All Tied Up, No Place to Go

Hanged Man
David Skibbins
Thomas Dunn Books, 2009

Hanged Man is the fourth book in David Skibbins’s Tarot Card mystery series. His lead character, Warren Ritter, is a former 60s radical who changed his name and went underground after an act of political rebellion went wrong. Warren, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, reads Tarot cards on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley for a living.

This outing marks a change in the series; specifically, a third person narrator rather than Warren’s first-person point of view. While not completely successful for me, the choice allows Skibbins to develop Warren’s paraplegic hacker girlfriend Sally, and the emancipated teenager Heather more fully, not to mention Ripley, Sally’s assistance/attack dog.

The mystery involves a professional dominatrix, an old friend of Sally’s, which leads to some naughty fun as Warren goes undercover as a “Master.” The primary mystery wasn’t that puzzling, but a secondary story line about Warren’s mentor and a strange set of Tarot cards is intriguing and keeps the ball moving. Warren, who considers himself a loner, is forced to face the connections he has forged, while the bondage angle makes him rethink his authority issues. Watching Warren comes to grips with the changes in his life and the truth of who he is makes for a compelling read.

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