David Skibbins. Eight of Swords (2005) 261 pp.
Warren Ritter is a man of many secrets. He makes his living reading the tarot on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, but in the Sixties his name was Richard Green and he was a leader of the radical Weather Underground. He escaped his past by faking his death. Now, no one knows he is still alive—not the New York police, not the FBI, not even his family. And he is manic-depressive. His carefully constructed world starts to unravel after Heather Wellington, a young girl who had stopped at his table to have her cards read, is kidnapped. Then her mother is murdered and Warren becomes the prime suspect because he had been the last person to speak with both of them. With the help of a paraplegic computer hacker named Sally—who Warren is falling in love with—he becomes a reluctant detective in order to save Heather, and himself. This novel features many accurately detailed Berkeley and East Bay locations and was the winner of the 2004 Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Contest.