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High Priestess by David Skibbins

High Priestess (2006)

by David Skibbins

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Second of Tarot Card Mysteries
  scarycreek | Mar 3, 2019 |
Further adventures of Warren Ritter, the tarot card reader and 60s radical fugitive. In this book he learns a lot more about himself and his past than he had thought possible. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
First Line: When was he going to get here?

The power of this mystery series lies in its main character: "Warren Ritter", a 60s radical who's been hiding from the law for over thirty years. Back in the 70s, he managed to divert some money into a tidy Microsoft nest egg, and now he has a table at Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley, California, where he reads tarot cards for enjoyment.

When a beardless Santa-like man approaches Warren and uses bribery and a threat to expose his true identity, Ritter resists being hired, but not for long. The man is the leader of a satanic cult and the twin brother of a woman who had a profound impact on Warren's life. Being able to meet Her again has Warren accepting, and when he begins to investigate, the body count starts to rise.

One thing that makes Warren an interesting character is that he's bipolar and has found a way to cope with the highs and lows. (And he's very quick to say that his coping mechanism isn't for anyone else but him.) He's also a child of his times. If you didn't grow up during the 60s, Warren won't hold any nostalgic appeal for you, but I smiled with recognition whenever he would say something like this:

" Labor Day, the first Monday in September; it shouldn't be a holiday, it should be a wake. The international megacorporations have gutted the labor movement. These days the holiday is celebrated by running down to the big sale at Target to stock up on designer jeans stitched together by children working twelve hours a day in Southeast Asia."

The mystery in High Priestess is an involving one that takes both Warren and the reader deep into his history and the reasons why he is hiding from the law. His investigation also endangers the relationship he's been working on with Sally. Skibbins' series has strong characterizations and refreshing originality. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. ( )
  cathyskye | Apr 25, 2010 |
This is Skibbins second book in the Tarot Card Mystery series and in it we follow Warren Ritter once again as he is drawn into yet another murder mystery where he is compelled to play the sleuth and find out who done it...Ritter is a reluctant hero, which seems to be because he is compelled to do the right thing, even when he really doesn't want to. Warren Ritter, as it turns out, is rather an interesting and compelling character because he is not perfect...he's led a messed up life, he's got relationship problems, he's manic depressive and someone always seems out to frame him for murder!

The High Priestess brings back nearly all the characters from the first book (you know...the one's that didn't die) and while I was happy about that, I was unhappy that they were given pretty short shrift, all pretty much making token appearances and/or being peripheral characters. Sally isn't developed much more in this volume than she was in the first and Heather is just a sputter in the darkness of this story. What could be interesting and helpful characters are barely there, and I found that disappointing. The bike cop friend was the most additionally developed secondary character from the first novel, and I rather liked where Skibbins was taking that...it should be fun to see where it all goes. Max, the paranoid investigator plays a minor role as well...for Skibbins to bring them back, I assume they will be around for the long haul...but it's disappointing to see the villains get more page count than the secondary players who will be a staple for the series. I assume that Skibbins is saving their father development for future novels and the they way they were written in High Priestess, the villains (most anyway) could be back again down the line, which would make an interesting twist to future books in this series!

Aside from my own personal desire to see more development of the secondary characters, my main "problem" with High Priestess is that I figured out who done it WAY before the Warren even had an inkling...it was too easy...I don't know that it was possible to make it less obvious and the details that Skibbins fleshed out the bones of the plot with were both interesting and entertaining (while also giving us a more complete look at Ritter's past, which helps him become more endearing to the reader, I think) and makes the too easy to figure out villain somewhat (but not totally) forgivable. I did particularly enjoy the ending...I thought it might go slightly differently, but thought it was just perfect...something I think we might all want to do, given the opportunity. Overall, it was slightly disappointing because it was so easy to solve...but that won't put me off wanting to read a future installment...I like Warren and would be willing to forgive the easy to solve plot this time around for a chance to see both Warren and the other characters given more life! I give it a B-...good, but had potential to be so much better! ( )
1 vote the_hag | Jan 22, 2008 |
Besides the first chapter, not a whole lot of references to Tarot, but a good read non the less. ( )
1 vote HRC0826 | Mar 12, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312352336, Hardcover)

When Warren Ritter, by amazing luck, escaped the Greenwich Village explosion that brought down a house and several of his colleagues in the anti-Vietnam War movement, he was able to evade everyone who knew him and begin a new and very different life. Decades later, he is living in Berkeley, California, and is known by most of his few acquaintances as "that guy who has the street tarot stand on weekends." That's exactly what Warren wants. It's not, however, always what he gets.

When an old man approaches his table and waves a large sum of money at him for some service, Warren refuses before even asking what the job is. But the man calls him by his real name, forcing him to reconsider. Warren knows the man; he's the twin brother of a woman whom Warren remembers as always stirring up trouble.

The old man and his sister preside over the "Church of Satan." Two church members have been murdered in what were made to look like accidents, and the man is certain that he and his sister are next. He wants Warren to find the killer, and with the threat of exposure, Warren must comply.

The reluctant hero soon finds himself entangled in a situation that not only threatens the church members, but could spell death for Warren himself. High Priestess, the second in this wildly original and entertaining series, further reveals the secrets of Warren's past and what he'll do to keep them hidden.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

'High Priestess' features the return of the unlikely sleuth, Warren Ritter, a sceptical tarot card reader on the streets of Berkeley.

» see all 2 descriptions

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