The bipolar tarot card reader Warren Ritter returns in another installment of this enjoyable series. Warren is trying to change himself and settle down and yet longs for his old life back. A life where he thought he had things under control. Having control of one’s own life is an illusion for many if not all as Warren is told early on in this novel.


There are those who seek control or to surrender control in their sexual lives. They become part of the BDSM lifestyle and incorporate the idea of control into their sexual lives. It is a lifestyle far removed from his outdoor tarot reading at the corner of Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley, California and something Warren knows absolutely nothing about.


That changes when his lover and computer expert, Sally McLaughlin, asks for his help. A paraplegic, Sally never asks for help. This time she does because her friend Therese has been arrested for murder. Therese is a professional dominatrix and a client of her has died. The evidence implicates Therese. Sally feels that she owes Theresa in so many ways. Once Vera, Therese’s personal live in submissive, tells all to Sally there isn’t anyone or anything that is going to stop Sally from proving Therese innocent.


Warren has been involved in three murder cases recently and twice has been the subject of police manhunts because of those murder cases. His initial reaction is to say no and his reaction is certainly understandable. Still, as readers expect, he eventually comes around and offers his help. To do so, he must immerse himself in the lifestyle of BDSM and must receive a crash course in the same from Vera.


Not to be left out, Heather, jumps in with both feet and business attire to work undercover on the case. Sally, Heather and Warren bumble and stumble their way through the undercover assignments with Warren finding out far more about himself than anything else.


Told through the shifting pov of all three characters, the novel chronicles an alternative lifestyle not familiar to many readers and a hunt for a killer. This forth installment of the series tackles a subject with dignity and class that could be controversial for some readers. Various aspects of the life style are discussed in depth and with respect. This is not a book designed to titillate or arouse and the story elements are not gratuitous. Instead, much like secondary characters, this area is explored and explained but never allowed to take over the story.


The BDSM angle is just another point of investigation to work the case and is treated as such in a mature fashion. So too is the main character of Warren Ritter who continues to evolve and change as he attempts to normalize an often chaotic life. Whether he is controlling his daily meds to treat his disease, his emotional reactions to the undercover work, or his control of his natural fleeing response to stress, the character is striving hard to become one again with a world that he tried to distance himself from for so many years.


The result is another good novel in the series. These are not run of the mill characters and this certainly has not been a run of the mill series. In this day of cookie cutter books put out by publishers who often moan that there isn’t anything different and then do nothing to encourage diversity in reading material, it is a good thing to read another novel in a series that has been good and different from the beginning.


 The Hanged Man: A Tarot Card Mystery

David Skibbins

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Minotaur

August 2008

ISBN# 0-312-37783-5



240 Pages



Review copy provided directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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