Wednesday, August 8, 2018

All Signs Point to Murder (A Zodiac Mystery #2)

Author:  Connie di Marco
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780738751078
Midnight Ink Publishing
338 Pages
$7.99; $1.99 Amazon
August 8, 2017

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Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary's wedding day, but nobody asked Julia's opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what.  Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one's prepared for the catastrophes that strike:  a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family apart, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could have occurred.  As she digs deeper into the family's secrets, her astrological insights lead her to some rather unexpected conclusions.

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Julia Bonatti is an astrologer who's been roped into being part of a wedding party of her friend Geneva, one she really doesn't want to be part of but is doing so out of loyalty.  While there she sees that the bride's sister Moira not only doesn't show up to be in the wedding, but when they do find her she appears to be drunk, even though she insists she's not.  Later that night members of the wedding party retreat to the bride's sister Brooke's home to spend the night, lugging the wedding gifts with them.  During the night Julia hears what appears to be gunshots and finds out that Brooke's husband Rob has shot an intruder in the garage.  When the lights come on, the intruder is discovered to be Moira, and she's declared dead at the hospital.

When Rob insists there was another person in the garage and he didn't kill Moira, Geneva asks Julia to investigate and find out if there was another shooter, and if Moira was involved in something shady.  So Julia reluctantly agrees and goes to Moira's apartment, only to be conked on the head while there and knocked out.  When she comes to, she barely makes it out of the apartment before the police arrive.  What she does find, however, is an expensive bracelet - one that Moira could not have afforded, given her spotty employment record.  But when she shows the bracelet to Geneva, she knows nothing about it.

Still Julia continues to investigate, and finds out more about Moira's private life - including a second boyfriend that no one seems to know anything about.  Will she find the truth before an innocent man is convicted of murder?  Or will she lose her own life to someone who's been watching her all along and knows the only reason to keep a secret is if they are the only one who knows it...

This is the second book in the series, and I really wanted to like it as much as the first; however, I felt the story got bogged down by endless details about everything - where she parked, the attitude of valets, etc.; just descriptions of everything Julia encountered.  I mean, honestly, how many people do you know describe every single moment of their day?  And would you want to spend time with them if they did?

Julia is investigating the murder by herself with no help from anyone in the victim's family, which I find extremely odd considering she didn't even know Moira that well, if at all.  I certainly wouldn't put myself out to investigate the murder of someone I barely knew.  It doesn't make any sense, even given the fact that Geneva stood by her after Michael's death.  No explanation is given as to why Geneva isn't 'along for the ride' as it were, at least on some level.  Instead, she just put the entire thing in Julia's lap.  And when Julia is knocked out, Geneva doesn't even show real concern - she doesn't tell her to stop the investigation right there because her life might be in danger.  She just allows her to continue on.

I also didn't care much for Brooke.  She decided that she'd rather divorce her husband instead of having a second child, and when I read that she thought her career was more important than the marriage, well, that's telling right there.  Yes, I know the outcome and everything, but if either man or woman puts career ahead of marriage it pretty much says it all, doesn't it?  Didn't they discuss this before marrying?

I also felt the secondary story of Celia seemed more like filler so that the reader didn't forget the reason why Julia decided not to date again.  All it did was tell me that Julia is a doormat.  She investigates a murder - putting herself in danger - without help from the victim's family and doesn't say anything.  She allows her almost-mother-in-law to say things to her and push her around without fighting back.  She also goes to a building to eavesdrop on a conversation and gets into a cabinet to hide and gets locked in the building, then has to figure a way out without getting caught when she gets locked in.  It seemed like a really stupid thing to do.

Now I know these were plot lines with a reason behind them, but I think they could have been handled differently to show us that Julia was not blatantly stupid.  She professes to live her life by Astrology, but never sees if danger awaits her if she does certain things?  Why is she never looking at her own chart and taking precautions?

While these things may have detracted from the book for me, it was the ending that saved it, and the reason I give it three stars instead of two.  It was a nice one indeed, with a little bit of action and ingenuity and definite pluck on Julia's part that made me realize there is a brain in her head after all.  While I figured out the killer early on, it was interesting to watch Julia get to the gist of the matter and figure it out for herself.  This book is an easy read for a quiet afternoon and I will read the next in the series, because I did enjoy the first book.

https://www.amazon.com/Signs-Point-Murder-Zodiac-Mystery/dp/0738751073/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2487050844

More on Connie di Marco's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/connie-di-marco/

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