Select one of the keywords
The Star: A Tarot Card Mystery    by David Skibbins order for
by David Skibbins
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

David Skibbins' The Star is the third - following The Eight of Swords and High Priestess in his series starring middle-aged Warren Ritter, one of the most unlikely (and delightful) antiheroes on the mystery scene. Ritter has been a fugitive from justice, since his foolish youthful involvement in the Weather Underground. He's lived under the radar for thirty years, continually on the move, and financed by his fortunate early investment in Microsoft stocks. He's a martial artist and manic depressive (his interactions with his elderly, feisty psychiatrist Rose are highly entertaining).

Warren has a Tarot-reading gig on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue. As the first book opened, he encountered his sister Tara, who believed him dead since 1970, and remains furious with him over his deception. Tara told him about the daughter, Fran, he never knew he had. Fran is bipolar like her dad, and now has a new son, Justin. And, to strengthen Warren's roots in San Franciso even more, he has developed a strong relationship with wheelchair-bound Sally, a paranoid, ex-army medic, and a brilliant computer hack, whose rottweiler guard dog Ripley fortunately approves her choice in boyfriends.

The Star begins a week before Christmas, and the chapters open with contextually fitting carol verses. Fran calls Warren out of the blue for help. Her abusive cop husband Orrin has taken five-month-old Justin away from her, claiming - not without cause - that she's an unfit mother. Soon afterwards, Orrin is murdered and his partner, whom Warren calls 'Conan the Constable', is doing all he can to tag Fran as the killer. Calling on Rose to help with his suicidal daughter, Warren rides his motorcycle to the rescue, and starts digging, helped by Sally on her computer.

In parallel with this investigation, an old friend of Warren's father's recognizes him. Eric Landon tells him surprising things about his old man (including the fact that he suspects Walter Green was murdered by a young gold digger), and gives him a letter. And, if Warren's life weren't already complicated enough, Fran dumps baby Justin (kidnapped from his grandparents' house) on her dear old - and totally inexperienced at parenting - dad (it's amusing to watch him struggle with infant paraphernalia).

As Warren tells us, 'No one was going to use the little gray cells to find this murderer. It was going to take dumb luck, dogged determination, and foolhardy courage. Now that sounded right up my alley.' As always, this ex-hippie fights his natural tendency to run for the hills at the first sign of danger, solves the crimes, continues to keep his past a secret - from all except his growing coterie of family and friends - in another engaging romp through 60s nostalgia. This Tarot Card Mystery series is great fun and not to be missed.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews