I'm a re-reader. The books I most enjoy I try to return to every now and then. And this week I've returned to Tim Powers's remarkable modern fantasy novel, Last Call.
Published in 1992, Last Call (a card reference with a twist) is the story of a retired gambler who gets drawn back into the game by the discovery that the man who introduced him to poker understands the significance of tarot. More than that I cannot and should not say, as the novel has an intricately woven mystery plot which can be spoiled by almost any serious delving. I recommend it not only because Powers is one of the most skilled weird authors of the past twenty years, but because this is the rare novel by an erudite strange author who assumes that his audience is as versed in great literature (where I'm not quite up to his speed) and matters of interest to geeks (where I'm pretty close) as he is. Tarot, T.S. Eliot, the Fisher King, the biblical Nephilim, the round table, and the days when magic was treated by rules as complex as any modern science all figure into this book. And the mafia too. All leads up to a climax as shattering as that of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, only a week later you can remember what the big deal was about.
Lovers of High Geek such as Michael Flynn, Umberto Eco, and Thomas Pynchon, and lovers of low geek who troll the web for the best in proofs that we are ruled by a conspiracy or the stranger things out of Charles Fort, will deeply appreciate this work. This is the king of all geek novels, bar none.