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A Detective in Love: A Mystery Hardcover – December 1, 2002

4 customer reviews
Book 2 of 7 in the Harriet Martens Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

British author H.R.F. Keating has long been recognized for his willingness to experiment with the conventions of detective fiction. A number of his recent novels, for instance, have addressed the motives and lifestyles of his sleuths as much as they have crimes. He continues that pattern with A Detective in Love, in which Harriet Martens--the so-called Hard Detective--is undone by her passion for a colleague with whom she probes the slaying of curvaceous teenage tennis star Bubbles Xingara.

The "Brit with a Hit," as Bubbles's American fans know her, has been found on her Leven Vale estate, stabbed through the throat. Due to this victim's prominence and the shorthandedness of the local police, Detective Superintendent Martens is seconded from adjacent Birchester to take charge of the case. Her best suspect may be a "shambling mess of a man" given to exposing himself. Other likely murderers include Bubbles's secretary, a once-wealthy classmate involved with the decedent's stepfather; a French gangster whose affections Ms. Xingara too publicly rebuffed; and a computer geek who hoards Bubbles images from the Internet. As weeks pass without a breakthrough, however, Martens worries for her future with this investigation as well as her ability to resist Anselm Brent, a country constable of dubious talent, who nonetheless makes the hardened Harriet go all soft inside. Keating's persistent attention to his protagonist's sex life begins to grate, as his principal plot bounces repeatedly between hope and failure. But this novel--the second part of a trilogy, following The Hard Detective--compensates somewhat with a delightfully peculiar cast of secondary players and Martens's comical impatience toward everyone and everything around her, even her own media-made reputation. --J. Kingston Pierce

From Booklist

Keating, with more than 40 novels to his name, may be best known for his atmospheric mysteries starring Inspector Ghote of Bombay, but his fairly new series, starring "the Hard Detective," Harriet Martens of the Greater Birchester Police, has been gaining steady acclaim. Martens is a fascinating character, a combination of professional toughness and private vulnerability. Unlike many novelists who offer tough-talking, hard-living stereotypes of women detectives, especially women cops, Keating is able to achieve a complex, human characterization. In this latest Keating, Martens' hard-won professionalism and carefully constructed personal life are cracked open by a surprising love affair. The mystery itself centers on the high-profile murder of Bubbles Xingara, media darling, tennis star, and Britain's best hope at Wimbledon, on the grounds of her country estate. Martens falls madly in lust with a fellow officer, threatening both the investigation and her marriage. Well crafted and riveting. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312291434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312291433
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,719,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on January 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When beautiful tennis star Barbara (Bubbles) Xingara is found murdered, the rural police force calls in Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens for help. Harriet has earned a reputation as the 'hard detective,' but she falls fast for a younger Detective Inspector Brent. An affair would definitely complicate Harriet's marriage, not to mention both of their police careers, but she can hardly keep her hands to herself from the moment she first sees him. Fortunately, or unfortunately, all of the early leads generate nothing but trouble, giving Harriet and Brent time together to fuel the attraction.
After the strong THE HARD DETECTIVE, A DETECTIVE IN LOVE is something of a disappointment. Harriet's instant love is not exactly unbelievable, but it seems motivated by author H. R. F. Keating's desire to show how lust and love can strike instantly than by something coming from the characters themselves. Harriet's long lustful thoughts don't deliver enough detail to be titillating, but do distract from the mystery. Possibly this is just as well as the mystery seems disjointed rather than progressing in a story arc.
I've read enough Keating to look forward to his next novel, but this one is best for real fans.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Srdjan Pesic on June 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
H.R.F Keating is a grandmaster of English mystery writing, but never one of my favorites. Reginald Hill or Peter Lovesey are much more my cup of tea. Even so this is a horrid book.When I purchase a mystery novel, I expect a puzzle and procedural, not this tiresome diatribe on love and lust, Amor and Eros and other twaddle. It is impossible to concentrate on the crime, for all the boring, repetative nonsense about the lead detective Det. Superintendant Harriet Martens love troubles. And her gasbag of a husband, who cant say a simple sentence without sounding like a dictionary doesn't help.
Maddening book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MARTY on September 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The story could have been told in about 20-25 pages. But it is padded by the boringly repetitive musings of the Hard Detective about her infatuation with a fellow officer. And the story itself is simply a series of red herrings followed by the "solution" out of the blue. Mr. Keating should have been ashamed of himself for publishing this transparent moneymaker.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on December 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Barbara "Bubbles" Xingara is the media darling of the tennis world and is expected to win at Wimbledon, but she never gets the chance because somebody murders her on her own estate. Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens is known in the media as The Hard Detective because of her tough stance on criminals and because she never gives up until she catches the perpetrator she is after.
The Leven Vale police chief specifically requests that Harriet is assigned as the lead in the case. When she arrives on the crime scene she meets Detective Inspector Anselm Brent and immediately falls into lust. Harriet fights her feelings for the man while she is working on the case with him. This turns into a difficult scenario even for as gifted a person as The Hard Detective.
The use of the first person narrative allows the reader to feel the protagonist's emotions and this leads to readers empathizing with her struggle to be faithful to her husband. The who-done-it is solved by good old-fashioned police work but the heart of this tale lies with the internal battle Harriet wages to do what is right.
Harriet Klausner
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