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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Not Mary Russell - but still worth reading!

A Grave Talent - Laurie R. King

This review was originally posted on amazon on June 13, 2012:


***Plot Summary***

This is the first book in the Kate Martinelli series, set in San Francisco. When a third child ends up a victim of a homicide, Kate, newly promoted, is called into the investigation with her partner, Al. The bodies of the victims are found off of The Road, a commune-like place established by a wealthy, if somewhat eccentric, San Francisco resident. As the clues pile up, suspicion falls upon an artist who has been released from prison after she was convicted of the strangling death of a child as a teenaged girl. Kate and Al must sort through the clues and misdirections to find the truth about the murders, past and present.


Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Laurie King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, which I recommend over this modern police procedural. It is not that I didn't enjoy this book, because it was a well-written, serviceable mystery, but the Mary Russell books are truly excellent. The subject matter of this book is disturbing, but the deaths of the children take place largely off-screen.

Laurie King excels at characterizations, and this book is no exception. Kate - or Casey as she is known for most of this book - is a fascinating, complete character. She behaves in ways that are consistent, and her compassion and integrity are very convincing.

If this book has a weakness, it is a little bit slow. Because it is the beginning of a series, Ms. King spends a lot of time introducing her characters. This slows down the action somewhat, and the first part of the book drags a bit, in my opinion. In addition, some of the psychological aspects of the book aren't terribly convincing.

Overall, I'd give it between 3 and 4 stars - an engaging read, but not extraordinary. The author is capable of more, but this one didn't disappoint.