Excerpt from The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Art of Detection

A Novel of Suspense

by Laurie R. King

The Art of Detection
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 368 pages
    May 2007, 496 pages

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"I know, I see it all the time at Nora’s preschool."

"Still, he’s also into sports — he’s wants to try out for Little League next year. That’s where I was, throwing balls for the second-graders."

Al was enjoying his second trip through parenting, at the same time his grandchildren were coming along. He sounded more than happy about the whole thing.

"So, speaking of boys and their guns, what’s with this one up at Point Bonita?"

"Philip Gilbert, white male, fifty-three. And no guns there, not at first sight."

"But Mr. Gilbert didn’t just walk up there and die?"

"There’s a scalp wound, but the coroner says it doesn’t look massive enough to kill him."

"Coroner? Not ME?"

"Marin caught it and declared death, the Park people didn’t think they needed to call in our ME as well. Seemed to think Marin wouldn’t mind transporting the body to us."

Kate looked at the side of his face, but neither needed to say it: The San Francisco ME wasn’t going to be pleased with the arrangement. "So," she said, "the vic was shooting up out in the woods? Or maybe a little sex play that got rougher than he’d intended?"

"If so, he drove in wearing his pajamas, and barefoot. In January," Al added unnecessarily. "The rangers say he wasn’t a park resident and he wasn’t at either of the last two conferences held there. Once they have a picture they’ll take it around and ask if anyone knew him, but in the meantime, like I told you, they’re pretty sure he was dumped. No sign of the car DMV has registered to him, so I sent a uniform to drive past his home address, see if it’s there."

"But who’s got the case? And why isn’t it just Marin’s?"

"Interesting question. From the little I could get out of the Park investigator I talked to, they need to look at a satellite GPS to decide just what slice of the park the body’s in — if it’s a federal area, that’s one thing; if it’s found in a place that used to be owned by the state before the park was glued together, that’s another. I’d say most likely it’s up to the loudest voice. Which sounds like the Park Police supervisor. Who wants to give it to us."

Kate had been peripherally involved with the issue before, when it came to prosecuting in a park murder in the late nineties. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area — Ocean Beach, the Presidio, various forts, Crissy Field, and the lump of headland across the Golden Gate Bridge — was an anomaly on the face of the National Parks Service, the only national park located within the boundaries of a city. Some crimes were handled by the Park’s own Criminal Investigations Branch, located in the Presidio. Others, particularly the major crimes, were given over to other law enforcement entities.

Who got jurisdiction often depended on historical definitions: A major crime taking place in areas that had been under local control before the GGNRA would be handed to the local force; if that same crime took place in a part that had been an Army base, it might well go directly to the FBI. It was a constant headache, and although cooperative statements such as the recent Interagency Agreement went far to smooth things out, in practice the work just went ahead and got done by whoever got there first. Or, as Al said, who had the loudest voice.

Excerpted from 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.

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