Excerpt of The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
(Page 3 of 4)
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Kate smiled, and raised a hand to wave to another neighbor. She and Lee had
lived in the Noe Valley neighborhood for nearly eight years, and never had a
place felt more like home. Kate rarely thought anymore about the magnificent
house on tony Russian Hill where they had once lived, cop and therapist rubbing
shoulders with the citys cream of socialites and politicos. That place had been
Lees, an inheritance from her overbearing and disapproving mother, and had
looked out on two incomparable bridges, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, and
Mount Tamalpais in the background. When Lee finally decided to put the house on
the market, it had sold before the print was dry on the advertisement, for more
money than Kate could envision.
They had traded the gorgeous, intricately constructed Arts and Crafts-style
house with the million-dollar view for a tumbledown Victorian whose chief virtue
in their eyes was also, as far as the listing agent was concerned, its chief
drawback: The elderly couple who had lived in the house all the five decades of
their married life, unwilling to abandon the upper levels but increasingly
unable to negotiate the stairs, had hacked up the back rooms and put in a tiny
Kate turned to gaze affectionately at the house. Most buyers would have been
daunted by the enormous expense of ripping out the mechanism and restoring the
rooms to their previous condition, but for Kate, the one-person elevator had
been her personal deciding factor in its favor: Lee would never have agreed to
its installation, but if it was here anyway, well, why not make use of it? The
personal lift, just large enough for the wheelchair during Lees bad times, was
an unvoiced recognition that the effects of the bullet through Lees spine,
twelve years before, would never completely leave them; it had made their lives
The enormous price brought by the Russian Hill house had enabled them to make
other renovations, from new carpeting and fresh paint to a complete rebuilding
of the kitchen. Lee had also set up her therapy rooms in the front and was
seeing clients again.
Most of all, however, what they had gained with the move was a thing that
neither had known they needed: a community. They had traded socialites for
Socialists, politicos for legal-aid lawyers, middle-aged white faces for a
rainbow coalition of young families. Of the seven people Kate saw as she passed
down the front walk that morning, she knew five of them by name, and had eaten
dinner with three of those. Two doors down lived Noras best friend, an
eight-year-old girl from China, the oldest of three multiracial children adopted
by a bank manager and his aromatherapist wife. Lees long-time caregiver lived
with his new family three blocks away. The woman in the big corner house had
recently opened up a Montessori-style child-care facility, which meant that Nora
could spend two afternoons a week with her friends. Typically, last summer the
neighborhood association had voted to close the street one Sunday so everyone
could hold a block party.
Small-town life in the big city.
Als car appeared around the corner. Kate waved one last time, to the woman she
sometimes went jogging with (who this morning was out running with her black Lab
instead), tossed her coat and briefcase into the backseat, and hopped in beside
"Hows the kid?" he asked before her buckle had latched.
"Perfect, as always. And yours?"
"Theyre all fine. Jules has a major crush, I quote, on her lab partner, Maya is
thinking about a summer camp run entirely in Latin, and Daniel has discovered
"Oh, Jani must be pleased about that."
"The genetic inclination of boys, I suppose, to make weapons out of anything.
Sticks, Legos, organic vegetarian hot dogs."
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King Copyright © 2006 by Laurie R.
King. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.