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The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli) Mass Market Paperback – May 29, 2007
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Laurie King is well versed in Sherlockiana, as she has so eminently demonstrated in her Mary Russell series, and she's more than adept at injecting The Art of Detection with authentic Holmesian atmosphere. My favorite quote from this novel is Leonora's description of Holmes as "a self-medicating bipolar with obsessive-compulsive tendencies." As the linchpin around which the present crime is built, King has composed and embedded a short story, involving an eerily similar murder set in 1920's SF and solved by Sherlock Holmes; masterfully, she's caught the essence of Conan Doyle's style. When I first realized that I was expected to read this story as well as the one about Kate, I wasn't pleased, but within a couple of pages, was hooked.
Congratulations to King for her fresh plot and her skills at layering mystery upon mystery. Ever since I read her debut novel, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, in 1994, she's been on my top ten list of favorite authors.
San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes, both in the mysteriously discovered Sherlockian draft of a story and in the Sherlock house-museum and its dining companions.
Philip Gilbert, who is a dealer of Doyle/Sherlock Holmes collectibles, is found dead in a military bunker near a fort near the San Francisco Bay. Gilbert was the head of a Sherlockian Dining Club, and most of his home is submersed in Holmes memorabilia in a Victorian era homes. Suspects abound in this mystery, and in the story within a story.
As mentioned, "The Art of Detection" is not the best of the Martinelli series; however, any Laurie King work is a delight to read. As several others have already mentioned, the pace of the book is inconsistent and drags in spots early and in the middle especially. The book is a bit cerebral due to the subject matter and the story within the story which interrupts the natural flow of the book. Additionally, for some readers, the lesbian/ gay material found in the book may put them off a bit. Even the subplot of discovered "Sherlockian" story revolves around a WWI soldier and his gay or transgendered partner certainly may not have been to the taste of some readers. Regardless, King dealt with the subject matter tastefully, and although slow in spots, "The Art of Detection" is an engrossing and interesting read. Laurie King is a wonderful story teller, a masterful craftsman, and one of the best modern writers I have read. I do recommend any of her books to you; however, do read each series in order to get the greatest impact.
Both these books were well written, and are murder mysteries with Sherlock Holmes central to the story. This one, however, takes place in the present day and was not the escape reading I was angling for, since the sub-theme of gay marriage was one that, for me at least, required thought. There was an attempt to portray not only the normalcy of gay marriage but also an effort to evoke compassion for the need of it. I can easily buy the second point without a sales job and I doubt I'll ever be convinced of the former. Maybe I'm just a heterosexual, and can't walk far enough in someone else's shoes to shake the lens of my own perspective. I do read books to understand the black standpoint, even though I'm white, and I would be willing to do the same to understand gays. I guess I just didn't appreciate getting immersed in a rare-for-me murder mystery only to find out unwittingly that there was completely another agenda. For this, I demote the book to three stars.
Webster's original definition of marriage is as follows: "Marriage. The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God Himself." The new definition of marriage in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary includes: "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage." I'm not prepared to say whether or not God instituted this Himself as well, but it doesn't hold the obvious procreation purposes in its favor. Nonetheless, it is in our lexicon, as well as present among friends of ours that we cannot help but love. But I love people that I don't judge and I also love people that I don't necessarily endorse what they do.
Maybe I was supposed to expect this theme as inevitable in a mystery taking place in San Francisco? I would rather be deliberating juicy bits of extraneous evidence threading through an old fashioned detective story! Feeling denied my fix, I may be reading another book by this author sooner than I thought, that is, after determining that its twist is Sherlockian... only.
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This is the only book I read in the series and I probably won’t read any more but it was a good...Read more