Title: The Fool Card
Author: Bevan Atkinson
Published by: Electra Enterprises of San Francisco
Publication date: 15 July 2008
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) / Mystery & Thriller
“The Fool Card is the first in a series of mysteries linked to the tarot deck. In this first book, Xana Bard has chosen a quiet life—drinking tea, talking to her pets, reading, and conferring with the Pacific Ocean beyond her picture window. She calls the ocean Doctor P., and it’s cheaper than her therapist and maybe a little more helpful. She’s happy enough, until the night Thorne Ardall, shot while chasing his boss’s killer, crashes into her house. Using her tarot-trained intuition rather than her better judgment, Xana patches Thorne up and they agree to track down the murderer as a team.” – Synopsis taken from NetGalley.
This is the first book that I’ve picked up via NetGalley and it’s given me a nice, refreshing break from all things Black Library. I was attracted to the book for it’s interesting sounding description and the intriguing title; always having had an outside fascination with Tarot and all things ‘spiritual’ but little understanding of these things.
I was certainly not disappointed with this book but it did take me a little bit of getting used to the writing style and a bit more suspension of disbelief than I can usually muster; Xanas motivations for getting involved (a tarot reading) with a man that has been recently shot and crashes into her house seem a little bit flimsy but I ran with it regardless and was rewarded with a rather fun little romp around high-society San Francisco.
The main character, Xana, comes across as unsympathetic and at times callous, butting her nose into an unsavory business where she isn’t welcomed and I found myself questioning her motivations a few times only to recall that they weren’t the strongest element to the book. Yet, there is something instantly likeable about her as a character. The way her thoughts are expressed in The Fool Card are humorous and entertaining and she came across as very real. As a side character, Thorne is fairly decent but other than a man trying to ‘stay off the grid’ and him being the ‘Mr Muscle to Xana Ms Brain’ there isn’t much depth to him that doesn’t feel forced. I’m still trying to work out if this is a positive or not; not everyone can be deep and it’s refreshing to come across a couple of characters that know who they are and are comfortable with themselves; which is the impression that I got from Xana and Thorne. I am also overjoyed that the author didn’t throw them together in a romantic sub-plot; which would have ruined their enjoyable chemistry as a platonic, working duo.
The plot itself was enjoyable if a little straight-forward and direct – there are no real curve balls thrown at the reader to throw you off the scent and leave you guessing but the direct route is interesting enough to keep the pages turning until the mysteries conclusion. The sub-characters that centre around a family-tragedy, murder plot help to add a few layers to the intrigue and are well written and as equally well considered as the main two.
Bevan Atkinsons writing style is loose and casual which made the book very easy to pick up and read. At times the pacing was pretty break-neck speed that didn’t let up and seemed to bounce a little here and there, patched in with Xana’s (always right) intuition. It’s a decent debut novel and I urge picking it up if you’re after a quick, fun read. If you’re after something a bit more thoughtful and leaves you more to work out then maybe give this a skip for something a bit more in depth.