Friday, January 7, 2022

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Connie Di Marco to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Connie writes the Zodiac Mystery series. ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT is a novella prequel to the series.

Theater Settings
By Connie Di Marco

ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT, is a novella (in ebook format) set before the beginning of the Zodiac Mysteries. Writing this was a unique experience for me, because I’ve never thought about nor attempted a novella. I’ve only written full-length mysteries.

The title of the novella is a reference to stage directions and came about because this mystery is set at a theater, the newly renovated Theatre Mars where a first production of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death is about to open.

It made sense to set this mystery at a theater, because it was important to feature Gloria Bonatti, Julia’s grandmother. Gloria was a seamstress most of her life and before she retired, the owner of a small dress shop in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Gloria’s been sought out and hired to create costumes for this 1930’s drama. That’s unusual for her because she only rarely takes on alterations for close friends and neighbors. But Gloria, now in her seventies, loves the wardrobe of that time period and has happily thrown herself into the project.

Now, to backtrack a bit. I cut my teeth on all those wonderful Golden Age classics by authors like Christie, but also authors such as Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh and Marjorie Allingham, all of whom have written mysteries set at theaters. I’ll add Dorothy Sayers to that list. I’ve loved her mysteries but sadly, I don’t recall a theater mystery written by Sayers. I think I must have been unconsciously channeling my memories of those wonderful books, and didn’t realize till I finished my story, put it aside for a few weeks and went back to read it again.

Of course, even though my story is quite different, I have to admit, I “lifted” the plot of APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH to suit my purposes and for that I am eternally grateful to Dame Agatha. And grateful to her for all her wonderful stories featuring Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot! But when I returned to read and edit ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT, I very modestly felt my little novella was a true nod to all those Golden Age classics. I hope everyone enjoys this story and is very careful which theater invitations they accept in the future.

Happy reading! And stay tuned for the next full-length Zodiac mystery, SERPENT'S DOOM, to be released in April 2022!



A Prequel to the Zodiac Mystery Series 

Julia Bonatti is holed up at her Grandmother Gloria's house grieving the sudden and tragic death of her fiancé. In order to bring Julia back to the land of the living, Gloria asks her for help delivering costumes to the theatre. Gloria, a retired seamstress, is in charge of costumes for the new production of Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death. Staying for the dress rehearsal Julia is impressed by the performance, but worried about actions off the set. With nasty diva demeaning everyone and an affair between castmates, this play is courting trouble.

With an undergraduate degree in theatre I love reading mysteries with a theatrical backdrop. Add a hint of astrology and you've got me hooked. The bonus is seeing what Julia was like just after her fiancé's death and witnessing her motivation to learn astrology. I loved seeing what Gloria was like at this time, not to mention Kuan. Plus we get to see how a little family member came into the fold.

While this prequel gives insight into the character of Julia Bonatti ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT also provides readers with a tautly written mystery. Great characters, veiled clues, and an adrenaline fueled search create a dynamic and enthralling read.


 Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco

About Enter a Wizard, Stage Left

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery)
Traditional Mystery Prequel Novella
Suspense Publishing (October 26, 2021)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 111 pages

Julia Bonatti wasn’t always a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer. She was a young woman, engaged to the love of her life, preparing for a teaching career when tragedy struck. Her fiancé was killed in a hit and run accident. As Julia struggles with her loss and attempts to find meaning in her life again, she takes refuge with her grandmother Gloria. But there’s little time for grief or rest because Gloria, a retired seamstress, needs Julia’s help. Gloria’s been hired to create costumes for a production of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death at the newly opened Theatre Mars in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

Theatre Mars is a stunning jewel, the cast is supremely talented and the script is brilliant. What could go wrong? Julia gets the first hint of trouble when her new friend, the owner of The Mystic Eye bookshop, warns that all might not go well. Opening night will take place during the dark of the moon, the last three days before the new moon, a time that bodes disaster for any new project. The dire prediction comes true when the lead actress is murdered before the final curtain, echoing the play itself. Julia discovers a vital clue to the murder, but a clue that puts Gloria’s life in grave danger. Can Julia rescue her grandmother before it’s too late? And will a black cat play a leading role?

About Connie di Marco

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 writing mysteries. Writing as Connie Archer, she’s 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, and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Los Angeles but dreams constantly of the San Francisco fog.

Author Links:
Purchase Link - Amazon
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great post and giveaway.
    This book sounds like a great read. Would love to read & review this book and the author's other books in print format. Love books like this and look forward to getting to know this author & their books.

  2. Connie as you know I love your books but since I am battling RSD I can't do tech which like ebooks are out for me...I sure hope a lot of people sign up for your newsletter and discover how good your books are ..Peggy Clayton