what is going on.

This is a cozy mystery with added depth and some cozy mystery fans may find it too dark for their taste but I enjoyed it. I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley for review.
Profile Image for Lisa.
23 reviews2 followers
June 7, 2016
The planets are not aligned for San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti, in Connie Di Marco’s The Madness of Mercury. Julia finds herself in the crosshairs of resident cult leader Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle when she answers a letter in her Zodiac newspaper column. While Julia’s life begins to unravel she is drawn into the world of her elderly client Evandra, who believes that her niece Dorothy is going to harm her. Things go from bad to worse when Eunice, Evandra’s sister, is pulled into Reverend Roy’s orbit and a mysterious young man claiming to be a long lost nephew suddenly appears at the family’s home.

Julia Bonatti is a heroine that you want to see succeed due to her genuine feelings for the well being of her friends and clients, especially Evandra and Eunice. I found myself immediately drawn into her world as she navigated all the twists and turns. The secondary characters are multi-layered which leads to the reader to become more engaged in their journey. Overall, the story moves at fast pace and flows with astrological elements sprinkled between mystery and and a few laugh out loud moments. I enjoyed this debut novel by Connie Di Marco and look forward to more books in the Zodiac Mystery series.

Thank you to Connie Di Marco for providing me with this ARC for review purposes.

The Madness of Mercury
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