Monday, May 30, 2011

Occult mystery series -- this time tarot

Hanged Man
David Skibbens
St. Martin's Minotaur
ISBN: 0312377835
Publication Date: Apr 2008

A few weeks ago I read Murder in the 11th House by Mitchell Lewis and mentioned its similarities, in some ways to Skibbens' tarot series. In fact, I felt the need to revisit the Skibbens series. Both have mysteriously good looking, babe magnet middle aged occult operators who rely on their thinning charms, with complicated lives, families, and plenty of midlife crisis toys. There the similarities end.

Lewis' protagonist is a kind of fantasy, a barely disguised autobiographical astrologer who can tell you anything from a detailed chart and drives a fantasy, climate and scenery changing limo. Skibbens' guy is clearly fictional. He's a former Weather Underground fugitive hiding out in the persona of the tarot card reader, whose readings sometimes seem all too real. Long story short, while both are pretty fun reads, I think Skibbens writing is more interesting, his characters and dialogue better drawn and more amusing, and his background (Bay ares vs. Lewis' NYC) better drawn. And he drives a cool motorcycle.

Hanged Man, fourth in the Warren Ritter tarot series, features a tour of the SMBD (do I have to spell it out?) underworld, both creepy and kind of compelling. Personally I'll stick with the "vanilla" as one character describes the non-SMBD encounter but it makes for an interesting backdrop.

The first, Eight of Swords was very, very good. This one is still very readable but the plot a little thin, the characters could use a little more something, and I'd like to hear more about Weather. It is a kind of cozy despite the noiresque backdrop where everyone
(including the guy's shrink, girlfriend and all known relatives) gather for dinner and a few laughs as in any TV detective drama, a little silly.

No comments:

Post a Comment