A death by sexual asphyxia throws Berkeley tarot reader Warren Ritter and his offbeat friends (The Star, 2007, etc.) into the company of some even more offbeat suspects.
Friends don’t let friends rot in jail when they’re arrested for murder, and paraplegic computer hacker Sally McLaughlin is determined to wheel to the side of her buddy Thérèse de Farge, a professional dominatrix, when she’s arrested for climaxing a session with her client Greg Hawkins by choking him with a discipline collar. Even though he’s Sally’s lover, Warren’s not nearly so determined to help, especially since he seems to have his hands full keeping his dying mentor Phillip Letour’s 700-year-old Tarot deck out of the hands of the predatory Troy Baker. Soon enough, however, Warren has gone undercover as the world’s most reluctant dominant to find out more about Greg’s involvement in the Bay Area’s S&M lifestyle; Sally’s roommate, precocious teen Heather Talbridge, has gone undercover as a reporter to check out the competition for Hawkins Computer Defense Systems; and even Sally herself has gone undercover as a consultant for Greg’s widow Laura, who wants to memorialize her late husband by cracking his security codes. Skibbins leaps so lightly and matter-of-factly from one plotline to the other that a good time is had by all until the cops arrive to take the killer to jail.
More adventure than detection, but the cast of regulars is in fine fettle.