Wednesday, May 15, 2024

THE LIGHT BESIDE THE SEA by Conni di Marco ~ Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway

The Light Beside the Sea (A Zodiac Mystery, #5)
by: Connie di Marco
Series: Zodiac Mystery
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: May 3, 2024

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti has been haunted for years by the hit and run death of her fiancé, Michael Sefton. The driver of the vehicle was never apprehended. The lone witness to the accident spoke to no one and now is dead. Even the cold case detective assigned to the case died before any resolution was found. Every time Julia thought she might be getting close to an answer, each clue led only to a dead end.

Michael, a graduate student, had just returned from an archeological dig in Guatemala when he was killed. But why did he mail his journal to Julia for safekeeping before his return home? What was he afraid of? Why did another graduate student fall to his death on that trip? And now, another man connected with that journey has been murdered closer to home. And the murderer hasn’t finished.

When Julia finally finds the courage to delve into the journal Michael sent to her years before, she learns of the undercurrents, jealousies and anger between members of the group. She begins to understand the pressure and fear her fiancé was coping with and his suspicions of their University mentor who was most likely engaged in unethical and illegal behavior.

But events soon take a darker turn when Julia finds a likeness of the Maya god Hunhau, god of death and the underworld, on her doorstep. A strange man covered with markings and tattoos keeps appearing to her but no one else seems to see him. With guidance from another professor she’s introduced to a world she never knew existed.

Is the man she sees human? And is he under the sway of the Maya god of death?

Will he unleash evil or is he here to right a wrong done to his people?

Julia must move quickly or her death will be the next.

Hi Connie. Welcome back to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I’m great, Kim! Thanks so much for hosting me! It’s wonderful to reconnect with you, it’s been too long.

In each of your Zodiac Mystery books your protagonist, Julia Bonatti, solves a murder or two. However, throughout the series, the hit-and-run death of Julia’s fiance, Michael Sefton, has been a looming arc. How many years has it been since Michael's death?
It’s been a few years, about three and a half, maybe closer to four, since Michael was killed. I’ve always tried to vary the seasons in each book to convey a sense of time moving on. The Madness of Mercury is set at Christmastime. All Signs Point to Murder begins at a summer wedding. Tail of the Dragon takes place in the fall, at Halloween, and Serpent’s Doom is set against the backdrop of the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival in February.

Throughout this series, Michael has been a character mentioned in every book. What was he like?
Oh, Michael was a wonderful guy! He was kind and understanding. He was compassionate. You remember how he found a suffering dog in Golden Gate Park and nursed him back to health? Michael was intelligent and good looking. He had a great sense of humor, he was fun loving, and of course, sexy! I suppose he had his faults, like everyone, but I don’t know what they could have been. And Julia never focuses on that anyway. She just misses him terribly.

I'm fascinated by the writing process and how things come together, each book reveals a little more about Michael’s accident and seems to lead towards the conclusion of the series. When you wrote The Madness of Mercury, did you know what truly happened to Michael, why he was killed, and who the killer was?
Not all, Kim! I had no idea how I was going to deal with Michael’s death. In the back of my mind, I knew at some point it would be time to explore how and why he died. And of course, in each book Julia tries her best to learn more, hoping the driver of the car that killed him will be revealed. I had a lot of fun writing this one and I hope the solution will be shocking and riveting for readers!

The titles of all the books in the series have a meaning behind them. What's the meaning behind The Light Beside the Sea?
I fell in love with this title! It comes from an ancient Maya creation myth translated into English as ‘The Light that Came from Beside the Sea.’ Michael had just returned from an archeological dig in Guatemala when he was killed. Michael’s interest was actually in refugee studies, so traveling with the university group was a good opportunity for him to get to Guatemala. Of course, it was that trip that led to his eventual death. But no spoilers here!

There’s a strong paranormal element in this book that was a little different from earlier books. Julia is haunted by a strange man covered in markings and tattoos, but no one else seems to see him when he appears to her. I wasn’t sure how this would work out in the end, but I think it conveys the confusion and stress that Julia is under as she continues to delve into Michael’s last days.

The Light Beside the Sea is the fifth in the series. Is it the final book? And was the writing process bittersweet or were you happy to finally give Julia answers and closer?
Oh, Kim, I hope it’s not the final book in the series! I think Julia has a few more adventures in her future.

I’ve made a start on Zodiac #6 and just need more time to keep working on this idea. I want to focus on Julia’s friend Gale in this book, her secrets and her past, which she has kept hidden from her friends. Needless to say, Julia will do everything she can to rescue Gale and keep her safe from her frightening past.

What’s next for you?
I’m pulled in a few different directions. I’ve finished a completely different book, a police procedural set in Los Angeles, with two very eccentric characters that have been rattling around in my head for a long time. I may revise this one a bit, but I think it’s just about ready to go.

I’ve also started work on a ghost story set in present time with a ghost from another century who can’t leave until his murder is solved.

I just need to find the time to get back to the next Zodiac Mystery and these other two projects!

Connie, thank you so much for your time.
Thank you, Kim! It’s so great to be visiting with you today!

Stay well and happy reading!
Come on, let’s try to find our way back to the office.” We headed down the corridor of the storage facility, away from the exit door, and took several turns. Two to the right and one to the left. Maggie stopped.

“What’s wrong?”

“I think . . . I think we took a wrong turn. Wait, let me check the map.” She dug into her pocket and studied the map. “Okay, we should have gone right at the last turn. I’ll find the way.” We turned in the opposite direction and started to walk. A wind blew down the corridor, ruffling my hair. It became stronger and louder until it sounded like a howling. Maggie grasped my arm and turned frightened eyes to me. “What the hell is that?” she whispered.

I shook my head. “Did somebody leave a door open? I think it’s just wind but it sounded almost like a wounded animal.”

“What if they did leave a door open? There are all kinds of critters around here. Raccoons and coyotes.” The overhead lights flickered off and on, then cut out entirely. We were in pitch darkness.

Maggie clung to me even tighter. “Julia,” she whispered. “What happened?”

“No idea. Electrical overload? Or something cut the power.”

The sound of the wind began again, rising to a higher and higher pitch. “Oh God, it does sound like howling,” Maggie whispered. “Hold on to my arm. We have to find our way back. I have a picture in my head. I just have to feel along the wall.” We were in complete darkness, the eerie sound grew louder. My heart was racing. Something was here. Was it human or animal?

I clung to Maggie’s arm and we shuffled slowly along. “Julia, what’s that smell?”

I sniffed. “No idea,” I whispered. “But it’s really strange.”

“Why are we whispering?”

“Keep your voice down, Maggie. If someone’s here who shouldn’t be here, we’re defenseless.”

“Thanks for reminding me.”

“Do you have a flashlight on you?”

“Damn. No. And there’s one in the office too. My cell phone’s on the desk. What about you?” Maggie whispered.

“Buried in my purse.” I groaned.

We continued to move slowly along the corridor in the dark. Maggie stopped. “Let’s turn left.”

“Are you sure?”

“No. But sooner or later, we should reach the main corridor and we’ll see the lights in the office. That’s if they’re still working.” I felt Maggie turning to the left, and holding on to her arm, followed. We were blind. She could feel the doorways to the storage units as we moved along, but we couldn’t see a thing. “Okay, we’re at the end of this hallway, Julia. I’m going to the other side because I think we need to turn right here. Stay with me.”

Maggie reached out blindly until she hit the opposite wall. I grasped her other arm as we turned to the right. At least we hadn’t lost all sense of direction. The howling sound continued but I no longer felt a rush of wind. The pungent odor became heavier. We turned the corner and came to an abrupt halt. Maggie gasped, “What the hell . . .?”

A red haze shimmered in the corridor. The only light. The only relief from the darkness. “Oh, no,” I whispered. In the midst of it stood a man, large, naked from the waist up and covered in tattoos and markings. “It’s him.”

Purchase The Light Beside the Sea from:
(Affiliate Links Used)

The Zodiac Mystery Series:
The Madness of Mercury (Book 1) ~ Review
All Signs Point to Murder (Book 2) ~ Review
Tail of the Dragon (Book 3) ~ Review
Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (Prequel: Book 3.5) ~ Review

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti, a woman who never thought murder would be part of her practice. The fifth book in this series, The Light Beside the Sea, has just been released.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling 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. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Places to find Connie di Marco:

You can follow The Light Beside the Sea Blog Tour here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I enjoyed the interview. The excerpt sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Kim ~ thanks so much for hosting The Light Beside the Sea today!

    1. You're welcome, Connie. Thank you so much for doing the interview. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  3. What a great mystery read! And I love the amazing cover.
    Thank you for sharing this.


Did you just copy and paste your previous comment? Please don't. Duplicate comments will be deleted.

Comments that include links to other sites, or names including links WILL BE CONSIDERED SPAM AND DELETED.