An astrologer wishes she were also a psychic when she’s targeted as a practitioner of witchcraft and forced into sticking with a client who may be in danger.
Though she’d much rather have her clients come to her, astrologer Julia Bonatti is willing to make an exception for her long-term client Dorothy’s aunt. Evandra isn’t infirm, but much as she thinks she needs Julia’s guidance, she’s not inclined to leave her house on Telegraph Hill to meet with her. Evandra suspects that Dorothy’s interested in getting her inheritance a bit early, and she wants to know if the stars confirm her fears. Julia is shocked to hear of Evandra’s suspicions, but she can’t rule them out, since Evandra’s chart warns of the madness of Mercury. The madness is apparently not confined to Evandra’s life, for Julia has to deal with unsuspected troubles of her own. She’s forced out of her home by protesters who accuse her of witchcraft and suggest burning her. These protesters appear to be followers of the charismatic, enigmatic Rev. Roy, the leader of the cultlike Prophet’s Tabernacle church. Julia is forced further into the lives of Dorothy, Evandra, and Evandra’s sister, Eunice, when she takes shelter in their house, with decidedly mixed results. Added to the chaos is the appearance of a young man who claims kinship with Evandra and Eunice. His arrival marks the beginning of the end of the drama to which Julia is a most unwilling participant.
This smartly written debut from di Marco (who wrote the Soup Lover’s Mystery series as Connie Archer) sets the stage for a promising series, though future installments would benefit from developing the heroine’s personal details more appealingly.