Eight of Swords (Tarot Card Mysteries)

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9780312352257: Eight of Swords (Tarot Card Mysteries)

Tarot reader Warren Ritter has never believed in the cards’ power to foretell the future. But recently his predictions have come true with an unsettling regularity. When the first eight cards of teenage Heather Wellington’s Tarot are ominous, Warren stops the reading at nine cards instead of ten. After Heather leaves, he looks at number ten–the Death card...

Warren knows the Death card isn’t a guarantee of doom, but it doesn’t mean there are good things ahead either. So he can’t help feeling horror later that day when he sees Heather’s face on the TV screen with the word “Kidnapped!” slashed across the top...

Now Warren finds himself pulled into the mystery of Heather’s kidnapping—and then a bizarre murder heightens his fear for her life. Suddenly the cops, a beautiful lady, and a killer are all complicating Warren’s life. But the tarot cards have a final message for Warren: Only he can untangle the mystery of a young woman’s disappearance before it’s too late...

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Review:

With Moses Wine, Roger L. Simon's once free-spirited, dope-smoking, "people's detective" (introduced in The Big Fix, 1973) having dulled the bite of his political cynicism over the years--and even threatening to go Republican!--there’s an opening for a new American anti-establishment gumshoe. Now applying for the job: the pseudonymous "Warren Ritter," a 55-year-old former "revolutionary guerilla" who’s been hiding out from The Man for the last three decades (ever since an explosion in which he supposedly died), and who has worked for the last six years as a tarot card reader in counter-cultural Berkeley, California.

When we first meet him, in David Skibbins's Eight of Swords, this anarchist-hero is offering his "fortune-telling jive" to Heather Wellington, a plucky brunette teenager burdened with a controlling stepfather, a black boyfriend her parents don't approve of, and a cretinish, gang-running ex-beau she can't seem to shake. Discomfited by the "oncoming cataclysm" forecast in her future, Warren chooses to downplay any imminent threats. But the next thing he knows, Heather's been kidnapped, he stumbles across her mother’s corpse in a downtown park, "pigs" (police) begin peppering him with questions, and his elderly therapist suggests that Warren expunge his guilt in these matters by locating the missing girl. For someone who's trying to lie low, solving crimes isn't exactly in the cards. However, this motorcycle-riding fugitive has picked up a few tough-guy moves during his "underground" years, and more than his fair share of resentment against an unjust world. So, assisted by a paraplegic computer hacker and a Hispanic security specialist, Warren embarks on a rescue mission that will lead him to tangle with malicious car thieves and meddlesome feds, face down slavering guard dogs, and--all in a day’s work--foil an incendiary bomb designed to destroy evidence of several crimes.

Although Eight of Swords won the 2004 Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Press contest for Best First Traditional Mystery, the conventionality of this series debut shows only in its methodical progress from clues to conclusions. And, save for his tendency to refer to women as "chicks," there’s nothing especially old-fashioned about Warren Ritter--a man prone to bipolar mood swings and haunted by his past: abandoned lovers, a sister who's only just discovered he's still alive, and a daughter he has never met. Skibbins, a California life coach, demonstrates a flair for dramatic pacing and plausible character development. If Warren can resist fleeing whenever his carefully constructed façade seems endangered, bright prospects for this rebel detective with a cause might not be so hard to predict. --J. Kingston Pierce

From the Back Cover:

THE CARDS NEVER LIE...
Tarot reader Warren Ritter has never believed in the cards' power to foretell the future. But recently his predictions have come true with an unsettling regularity. When the first eight cards of teenage Heather Wellington's Tarot are ominous, Warren stops the reading at nine cards instead of ten. After Heather leaves, he looks at number ten-the Death card...

ESPECIALLY WHEN...
Warren knows the Death card isn't a guarantee of doom, but it doesn't mean there are good things ahead either. So he can't help feeling horror later that day when he sees Heather's face on the TV screen with the word "Kidnapped!" slashed across the top...

DEATH IS NEAR...
Now Warren finds himself pulled into the mystery of Heather's kidnapping--and then a bizarre murder heightens his fear for her life. Suddenly the cops, a beautiful lady, and a killer are all complicating Warren's life. But the cards have a final message for Warren: Only he can untangle the mystery of a young woman's disappearance before it's too late...

"David Skibbins's award-winning debut delivers atmosphere, suspense, and humanity at a breakneck pace...a true American original."
--Julia Spencer-Fleming, Agatha and Anthony Award winning author of In the Bleak Midwinter

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