The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli Series #5)

The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli Series #5)

by Laurie R. King

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The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli Series #5) by Laurie R. King

In this thrilling new crime novel that ingeniously bridges Laurie R. King’s Edgar and Creasey Awards—winning Kate Martinelli series and her bestselling series starring Mary Russell, San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes–in a spellbinding dual mystery that could come only from the “intelligent, witty, and complex” mind of New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King….

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553902617
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/30/2006
Series: Kate Martinelli Series , #5
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 224,643
File size: 647 KB

About the Author

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris, and the acclaimed A Darker Place, Folly, and Keeping Watch. She lives in Northern California.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Earlier that morning, the call had come while Inspector Kate Martinelli of the San Francisco Police Department was in the middle of a highly volatile negotiation.

"I'll hurt myself," the person on the other side of the room threatened.

"Now, that's no good." Kate's response employed the voice of patient reason that she had clung to for the last few minutes, as she desperately wished that the official negotiator would return and take command.

"Yes it is good." Her opponent saw with crystal clarity that self-destruction was a powerful weapon against Kate.

"Now, think about it, sweetie. If you hurt yourself, it's going to hurt."

The mop of curly yellow hair went still as the green eyes narrowed in thought, and Kate's soul contracted with the weird mixture of stifled laughter and heart-wrenching submission that had welled up inside ten thousand times over the past three years and ten months: The child was so like her mother--her looks, her intelligence, her innate sensitivity--she might have been a clone. Kate pushed the sensation away from her throat and said, still reasonable, "We'd all be sad if you were hurt, but you would be the one that was hurting. Now, if you let me lift you down from there, we'll talk about whether you're old enough and careful enough to play with those things."

"I'm careful," the child insisted.

"You come down, and then we'll talk about it," Kate repeated. A good negotiator only retreated so far, then stood firm.

It worked. Nora's chubby little arms went out and Kate moved quickly forward before her daughter tumbled off the high shelf. The arms clung to her fiercely, giving lie to the small person's declaration of fearlessness; Kate's arms clung just as hard.

Then she set the child firmly down and bent to look directly into those large, bright eyes, arranging her face so she would look very serious. "Nora, you must never do that again. It really would make me very, very sad if you hurt yourself falling down."

"And Mamalee."

"Yes, and Mama Lee, too." In fact, Kate was wondering if it might even be possible to negotiate her way into an agreement with Nora that Lee not be told about this little episode, but voices in the hallway and the sounds of the front door, followed by the approach of Lee's uneven footsteps, told her that it wasn't going to happen.

And indeed, the moment Lee cleared the doorway Nora popped out from behind Kate and informed her mother, "I climbed up high and Mamakay said that if I comed down we'd talk about if I could play with the dollies."

"I had to pee," Kate explained guiltily. "Thirty seconds, and when I came out the little monkey was up on the sideboard."

There ensued a protracted discussion as to the nature of trust, which was Lee's current teaching concept, and Kate had to admit, the child seemed to follow most of what her PhD, psychotherapist mother had to say on the matter. After she'd put her two cents' worth in, telling Lee about Nora's willingness to harm herself if it got her the delicate Russian nesting dolls, the discussion turned to the evils of blackmail. That, however, seemed to exhaust the child's patience, and she interrupted to demand that she be given the dolls.

"Not today," Lee said firmly. And over the protest, she explained, "If you hadn't climbed up high after them, if you'd just asked us about it, we might have said yes. But because you didn't, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow."

It was scary, Kate reflected not for the first time, how reasonable the child was: She pouted for a count of five, then allowed Lee to take her hand and lead her to the kitchen for a discussion of the weekend itinerary. Kate watched the two blond heads, the two slim bodies, the two sets of unreliable legs--one pair made so by youth, the other by a bullet--as her partner and their daughter settled in to discuss the relative lunchtime merits of turkey versus peanut butter.

Only then did she remember the phone call that she'd been on her way to answer when she'd glanced up to see the little body clambering high above the hardwood floor. She went over and punched the playback on the machine, and heard the dispatcher ask for her to call back, then add that she was going to call Al Hawkin as well. Kate didn't bother calling Ops, just hit Al's number on the speed dial. From the sound of the background noise when he picked up, he was in the car.


"Hey, Al," she said. "What did the Ops center want?"

"There's a body in the park--but it's the other side of the bridge."

"In Marin? So why call us?"

"Jurisdiction over there's an absolute bitch, but the vic lives over here and it looks like the park's just the dump site. So until we find the murder site, the Park Police investigator, and his supervisor, thought we should be brought in early, in case it ends up in our hands. They've already called our Crime Scene out for the site."

"Marin's going to have a fit."

"Our side's going to have the fit. I'd say, if you're doing anything, don't break up your Saturday."

"No, I should come if you're going, and I think Lee's finished with her clients for the day. Let me just check with her."

"Why don't you call me if you don't want me to come by? I'm about twenty minutes out." Which meant he'd not been home when he got the call--he lived about an hour south of the city, but knowing Al, he had his full kit with him wherever he'd been, briefcase, forms, gun.

"Will do. Do you want anything to eat?"

"Jani and I had a big breakfast, so no thanks."

"Twenty minutes."

"Oh, and Kate? The guy said to wear sturdy shoes and a warm coat."

"Thanks for the warning."

Lee scowled at the news that Kate would be leaving, but she'd known that Kate was on call, and she'd been with Kate long enough to know that sometimes life came first, and sometimes death did.

"Can you call if you're not going to be home for dinner? I told Nora we'd make pizza."

Nora was neatly distracted from the disappointment of Kate's departure by the reminder. "Yay, pizza!" she cried with a jubilant dance.

"It should be fine, it may not even be our case, depending on how the lines are drawn on jurisdiction, but the d.b. lived here, so they offered us a look-in."

"Oh, what a treat," Lee said dryly.

"What's a deebee?" Nora piped up.

Kate gave her partner an apologetic glance and opened her mouth to try for an explanation about dead bodies that would satisfy the child without planting macabre images in her impressionable mind, but Lee had already begun with, "Well, you see, sweetheart . . ." Kate slipped away, letting Lee deal with that particular matter.

Seventeen minutes later, Kate was out in front of the house, waiting for Al Hawkin's car to round the corner. A neighbor came along the sidewalk at a snail's pace, a dog leash in one hand and a toddler's hand in the other. She greeted Kate, reminding Kate of the planning meeting the following week at the preschool, inquiring about the acupuncturist Lee had mentioned a while ago, and tossing out ideas for the upcoming street fair. The entire conversation was held with the woman moving slowly past, never quite coming to a halt while dog and toddler explored the street; the trio continued at the same pace until the corner, when they turned toward the park.

Kate smiled, and raised a hand to wave to another neighbor. She and Lee had lived in the Noe Valley neighborhood for nearly eight years, and never had a place felt more like home. Kate rarely thought anymore about the magnificent house on tony Russian Hill where they had once lived, cop and therapist rubbing shoulders with the city's cream of socialites and politicos. That place had been Lee's, an inheritance from her overbearing and disapproving mother, and had looked out on two incomparable bridges, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, and Mount Tamalpais in the background. When Lee finally decided to put the house on the market, it had sold before the print was dry on the advertisement, for more money than Kate could envision.

They had traded the gorgeous, intricately constructed Arts and Crafts-style house with the million-dollar view for a tumbledown Victorian whose chief virtue in their eyes was also, as far as the listing agent was concerned, its chief drawback: The elderly couple who had lived in the house all the five decades of their married life, unwilling to abandon the upper levels but increasingly unable to negotiate the stairs, had hacked up the back rooms and put in a tiny elevator.

Kate turned to gaze affectionately at the house. Most buyers would have been daunted by the enormous expense of ripping out the mechanism and restoring the rooms to their previous condition, but for Kate, the one-person elevator had been her personal deciding factor in its favor: Lee would never have agreed to its installation, but if it was here anyway, well, why not make use of it? The personal lift, just large enough for the wheelchair during Lee's bad times, was an unvoiced recognition that the effects of the bullet through Lee's spine, twelve years before, would never completely leave them; it had made their lives infinitely simpler.

The enormous price brought by the Russian Hill house had enabled them to make other renovations, from new carpeting and fresh paint to a complete rebuilding of the kitchen. Lee had also set up her therapy rooms in the front and was seeing clients again.

Most of all, however, what they had gained with the move was a thing that neither had known they needed: a community. They had traded socialites for Socialists, politicos for legal-aid lawyers, middle-aged white faces for a rainbow coalition of young families. Of the seven people Kate saw as she passed down the front walk that morning, she knew five of them by name, and had eaten dinner with three of those. Two doors down lived Nora's best friend, an eight-year-old girl from China, the oldest of three multiracial children adopted by a bank manager and his aromatherapist wife. Lee's long-time caregiver lived with his new family three blocks away. The woman in the big corner house had recently opened up a Montessori-style child-care facility, which meant that Nora could spend two afternoons a week with her friends. Typically, last summer the neighborhood association had voted to close the street one Sunday so everyone could hold a block party.

Small-town life in the big city.

Al's car appeared around the corner. Kate waved one last time, to the woman she sometimes went jogging with (who this morning was out running with her black Lab instead), tossed her coat and briefcase into the backseat, and hopped in beside him.

"How's the kid?" he asked before her buckle had latched.

"Perfect, as always. And yours?"

"They're all fine. Jules has a major crush, I quote, on her lab partner, Maya is thinking about a summer camp run entirely in Latin, and Daniel has discovered guns."

"Oh, Jani must be pleased about that."

"The genetic inclination of boys, I suppose, to make weapons out of anything. Sticks, Legos, organic vegetarian hot dogs."

"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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli Series #5) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fans of Laurie R King should cheer for this long-awaited Kate Martinelli book. Once again, King has captured the reality of police investigation: sometimes drudgery, sometimes frustrating but always necessary. In this book (set in modern San Francisco) King has seamlessly woven threads from her marvelous Mary Russell series into the Martinelli mystery. The murder of dedicated Sherlockian Philip Gilbert has Kate (and partner Al Hawkin) investigating not only all over San Francisco proper, but in the Marin headlands as well. In the course of the investigation an old manuscript surfaces: collector Gilbert thought it an original Conan Doyle story of Holmes in San Francisco. The release of this manuscript could turn the literary world on it¿s ear if authentic. Is it motive enough for murder? The motive question gets answered handily, The authenticity one does not. Fortunately, no fan of the Russell series needs it to be. One page into the manuscript tells us all we need to know about its origins. King has again presented us with honest, human three-dimensional characters with real lives, real concerns and real joys. Run, don¿t walk, to the bookstore for this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
we are NOT evil! Have you not learned anything?! Your the evi one! As soon as your done with bloodclan youll target every othrr clan just so others can see your powerful! But your not! This is useless and stupid!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in silently, peering around and asks "This is the detective agenecy, correct?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge Laurie R. King fan, I enjoyed this book, though it wasn't as good as her others, probably because it didn't flow as smoothly. I normally give King's novels a 4.5-5 rating. I'd give this 3.5-4. IF you've read other books in the Karte Martinelli series, you will probably enjoy this one. If you haven't, I would recommend starting with the first book in the series, "A Grave Talent." IF you are a Sherlock Holmes purist, you might not like this, because King introduces a previously unknown manuscript that may or may not expand on the Holmes legend. Otherwise, she does stick to the "facts" in Holmes matters. If you read Sherlock Holmes stories, but aren't a purist, you might find this intriguing. IF you don't like reading about LGBT characters and lifestyles, you won't like this. IF you're looking for a "cozy," don't pick this. King's books are intelligent, creative, well researched, well written, with good character depth. There is minimal sex, swearing, or gore. Her character development in this book is weak, relying more on readers' knowledge of the characters from previous books in the series. The plot involves a completely separate mystery within the primary mystery. The mysteries are intriguing and the detective work realistic. The passages about the second mystery are long, which is why the book doesn't flow as smoothly as most King novels. JB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A literary device i care for a story within a story. This therefore has three mysteries going present a past mystery and a third story about the doyle manuscript plus the personal family
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
interesting twist on Sherlock Holmes legends. Well written as are all of her books..
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in this mystery series are so fully developed that following them is part of the pleasure of reading these books, but this plot would be engaging even for those who aren't regular readers of the series. Kate, a detective in San Francisco, is a likable protagonist investigating the mysterious death of a man who was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. The death seems to parallel that of a character in a manuscript that just might be a newly-found Conan Doyle story. King skillfjully weaves many mysteries together and brings them all together in a satisfying conclusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
... her protagonist's personal life is both distracting and unrealistic. If you've read any of this series, you know that Kate'sworld is almost entirely composed of gay and otherwise oddly blended groups of people. Even in San Fran, I find it very unlikely that everyone, especially in a police department, is gay. And when she does occasionally have a more usual pairing of characters, she usually paints them as "wrong"in some way. I find her obvious bias offensive. And the idea that Doyle would write sympathetically about a transvestite is simply ludicrous. She herself provides all the reasons that it is not plausible.
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ilovemy3cs More than 1 year ago
A possible Conan Doyle manuscript becomes the center of this modern day murder mystery. I would have to say the story in the manuscript held my attention more than the murder the book was actually about, but in all I found the story entertaining and worth the time it took to read. This was my first Laurie King book and I am likely to pick up another.
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KrisPA More than 1 year ago
In order to enjoy this (last?) Kate Martinelli novel, you have to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes or at least familiar with the Holmes mysteries. I am neither, and did not enjoy this novel at all. It's ironic because in my reviews of her other books I complained that she ended the novels too abruptly and didn't provide more comprehensive conclusions. This novel has a very gradual, long ending that wraps everything up very neatly which is funny because I wanted this book to end more quickly! I just couldn't get into this book. It moved way too slowly until I didn't care who "did it" and almost skipped to the end so I could be done with it. The author is obviously a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Her interest in Sherlock Holmes was a detriment to the book because the solving of the crime took a backseat to an exploration of the Sherlock Holmes world ("Sherlockians"). The mysterious novella that may have been written by Doyle did play a part in solving the mystery, but did she have to literally include the text of this novella within the pages of her novel? I skipped those chapters because I didn't think reading it would be important, and it isn't (so skip it if you want to). Once fully revealed, the plot itself (the reason for the murder) was boringly mundane and disappointing. And the very end just didn't work for me either.(SPOILER--this has nothing to do with the mystery of the novel but with the lives of Lee and Kate, but maybe you'll want to be surprised. But if you watch the news, and know anything about San Francisco, you won't be surprised. I sure wasn't). During the novel (or the series of novels) there are no mentions (or rarely) of gay rights or that sort of thing. Lee and Kate are a couple and consider themselves married, and I accept that and don't think anything else about it. So at the end of this novel when they go to city hall to be legally married, it was kind of anti-climatic and weird. I felt that way for many reasons, one of which is I don't feel particularly close to the main characters and while I want good things to happen to them, I won't miss them now that I am done with the series (and I didn't like any of the books enough to want to read them again), another reason I felt this way is because the book was published in 2006 and the legalization of marriage (and undoing of that by CA voters) is kinda old news and maybe not as surprising or shocking as it would have been when the book was written. I just didn't find Lee and Kate's legal marriage all that interesting. If the author had written one of the characters to be more active in gay rights or had brought up the idea that Lee's hospital/physical therapy bills would have been covered under Kate's insurance if they were able to legally wed, then I would have been more involved/interested in the news of their wedding. Because I (as an engaged heterosexual) think everyone should be able to get married and receive the legal benefits of marriage. So, if the marriage thing had been presented better (more build up?) I would have been very excited for them. King (for me) didn't do a good job of combining her characters' lives and the mysteries. I really cared more about the mysteries. One thing I did like is how much San Francisco is present in the novel (and all of them). I have never been there and appreciate the author making the city another character in the novel.
djwpar_2000 More than 1 year ago
Good Laurie King book..Not as good as some of the other Kate Martinelli books but very good.