David Skibbins is a life coach living in California who decided to write a traditional mystery novel based upon the Tarot. The end result? An award-winning first novel that is exciting and entertaining, with a distinct new protagonist I imagine we will be seeing in a lot more books to come.
Eight of Swords introduces readers to Warren Ritter, a mysterious tarot reader who used to live underground… figuratively. Ritter, not his real name, was once a member of a radical group accused of a deadly bombing, so for the past twenty years, he has taken a variety of identities, ending with his current persona as a local Bay Area fortune-teller.
Things are going along fine for Ritter until a young woman asks for a reading and to Ritter’s surprise, the cards tell a deadly and tragic story of things to come. This one event drags Ritter kicking and screaming into a murder mystery only he alone, with the help of the Tarot cards he once took far less seriously, can solve.
As Ritter closes in on the real killer, the real killer closes in on Ritter, escalating the story into more than just a page-turning murder mystery. Suspenseful and modern, Eight of Swords starts out with a loser of a man running from his past and ends up with a character we can not only root for, but even call a hero of sorts. Along the way, Ritter does some real soul-searching about his past and his future, especially when he learns a shocking secret about a very important young woman he left behind.
Eight of Swords is a fast and fun read and will no doubt leave readers hanging on edge for the next book in the “Tarot Card Murder” series. This isn’t groundbreaking fiction, and Dan Brown doesn’t have reason to worry about being bumped off the bestselling slot, but Skibbins is a delightfully entertaining mystery writer sure to garner many a new fan with this clever book and franchise concept.
Do I smell a movie deal in Ritter’s future? Only the cards can tell for sure.