Tag Archive for: Connie di Marco

Well, don’t tell a soul, but I have.  That’s how the first inklings of Tail of the Dragon sprouted in my brain.
That’s when I first considered murdering a lawyer or . . . lawyers. 

Whaat, you say?  A lawyer?  Why?  Well, a long time ago, I worked for a lawyer who was loud, abusive, critical and just downright mean.  That’s when I first started to ponder how I was going to do away with him.   Don’t be shocked.  Tell the truth now.  Haven’t you ever considered killing your boss?  Maybe not all of your bosses over the years, but surely there must have been one that irritated you more than any other.  Well, perhaps irritated isn’t a strong enough word.  How about infuriated you until you saw red and you were tempted to throttle him with your bare hands.  Damn the consequences!

It was Shakespeare who said in Henry V, “Let’s kill all the lawyers.”  So it’s definitely not a new idea.  And then of course, Vlad the Impaler invited all the local lawyers to dinner and beheaded them.  So I’m not alone.  Am I a monster?  Certainly not!  I was just an overworked, underpaid, harassed legal peon.

I used to wonder if there was a way I could electrocute him using the cord to his hard drive.  I thought of poison – poison chocolates maybe.  After all, the chocolates could have been delivered by anyone.  Even a client.  Not me.  Certainly not me!  Several years ago, a secretary in a New York City law firm arrived at the office toting a gun and shot her boss dead as he sat in his executive chair.  See?  I wasn’t alone in my deathly fantasies.  I had a lot of sympathy for her! 

Did I do it?  Nope.  That’s why I’m still here.  That’s why I decided to kill some lawyers in Tail of the Dragon.  What else is an evil-thinking author to do but create such a story?  Julia Bonatti, my San Francisco astrologer, has no such lethal leanings.  She just wants to do good.  That’s why she agrees to sniff around her client’s law firm and try to find out who’s sending death threats.

Of course, as the bodies pile up, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

And worst of all, even though she’s sure of the astrological clues, no one will listen.  What’s a well-meaning astrologer to do except get to the root of the problem and bring down a murderer?

Now tell me the truth.  Have you ever considered murder?  Even if it was just a fantasy?

Be honest now!

This post first appeared on July 26, 2018 at Lori’s Reading Corner.

I love ghost stories, especially the scary ones, even though I’ve never written about a ghost.  Well, maybe that’s not quite true.  If you’ve read The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the Zodiac Mysteries, you’ll remember there’s a ghost story connected to the Gamble House and even a séance!  But considering that San Francisco isn’t that old a city, it does seem to have more than its share of haunted sites.

For example, the Squando was a Norwegian sailing ship that docked in San Francisco in 1890.  The captain discovered that his wife was having an affair with his first mate, so he lopped off the first mate’s head and dumped the body in the Bay.  Shortly after, the captain, his wife and the head disappeared and were never found.
The story doesn’t end there though.  The next three captains of the Squando were murdered by their crews.  The ship was finally docked in New Brunswick but no one could be found who would guard the ship.  All claimed they saw a bloody headless man roaming the ship at night.  It’s also said that on foggy nights an old three-masted ship can be seen sailing aimlessly in San Francisco Bay.

How about the tall glass and steel highrise at 555 California Street.  It was built in 1969 and for a long time housed the Bank of America.  Office staff have been freaked out by files flying off shelves and cold spots moving through the rooms.  One theory is that victims from the 1906 earthquake are still trapped underground.  That’s not much of a stretch actually, because in truth, rubble from collapsed buildings and hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies were plowed into the Bay when the clean up after the earthquake began.  The powers in the city at that time were in a big hurry to clear up the mess and attract investors.  So much of the land South of Market Street is filled land (not good in a quake) and was created from this very rubble.

Then there’s Flora Sommerton.  She was a debutante from a wealthy family who was about to be forced into a loveless marriage to an older man.  Flora was having none of it.  At her engagement party in 1876, she ran away and never returned home. Many years later in 1926, she was found dead in a cheap hotel in Butte, Montana.  It’s said that on foggy nights, young Flora can be seen walking down California Street from Nob Hill still wearing her white ball gown, the same gown she wore that fateful night in 1876.

There are many more ghost stories in the city – the lady of Stow Lake, the Haskell House, the Atherton Mansion and even more.  If you’re interested in exploring, check out this site for a walking tour:  San Francisco Ghost Hunt.   Hope you’re not easily scared.  It’s not for the faint of heart!

This post first appeared at the Pulp and Mystery Shelf on June 26, 2018.   


On this blog tour for Tail of the Dragon, the third book in the Zodiac Mysteries, I planned to highlight a few iconic San Francisco locations — places where my sleuth, astrologer Julia Bonatti, might visit or become involved in a crime.  The Island of Alcatraz was one of them.  However, there was a slight problem — there is so much history and so many stories on this tiny island, just a mile and a quarter from the city, it was too much to squeeze into just one post.

So here goes – here’s what I’ve learned about the spirits of the island:  Alcatraz is considered one of the most haunted places in America and certainly the most haunted prison in the country.  Early explorers to the island found an eerie atmosphere.  Native Americans knew of the island for thousands of years and even though they gathered bird eggs and fish for food, believed that evil spirits resided there.  They used the island to deport criminals under tribal law and as a burial site for outcasts.  When the Spanish began to spread Christianity in the 1700’s, natives who did not want to convert used Alcatraz as their refuge.

Long before it was utilized as a federal penitentiary, it was a military prison for America’s earliest wars.  Many were incarcerated there, some were declared insane after their imprisonment, many died and many were horribly tortured.  So it’s no wonder that prisoners, rangers and visitors have reported a wide range of ghostly activity — whispering in empty cells, locked cell doors opening, phantom figures in corridors, cold spots, floating blue lights and figures, moaning, the clanking of chains in unoccupied cells and even the sounds of musical instruments and sewing machines.

Psychics and paranormal investigators believe that D-Block, the worst cell for punishment in the “Hole,” is the prime location of most of the ghostly activity.  Four of its forty-two cells are thought to be haunted.  Cell 14-D in particular is permanently icy cold even during the summer.  One inmate in this block claimed to have seen glowing red eyes in the dark and screamed for hours.  He was found dead the following morning with a purple face, bulging eyes, and unidentified strangle marks around his throat.  Although I suspect it’s likely there was human cause for his death.

In an odd twist of history, Native Americans occupied and held the island from November 1969 to June 1971 in an effort to create a cultural center on the basis of a broken 1868 treaty between the Sioux and U.S. government.  In their statement to the world they said:

“It would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.”

Their efforts were commendable, but in light of the island’s eerie history, perhaps they should have heeded their ancestors and chosen a less haunted place.

What do you think?  Would you fancy a short ferry ride to Alcatraz?  Would you want to stay there overnight?  Brrrrr . . .

This post first appeared at Varietats2010.blogspot on June 17, 2018. 

If you’re a fan of the Zodiac Mysteries, then you’ve definitely visited the Mystic Eye.  You know a lot about it and have met many of the eccentric characters who hang out there.  The occult shop is owned by my protagonist, Julia Bonatti’s, good friend Gale.  And even though I didn’t plan to set so many scenes there when the series began, it just sort of happened.  It was a great place for the characters to come together, especially at the psychic fairs.

There’s Nikolai, the Russian past life regression hypnotist, a larger than life man with a mysterious background.  There’s Zora, the medium and psychic who scares Julia half to death sometimes, lots of other psychics, Wiccans, Tarot readers and all sorts of characters.

So where did my Mystic Eye come from?  A long time ago, there was a real Mystic Eye, also on Broadway in San Francisco, but a little farther east, past the strip clubs and bars and comedy clubs of North Beach.  I remember it well.  It was a strange, dark little place, draped in black hangings.  It sold books and ointments and image candles for candle burning rituals, books on cultural and religious practices, some of it rather dark.  Not particularly my cup of tea, but I was curious since there was no shop like it in the city at the time.  It’s long gone now, so I felt safe using that name for the Zodiac Mysteries.
Julia’s Mystic Eye of the Zodiac books also has an exotic and mysterious atmosphere – plaster gargoyles, Tarot cards, crystals, books on psychic power and healing and religions of all sorts, candle burning supplies, dreamcatchers, magical herbs and ointments, greeting cards and lots of things that make great gifts.  Here are some photos that in spired me when I was writing the Zodiac Mysteries.  Have a look and see if this looks like your mental image of the Eye.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Is there anything happening at The Mystic Eye that you’d like to know more about?  Is there any field of study in the occult world that I haven’t touched upon?  Pyschometry? Remote viewing?  Candle burning?  How about crime or murder?

I hope you’ll stop in at the Eye soon and read about Julia’s adventures in the third book in the Zodiac Mysteries — Tail of the Dragon.  See you at the Eye!
This post first appeared at Island Confidential [frankiebow.com] on June 23, 2018.

It’s murder.  That’s what we love to read and that’s what crime fiction writers write.  But have you ever wondered about all the euphemisms we have for murder and death?  There’s a whole bunch.

There are the obvious ones – Uncle Herbert passed on or maybe Uncle Herbert passed over.
And then of course we have these —
He bought the farm
He’s pushing up daisies
He met his maker
He kicked the bucket
He’s gone to his heavenly reward and if Uncle Herbert was a complete scoundrel then we can assume he’s now roasting in hell!

So that led me to wondering why we’re all so fascinated with crime fiction, no matter the genre, whether we read it or whether we write it.
Is it the puzzle itself?  How many people in the mansion had access to the elderberry wine?
The whodunit?  Any one of the sewing circle could have skewered the victim when no one was looking.
Is it the scary thrills and chills of suspense?  Is my husband really who he says he is?
Is it the determined hunt we find in forensics and police procedurals?  Or is it all of these?

I know why I find it so fascinating.  It’s the psychology of the act.  The burning thing that drives an ordinary person to commit murder.  The exploration of the mind of an absolutely normal, everyday person who finds himself or herself in dire straits and doesn’t see any other way out.  I’m not talking about serial killers here.  They’re just completely nuts.  They need to be locked up forever so they won’t hurt anyone.  But the fascinating thing for me is the inner workings of the mind of an average human being pushed beyond the pale.

What about you?  Why do you read crime fiction – whatever the genre?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This post first appeared at A Blue Million Books on June 25, 2018.