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A Grave Talent (Kate Martinelli #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,375 ratings  ·  292 reviews
This gripping debut of the Kate Martinelli mystery series won the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery, generating wide critical acclaim and moving Laurie R. King into the upper tier of the genre. As A Grave Talent begins, the unthinkable has happened in a small community outside of San Francisco. A string of shocking murders has occurred, each victim an innocent child. For ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 342 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Crimeline (first published 1993)
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184th out of 4,901 books — 10,921 voters
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Community Reviews

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Until about 2/3 through, this book was getting 5 stars. It had a compelling mystery, good character development and descriptions that enhanced the story that you actually wanted to read rather than skip. Then "suddenly" one of the main characters took on an unexpected and unwelcome twist that became the primary agenda for the remainder of the book, leaving the mystery as more of a side line. It really had nothing to do with the story.

Plus, I don't enjoy having an author suddenly focus on conver
Kayla Perry
Before anything else I have to address some of the reviews of this book.

Being gay is not an agenda. Wanting this to be kept private and free from literature is tantamount to saying that you want to erase gay people from a literary presence which is, to put it bluntly, some bigoted bullshit. There is nothing "politically correct" about an author writing about a happy lesbian couple. Gay people exist in the real world and they deserve to be written about in a flattering or even matter-of-fact mann
Hmmm. Conflicted. I liked it yet it irked me. The plot was gripping enough but some of the characters seemed almost mystically glorified (Saintly Lee and The Creator Vaugn) and not real humans. I liked all the "arty" stuff a lot, and would like to see some of Vaugn's paintings. (If, you know, she were real.) I can't remember when this novel was published and am too tired right now to Google it but I thought I remember 1992 -- yet parts of this novel seem set solidly in the mid-70's and the rest ...more
The initial premise is tried and true: a veteran detective, Al Hawkins, is assigned a new partner, Kate Martinelli. She's no rookie, but she's climbed quickly up the ranks, and now that Al's been assigned the investigation of a little girl's murder, the higher ups want a woman on the case. And that's where A Grave Talent departs from the tried and true. Not that it falls short; on the contrary, this is an exciting, riveting police procedural. What is so surprising about AGT is that it was actual ...more
Slow to warm and fast to end, this Edgar Award winner finished on a high note that resolved some doubts I’d had through much of the book. Protagonist Kate and her partner Al are thrown together to investigate the murders of three girls. The location of the bodies in an enclave of simple living run by one man on the west side of the San Francisco peninsula, draws attention to a woman, Vaun, who turns out to have a past that seems to implicate her in the slayings. Vaun is known locally to be an ar ...more
I have read several of Laurie R. King's books, but decided to go back and read her now 20-year-old debut novel.

The good news is that it definitely holds up with time.

This book is introduction of King's female police officer, Kate Martinelli. She's brought in to be the public face in charge of investigating the disappearance and murder of three young Bay Area girls, all of whose bodies are found on a property called Tyler's Road. The Road, as it is colloquially called, is a sort of commune of med
Lexxi Kitty
This is one of those that was quite solid, that I was seriously thinking of rating it 5 stars at one point. Then later seriously considering rating it 3 stars. There were certain elements I can't mention or I'd have to tag this "full of spoilers" that didn't so much annoy me as make me feel let down.

There was a certain amount of manipulation, of author pulling on heart strings to get reactions out of readers that I started to feel a little too acutely.

It was a solid book, beginning middle and e
Oct 02, 2009 Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
This interesting detective story introduces female detective Casey Martinelli and her partner Al Hawkins.
Together they investigate the murders of three little girls in separate incidences. The bodies are found in the same area and the occupants of ‘The Road’ are the most likely suspects. The Road is a hippy commune kind of set up; quite literally a road isolated and lorded over by a single man – Tyler. The Road is run according to his rules and is not electrified and no cars are allowed on it ex
Jill Holmes
Laurie R. King's award-winning "A Grave Talent" introduces readers to Kate Martinelli, a policewoman recently promoted to detective, and the senior detective, Al Hawkin, with whom she is paired. Their first case together has them tracking down the killer of three little girls in an isolated, self-sufficient community in the Santa Cruz mountains south of San Francisco. The killings bear a strong resemblance to a murder some years ago, and they find the convicted killer in the community, having co ...more
Catherine Leggitt
Having read the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie King, I anticipated great writing in her debut novel. Ah, a female detective, even better. I dug in with eagerness. The plot held my attention for a while. Three children murdered. Some connection to a bizarre bohemian enclave in the mountains near San Francisco. Nice budding relationship between the new-kid-on-the-block, Kate Martinelli, and her male detective partner. The writing was great. The imagery superb.

THEN the story stalled w
This the first of the Kate Martinelli series by Laurie R. King. It is very deeply disturbing in conception and psychological characterization: and that would seem to be it's strength and point. Which is to say that it is written to distress, disturb and discompose. Given these intents, the characters fulfill these intentions, as do the plotting and the twists of tale. Whoever choses books that make their adrenaline burst out, their stomachs wretch and their minds reel with horror, will have the ...more
I enjoyed A Grave Talent. I don't really read mysteries, so I can't say how it holds up when compared to the genre as a whole.

The main character, Casey, reminded me of Kate Becket on Castle, and this is certainly a positive. Casey is competent, but also new at what she's doing, and has some personal issues that make her more interesting, but also aren't the main focus of the book.

My biggest criticism is that most of the narrative surrounding Lee, Casey's significant other, is told in a way that
Some typical first book flaws here, the most jarring of which were the many mid-scene POV shifts. King does a lot of telling-not-showing in this novel as well. For example, we're repeatedly told that Vaun Adams, the artistic "talent" that the title puns on, is a force of nature, larger than life, change-you-forever kind of personality, but we get absolutely no sense of that forcefulness in any of her scenes. The actual mystery is also a bit lacking -- it's clear that the novel is meant to be mor ...more
Mike Cuthbert
We know who did it for the entire novel, but we’re not always sure what his name is. We also know that world-famous artist Vaun Adams was convicted of murder in her youth but the clouds are lifting on that story as a series of murders takes place in a small town outside San Francisco. The murders are of young women and suspicion falls on Adams because of her alleged past. Policewoman just promoted to homicide Inspector Kate Marinelli discovers the artist in dire shape in her country place and su ...more
Elke Koepping
Spannend zu lesen und glaubhafte, interessante Charaktere. Etwas unangenehm fiel mir jedoch diese schwiemelige Art auf, in der Laurie King über Homosexualität schreibt. Durchaus begrüßenswert befindet sich ihre Protagonistin in einer lesbischen Beziehung. Dass dieser Umstand nicht notwendigerweise mit allen Kollegen im Polizeidienst ausführlichst besprochen werden muss, ist aus meiner Sicht klar und verständlich. Dass es ein Problem für die Protagonistin darstellt, mit überhaupt irgendjemandem ü ...more
I already was a big fan of Laurie King's Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series so I was excited and a little nervous to branch out to her other books. I loved this book. The new partnership between the two cops is engaging and Kate Martinelli's romantic relationship is well-drawn. I particularly appreciate the way King depicts physical settings almost as another character. I also really enjoyed her incorporating art and art criticism into the book in a friendly but non-superficial way. Because the ...more
King, Laurie R. - 1st in Kate Martinelli series

Although Kate Martinelli, a newly promoted homicide detective with a secret to conceal, and Alonzo Hawkin, a world-weary cop trying to make a new life in San Francisco, could not be more different, they are thrown together to solve a brutal crime - the murders of three young girls.

This was very good! I shall definitely look for her future books.
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
This was fine, a standard urban mystery with some danger although I wouldn't call it a thriller. Then again I read it years ago and barely remember it. Definitely not as good as the Mary Russell books. I remember something horrifying about a baby and that my feelings not being in line with the characters, and that's about it. Obviously not that memorable but not bad.
Pat Stearman
The first Kate Martinelli! Clever story, love the writing, happy to catch up with how the series started and the characters were introduced.

I just had to edit this to address most of the other reviews on the Goodreads page. Now, I knew Kate was gay from the start because I read the books out of order but why would anyone think it was a)necessary to make the comment and b) decide she hated the book once that small fact came out (so to speak!). Admittedly I suspect the people concerned are Ameri
Oh this book was deliciously good. I'm fascinated by how absorbed I get in these stories. Laurie King is a very good writer. I enjoyed all the psychology in this one, all the pondering about human relationships and therapy and self-awareness and character development. A fabulous read to which I gave over much of the day.
Jun 27, 2008 WK rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: lrk
This book with a renouned artist at it core is written by an author that is herself a true artist who enjoys using well chosen words to 'paint' an intricate and thoroughly enjoyable tale.
Lost Book Thoughts
(4.5 Stars)

A really enjoyable detective/mystery novel. I've read some of the Sherlock Holmes series by her and I had some expectations for this novel. Even though it wasn't always very fast paced, I really loved all of the details and the characters. The writing is especially strong. Even when I was reading a long description about a character, which usually bores me, I wanted to read more. If you like detective novels, with plenty if mystery and a little bit of murder, then I would very much re
G.H. Monroe
I think that this novel endeavored to be too much. The author seemed to want to write a literary novel and a murder mystery. It can be done, Thomas Harris did it, but it isn't easy. In my opinion, it's a big risk. As I read this book, I often found myself overwhelmed by descriptions of person and place. At times it seemed like the author was enamored with her grand vocabulary. people who purchase books in this genre are interested in the case and the chase. Here we were given about 45% to 55% "c ...more
I loved the characters in this.
First, for those who don't want the "gay PC" or "gay agenda" "shoved in your faces," not because you're "not haters" but because "it doesn't matter to the story": I call bullshit. Would you complain and say Kate's romantic relationship doesn't matter to the story if her lover were a man? Of course not. A character's love is part of who the character is. Characters drive a good story. It does matter.

You're not fooling anybody.

That said, I enjoyed this book. I'll definitely read the rest of the se
Detective Al Hawkin, a recent transfer, draws a high profile case that could make or break his career in San Francisco. The bodies of three murdered girls of kindergartner age are found in a community outside of San Francisco. The children came from wealthy neighborhoods inside the city. The first abduction was just before Thanksgiving, followed six weeks later by another, and finally a third child, which is when Hawkin is given the case. He's not happy when along with the case, he is given newl ...more
The descriptions of the art done by the painter in teh book are incredible.......much more depth of understanding that I usually bring to it again. I kept wanting to look the pictures up online to see them...LOL

Kate's relationship with Lee is well into the book before we realize that Lee is a woman as well, so there is that sort of small surprise that I recall from teh first time I read the book...and I was still carried along with the use of words and not using pronouns so that it was again a m
I should preface this by saying that I'm not much of a mystery reader. I like the story because it's GLBT without being totally in-your-face about it. The main character is in a lesbian relationship, but it's not the focus. There are a few "it's hard to be gay in this career" discussions, but without taking the "woe, it's so hard to be me! Look at how difficult being gay is!" track that a lot of GLBT books/movies tend to do.

That said, I feel like there were quite a few sections of "look at me an
A Grave Talent is a first novel by Laurie R. King and introduces San Francisco Detective Kate Martinelli who has just been promoted to Homicide and partnered with a seasoned policeman. They are investigating the murder of three female children in an isolated area called Tyler's Road. The latest child found was the five-year-old daughter of Mrs. Donaldson, the moving force behind various art projects and a personal friend of the mayor. Suddenly, parents erupted into panic and Al Hawkin and Kate a ...more
Rick Ludwig
I always enjoy Laurie King's writings and am a huge fan of her Mary Russell series. I read my first Kate Martinelli mystery "The Art of Detection" because it had a tie to the Mary Russell book "Locked Rooms" and enjoyed it very much. In that book Martinelli was a vibrant character with an intriguing backstory about whom I wanted to learn more.

I picked this one up because it was the first Martinelli mystery and it did provide a lot of background on the character and her situation. Unfortunately a
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's most recent novel The Bones of Paris sees Touchstone's Harris Stuyvesant and Bennett Grey find the darkness beneath the light of 1929 Paris. In the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, a brilliant teen bec
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Other Books in the Series

Kate Martinelli (5 books)
  • To Play the Fool (Kate Martinelli, #2)
  • With Child (Kate Martinelli, #3)
  • Night Work (Kate Martinelli, #4)
  • The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli, #5)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1) A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2) O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5) A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3) The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)

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