Reviewed September 18, 2007.
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Minotaur), New York, 2006. 280 pages.
I so enjoyed David Skibbins’ first book, Eight of Swords, I quickly snapped up his second Tarot Card Mystery.
This book also features the extremely quirky reluctant detective Warren Ritter. Even though he’s used to running from trouble or suspicion or intimacy, he’s sticking around Berkeley because of the new love in his life.
In this book, we again find Warren riding the heights and depths of his manic-depressive condition, and again getting unjustly suspected by the police. Like the first book, the story is fun, absorbing, and unpredictable. We learn about a series of mysterious deaths which might all be accidents. Or are they a determined pattern, with Warren’s old girlfriend on target to be the next victim?
I didn’t particularly like it that Warren was asked to investigate these deaths by the leader of “The Church of the Arising Night,” worshippers of Satan. The book includes a plausible sounding plea to join this cult, as well as the character of a sinister and threatening Christian minister. So if that would bother you in a novel, you should avoid this book.
As for me, I didn’t particularly like those details, but it’s not as if they suggest that all Christians are like this minister, or that joining the Church of Satan is a good idea. (Warren isn’t interested.) I wanted to know what happened to the character, so I read on. With all his quirks and weaknesses and shadowy past, he’s someone I find myself rooting for.