Saturday, February 04, 2006

Book Review: "High Priestess" by David Skibbins

Warren Ritter returns in the sequel to “Eight Of Swords” and like any really good sequel, it is always better to have read the first book. I did and if you haven’t, you really should read it before you read this one because things will be ruined otherwise.

As Warren discovered, while one can have a life on the run, it really isn’t possible to escape everything from your past. Plastic surgery can change your appearance. But, you still have your memories. You also have your habits and eventually if you stay in one place too long, you will become known to folks that you thought were long gone from your life. You might even think that at least some of them are dead since it has been more than thirty years. Such is the case for Warren when a man calling himself Mr. Hightower sits down at his sidewalk tarot table. As their discussion turns, Warren realizes that Mr. Hightower knows all about Warren’s past and is more than willing to use it against him.

What Mr. Hightower really wants is Warren’s help. When you are the leader of a local Satanic Church, you know that law enforcement isn’t going to take you seriously. People in his church are dying in what appears to be nothing more than rather bizarre accidents. Those accidents, if they were accidents, don’t explain the death threats Church leadership has been receiving. Not only is the man calling himself Mr. Hightower a target, there are others. Because of past events (read Eight Of Swords) Mr. Hightower believes Warren can help and intends to disclose Warren’s past if he won’t.

Warren, along with strong political beliefs about the past as well as the state of America today, is just a bit bored as well. Things have just been a little too stable for him lately and the pressure of that stability is wearing on him. He is dating and trying very hard to get his psychological house of cards in order as well as resist the lure of running again. Hightower didn’t need blackmail—Warren would have done it for free. The fact that Hightower is also willing to pay him for his troubles is a nice bonus.

Warren agrees and soon starts asking questions in all the wrong places and finds himself in real trouble. But, this is Warren Ritter. He has a unique outlook on everything and there is a method to his madness. The reader knows that not only will he get out of it but that his solution in this fast paced cozy style read will not be ordinary.

As in the first novel, politics and the state of the country are constant background themes to the work. So too is the concept of evil and the forms it may take. Neither thematic backdrop, though always subtlety present, detracts from the main engrossing mystery. Instead, as in most good novels, such issues work to enhance character development and the read. Such is the case here, which builds upon a strong first book to provide another mighty good read.

High Priestess
By David Skibbins
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martins Minotaur)
ISBN# 0-312-35233-6

More next time and as always feel free to drop me a note here or at with your comments, observations, and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005