As San Francisco’s Chinatown prepares for the Lunar New Year festivities in the fogbound month of February, astrologer Julia Bonatti’s new clients are all in desperate straits. Tracy is the victim of a brutal husband with nowhere to run and Jeanette is sure her son has fallen in with a bad lot, but most frightening of all is Frankie Chang’s dilemma. Frankie’s only eleven years old, and his mother is missing. He’s terrified with nowhere to turn. Julia’s heart goes out to him, but her hands are tied. Frankie won’t let her talk to the police, and neither will his family. Her clients’ lives inevitably collide, exposing a dangerous smuggling cabal. Julia knows too much, and now she’s the target of a ruthless environmental group and criminals who will stop at nothing, including murder.
Connie di Marco recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, SERPENT’S DOOM:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope readers will truly enjoy the story, and that the plot and twists will keep them reading into the wee hours. If the characters invade a reader’s consciousness and remain memorable, all the better. Most of all, I hope readers will find this series entertaining and be willing to return for future adventures.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
The Zodiac Mysteries are traditional mysteries with an astrologer protagonist, i.e., an amateur sleuth. The darker elements in this series lend a depth and texture often lacking in stories featuring amateur sleuths.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Writers often speak of characters who simply “appeared” to them. Now, I do believe we all have a gallery of hundreds of characters in our mind(s), but I’ve never had that experience. Until now. This book, SERPENT’S DOOM, didn’t begin with a crime or an idea of a crime, it began with Frankie Chang, an eleven-year-old boy who “arrived” one day. Where did he come from? Who knows? But I couldn’t have been more surprised if he had actually materialized in this realty. And then, Frankie didn’t go away.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Oh, so many! It’s very hard to say which books or authors have been a direct influence. I first dipped my toes in the pool of Golden Age classic authors, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and others. I loved the books of John D. MacDonald and Len Deighton, Michael Connelly, and Sue Grafton. I’ve particularly enjoyed foreign writers—Liza Marklund, Nicolas Freeling, Henning Mankell, and Arnaldur Indridason. I think we learn and grow with every good story. There’s always something to take away.
With the Zodiac Mysteries, featuring Julia Bonatti, a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer, Connie di Marco has combined her fascination with astrology and her love of mysteries. Writing as Connie Archer, she’s also the national bestselling author of the 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. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers Association and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Los Angeles but dreams constantly of San Francisco fog.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.