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To Play the Fool Paperback – May 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
The second installment in her series featuring San Francisco police detective Kate Martinelli, King's latest mystery concerns the murder of a homeless man in Golden Gate Park.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
San Francisco detective Kate Martinelli strays from the stereotypical path of policewoman. As an openly lesbian and much-publicized heroine, Kate returns to her job facing a difficult case: street person Brother Erasmus, suspect in the murder of a homeless man, communicates entirely by way of literary quotations. The author presents her homeless characters with honesty and compassion, much in the way she describes the relationship between Kate and her lover or her police partner, Al. A fitting and well-done sequel to the award-winning A Grave Talent (LJ 1/93).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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First, the author seems to do her character development very, very gradually. So, while the Kate Martinelli character is a little more fleshed out now, than she was in the first book, the other characters remain question marks. I think the author gives her characters a lot of privacy, so to speak -- you have to make a bit of an investment, and stick around a while, before she will reveal her characters to you. So, at this point, I know Kate a little better than I did in the last book (but still don't know her that well), but Al and Lee are still mostly one-dimensional. I think it's an interesting writing style, actually.
Second, it's clear to me that if the author finds a certain subject matter interesting, she'll go into great depth with that subject -- three or four pages worth, without interruption. In the first book of the series, she gave us a detailed, somewhat lengthy art criticism of a character's paintings. In this book, she gave us a detailed academic discourse on the spiritual history and role of the Fool. I'll admit, I read politely through these passages, but they don't contribute anything to my experience. But, I like this author, and I pretty much give her leeway to go on tangents like that when she wants to -- no biggie!
I do find Laurie R King's writing to be competent and trustworthy, and find that the story unfolds in believable ways. (Some reviewers did not find this to be the case with this novel in particular, but I actually DID find the unfolding to be consistent and satisfying.)
Being a San Franciscan, I always appreciate when locales and culture are accurately portrayed for our quirky town and the depiction of the homeless park population, the Bay Area locations and "types" are still bang on even after 20 years.
I suggest with this series, that you read the books in order so that the main characters can evolve in their own lives and their relationship to one another because it is really a lovely blossoming in both our heroine and her partner. Besides, it's just the second book, so you should pick up A Grave Talent first.