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A Grave Talent (Kate Martinelli #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,033 ratings  ·  271 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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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
171st out of 4,437 books — 10,143 voters
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieOne for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Best Detective/Mystery Series
75th out of 1,194 books — 1,415 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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...more
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...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
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...more
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...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
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
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
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
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...more
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.
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
Feb 27, 2012 Carl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery Lovers
I am two decades behind on reading this book "A Grave Talent" (and now series) by Laurie King. Over a year ago, a friend introduced me to King's Mary Russell books and I was totally impressed. I never would have thought that I would accept, let alone enjoy, a book that had Holmes in a slowly evolving relationship with a young woman. Yet, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" was cleverly written with a well crafted plot; the character development of Russell and Holmes was slowly and painstakingly crafte...more
Neighbor Laura loaned me this one, insisting that I start at the beginning of this mystery series in order to fully understand it. This series takes place in San Francisco which is my new favorite place to read about, so I was looking forward to it. I really liked it and am looking forward to more in the series.
This mystery is set around a series of dead six-year-old girls found in this one rural neighborhood. The main character, Casey or Kate (depending on if you are a friend), is partnered wi...more
(mild spoilers follow)

A GRAVE TALENT is the sort of multifaceted mystery novel that I enjoy. Besides a genuinely compelling murder mystery, the writing is strong, the characters appealing, the San Francisco setting vividly portrayed. King delights in writing about all elements of detective work, from crime scene investigation to witness interviews to the drudgery of following up minor leads. There are moments of genuine surprise and discovery. And there are moments of excitement and danger as w...more
So I decided to try out this series by Laurie King after becoming hooked on her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. I feel a 3.5 star rating would be more accurate rating for A Grave Talent but am unable to give that so I went with 3.

If anyone has read the Mary Russell novels this Kate Martinelli series is very different. Differences: Mary Russell novels take place in Europe (mostly England) and begin in 1915. I have only read the first 2 books in the series so far and therefore can't speak of...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Mystery novels often come in one of two flavors: those focused on the mystery and those that use they mystery to explore character. Agatha Christie is a good representative of the former, while P.D. James perhaps represents the latter. A Grave Talent falls definitely into the second category. The book starts off as a fairly typical "first type" mystery, but quickly shifts into an exploration of character, with the mystery elements being almost completely abandoned by about the middle of the book...more
Wayne Spiceland
According to goodreads, 5 stars means “It was amazing,” which I’ve always thought was a poor choice of terms. There are a lot of great books -- Ulysses, To Kill A Mockingbird, To The Lighthouse, I, Claudius --well, you get the idea, but “Amazing” just doesn’t seem to be the right word, even for the best of them. Anyway, folks, whatever it is that transcends “Really liked,” Laurie R. King’s A Grave Talent falls into that category, for me, at least.

Technically, the writing is very sound, especial...more
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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...more
More about Laurie R. King...
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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