BookBrowse Reviews The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King

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The Art of Detection

A Novel of Suspense

by Laurie R. King

The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King X
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2007, 496 pages

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'Sometimes a mystery takes one's breath away with its impeccable, inexorable logic.'

From the book jacket: Kate Martinelli has seen her share of peculiar things as a San Francisco cop, but never anything quite like this: an ornate Victorian sitting room straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story – complete with violin, tobacco-filled Persian slipper, and gunshots in the wallpaper that spell out the initials of the late queen. Philip Gilbert was a true Holmes fanatic, from his antiquated décor to his vintage wardrobe. And no mere fan of fiction's great detective, but a leading expert with a collection of priceless memorabilia – a collection some would kill for.  And perhaps someone did: In his collection is a century-old manuscript purportedly written by Holmes himself – a manuscript that eerily echoes details of Gilbert's own murder.  Now, with the help of her partner, Al Hawkin, Kate must follow the convoluted trail of a killer – one who may have trained at the feet of the greatest mind of all times.

Comment: Some readers know Laurie R King best as the author of the historical mystery series set in the early 20th century (starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice, 1994), in which Mary Russell teams up with Sherlock Holmes to solve mysteries, first as his apprentice, then as his partner in (solving) crime, and later as his wife.  Others know King for her police procedurals starring Kate Martinelli  (starting with A Grave Talent, 1993) set in modern-day San Francisco.  In The Art of Detection (her first Kate Martinelli mystery for six years),  King gets as close as she can to melding the two series, considering the geographical and time gap between them!

So far, Martinelli has encountered a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers and a manifestation of the goddess Kali. Now she takes on the mystery of a dead Holmes fanatic in this very satisfying 5th in the series, which has the added advantage of showcasing King's encyclopedic knowledge of all things Holmes.

Kate Martinelli series:

  • A Grave Talent (1993)
  • To Play the Fool (1995)
  • With Child (1996)
  • Night Work (2000)
  • The Art of Detection (2006)

Mary Russell series:

  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994)
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995)
  • A Letter of Mary (1996)
  • The Moor (1998)
  • O Jerusalem (1999)
  • Justice Hall (2002)
  • The Game (2004)
  • Locked Rooms (2005)

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in June 2006, and has been updated for the June 2007 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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