How do you become the first man to win the Malice Domestic contest for Best Traditional Mystery? By creating the most untraditional traditional detective ever.
Most passers-by who bother to give Warren Ritter a second thought know that he’s the guy who does Tarot readings on a Berkeley street corner. They don’t know that his name isn’t Warren Ritter, that his involvement with the Weather Underground ended only when he faked his death 30 years ago, that he’s got several other identities in reserve just in case, that his fingerprints aren’t on file anywhere or that he’d like to keep it that way. But the whole house of cards threatens to come tumbling down the day Warren does a reading for Heather Wellington. Heather’s cards could hardly look bleaker, and sure enough, within minutes she’s been kidnapped. Even worse, her mother is murdered soon after she comes to Warren begging him for information. Once the cops find Warren’s business card in both Heather’s backpack and Louise Wellington’s handbag, they get very interested in him. Luckily for him, he’s resourceful and well-connected enough to give the law quite a run for its money, and maybe even deal with the news that he has a never-seen daughter who’s about to produce a grandchild.
The mystery is anemic, but Warren, who seems both superhuman and all too human, is a keeper worth a stronger case or ten.