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A Grave Talent (1993)

por Laurie R. King

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Kate Martinelli (1)

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Assigned, along with her new partner, to investigate the murders of three little girls, homicide detective Casey Martinelli closes in on a colony of mismatched people living in the wooded hills near San Francisco.
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The first Kate Martinelli mystery begins when she is newly promoted to Inspector and assigned to Al Hawkin as his new partner. Al is also new to the SFPD after a successful career in Los Angeles. He isn't pleased with a rookie partner who seems to be assigned to the new case mainly because she's a woman. The case is that of the murder of three children who are left near The Road which is part of a private compound filled with eccentric people near San Francisco.

As Al and Kate investigate the people who live along the Road to try to find out the connection to the deaths of the little girls from San Francisco, they discover that one of the residents is Vaun Adams who is a famous artist and also a convicted murderer. She was convicted of strangling the six-year-old girl she was babysitting when she was eighteen. She has served her sentence, built a new life, and just wants to be left alone. But the killer isn't finished with her.

The story was a fascinating. I enjoyed learning about Kate's past and how she met her partner Lee and learning how they are building their relationship. Having read later books in the series, I wasn't surprised to learn that Kate's partner Lee was another woman though it wasn't revealed until later in the book.

This was a good police procedural. I liked the way they tracked the murderer through thorough investigation. I thought the villain was super creepy and was pleased when our heroes were finally able to find evidence to arrest him for his many crimes.

I liked the way the story was told in sections and covered quite a bit of time. I liked seeing the growth of Al and Kate's partnership and Kate's growth as a person who comes to accept who she is. ( )
  kmartin802 | Mar 29, 2022 |
I like King's sentence-to-sentence writing style a lot, and there was a lot of this book that I thought was strong. It also kept me interested the whole way through, even though we pretty much have the mystery wrapped up by the two-thirds mark.

That said: my first gripe is that Hawkin is a terrible partner, and Kate shouldn't have had to shelter Vaun at her house. He was wrong and she was right. He investigated her private life and threatened to out her at work and held his authority over her to get her to do something unprofessional, and we're supposed to forgive him at the end and look forward to their next investigation together? I don't think so.

Also Bruckner's psychological "methods" would have felt more at home in one of Laurie King's Mary Russell books in the Victorian era than it did here in the nineties, as did some of the veneration of St. Vaun. They both felt a bit heightened and unrealistic, which didn't match the world King seemed to be aiming for. Also, please tell me-- were we supposed to find Bruckner creepy? I definitely did.

There were a few pacing issues as well-- the various focuses of the book (the community on Tyler's Road, the character analyses of Vaun and of Andy, the meat-and-potatoes investigating, and Kate's home life) were all basically interesting but did not seem correctly mixed and arranged in the book, so that the cumulative effect was of disjointedness. For example, I wish the people on the Road and their relationships, which were weighted very heavily in the early part of the book, had remained more of a throughline. Once the bridge broke and Kate had stranded herself alone on the hill with everyone, I really thought the rest of the story would focus on the community, and finding out out that it wasn't as idyllic as it seemed-- but then Kate and Hawkin helicopter out of there and it's pretty much left behind completely. So I suppose it turns out the only thing wrong with it was that one person who turned out to be a murderer lived there, not that the whole thing was founded based on a feudalistic concept and their landlord had an unprecedented amount of control over their lives and their access to the world? Tyler is basically a cult leader, but don't worry, he let some of them have telephones in the epilogue or whatever, so good for him I guess.

I'm also not sure King does justice to Kate as a lesbian character. I'm sure the lesbian "twist" read better in the nineties, and I'm happy that King decided to go for it, but reading it now, it felt unnecessarily coy the way it danced around the issue. The book didn't really address either Lee's insensitivity to Kate's fears of coming out, or the way Kate's wish to stay in the closet and to publically keep her distance from the "leather and chain" gay San Fran community and Lee's AIDS-stricken patients may have come from a place of internalized homophobia. Instead, the book struck a strange middle ground of trying to make Kate's lesbianism emphasized and central to the story while also not fully exploring it. I'll admit I was also worried to see how King would write lesbian characters after I read A Monstrous Regiment of Women lol. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
One of those stories that you find that you've held your breath for a long time and find relief when you finally sigh. Terrific. ( )
  Angel.Tatum.Craddock | Dec 17, 2020 |
A strong beginning for the series. Kate Martinelli is brought into the case involving serial murders of 6 year old girls. It all ties into the life of the artist Vaun and her stalker. Good characters, good development, looking forward to the next one. ( )
  bgknighton | Aug 23, 2020 |
I picked this up having finished Survival of the Fittest and feeling in the mood for another American police procedural. Which this is, and a good one. However, the epigraphs - from the detective works of Conan Doyle, Sayers, Chesterton, and others - place it in another tradition, as well. Sayers seems the most apposite, and is quoted within the dialogue as well as at the beginning of a section: an early signal that this book will be about more than the mystery, and indeed it delves deep into the havoc that a career in detection can wreak on a relationship. I wasn't entirely convinced by the murderer's motivation, but I don't think I was really reading this for the murderer. I liked the protagonist, Kate Martinelli, and I liked her rapport with her superior, Al.

Spoilers ahead:

I received this in a Bookcrossing sweepstake of lesbian fiction, so this came prespoiled for me, but it's worth noting that King goes to considerable lengths to conceal the gender of the protagonist's partner, Lee. I'm not sure how quick I'd have been to pick that up, unspoiled; but the fact that she keeps this going for a good chunk of the book further demonstrates how compartmentalised a detective's life can be, and the suffocating effect of the closet.
  KathleenJowitt | May 22, 2020 |
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Laurie R. Kingautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Bresnahan, AlyssaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Other sins only speak;
murder shrieks out.

—John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark;
and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales,
so is the other.

—Francis Bacon, "Of Death"
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for Noel

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The first small body was found by Tommy Chesler one cold and drizzling afternoon two weeks before Christmas.
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Assigned, along with her new partner, to investigate the murders of three little girls, homicide detective Casey Martinelli closes in on a colony of mismatched people living in the wooded hills near San Francisco.

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