Authors: Connie Di Marco
The Madness of Mercury: A Zodiac Mystery
© 2016 by Connie di Marco.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
First e-book edition © 2016
E-book ISBN: 9780738750781
Book format by Teresa Pojar
Cover design by Ellen Lawson
Cover illustration by Mary Ann Lasher-Dodge
Additional cover images by iStockphoto.com/68695459/©maroznc
Midnight Ink is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Di Marco, Connie, 1945– author.
Title: The madness of Mercury : a zodiac mystery / Connie di Marco.
Description: First edition. | Woodbury, Minnesota : Midnight Ink, 
Identifiers: LCCN 2016002199 (print) | LCCN 2016014051 (ebook) | ISBN
9780738749129 | ISBN 9780738750781 ()
Subjects: LCSH: Astrologers—Fiction. | San Francisco (Calif.)—Fiction. |
GSAFD: Mystery fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3604.I116 M33 2016 (print) | LCC PS3604.I116 (ebook) |
LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016002199
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Many thanks to Paige Wheeler of Creative Media Agency, Inc. for her hard work, good advice, and expertise, and to Terri Bischoff, Sandy Sullivan, Katie Mickschl, Teresa Pojar, Ellen Lawson, Mary Ann Lasher-Dodge, and the entire team at Midnight Ink for welcoming the Zodiac Mysteries to their home.
Special thanks as well to my writers’ group and first readers—Kim Fay, Laurie Stevens, Cheryl Brughelli, Don Fedosiuk, and Paula Freedman—for their critiques and encouragement.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to Llewellyn Publications for all the wonderful astrology books they’ve published over the years. Without that esoteric knowledge, this series would never have been created.
Last, but certainly not least, thanks to my family and my wonderful husband for their tolerance in living with a woman who is constantly thinking about murder.
HERE 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. Having no place of his own, Mercury was given rulership of 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.
ONG 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
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’ve formed a few rules over the course of my practice—number one is that my clients come to
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. She was an elderly woman recovering from a fracture, and 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.”