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To Play the Fool (Kate Martinelli, #2)
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To Play the Fool (Kate Martinelli #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,295 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
Celebrated author Laurie R. King dazzles mystery lovers once again in this, her second Kate Martinelli mystery. The story unfolds as a band of homeless people cremate a beloved dog in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. When it comes to incidents like this, the authorities are willing to overlook a few broken regulations. But three weeks later, after the dog's owner gets the ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 286 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Crimeline (first published February 1st 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
"What we have here is a failure to communicate;" especially when one character is "To Play the Fool." Laurie King won the Edgar Award for best first novel, "A Grave Talent," over 20 years ago; I came to it late (and King), as I did with her Mary Russell series. After falling in love with several of King's Mary Russell series, I read "A Grave Talent," and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed it so much that I grabbed "To play a Fool," read it in two days, and am simply delighted with the book and t ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
In this one, book two, detective inspector Martinelli and her partner Hawkins (San Francisco PD) are to solve a mystery about the death of a homeless man. Their main suspect happens to be a much beloved, and learned, other homeless man who happens to be a Fool. And who also happens to only speak in quotations (from the Bible and Shakespeare).

I thought it was interesting because

1. The book made you think along with the detective. Especially the quotations. What is he quoting? What is he trying to
Another good read featuring Kate Martinelli and her partner Al Hawkin where they try to solve the murder of a homeless man.
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The second of Laurie R. King's Kate Martinelli books, To Play the Fool, is a tightly written, thoughtful work, and was a nice re-introduction for me to the series. I'd previously read the third and then the first ones; going back to read the second filled in the blanks nicely on things that I'd missed. It'd been long enough since I'd read the previous books though that I'd forgotten much of the nuances of the series, but I recalled enough to find this perhaps the most enjoyable of the ones I'd r ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
To Play the Fool is the second of a series of mystery novels by Laurie King that feature the San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli. The first book, A Grave Talent, was an Edgar Award winner.

This book picks up about a year after the first, and finds Martinelli and her partner Al Hawken investigating the death of a homeless man in Golden Gate Park. There are no witnesses or evidence, but an enigmatic old man called Brother Erasmus who speaks only in quotations becomes a prime suspect. Q
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: San Franciscans, homeless people, theologians, classicists
I usually avoid fiction and particularly mysteries, but my dad enthusiastically suggested I read this as it combined my passions for theology, social justice, poverty/homelessness, disabled communities, and queer communities. That said, my review has little to say about the mystery itself.

I enjoyed this book, painfully at times, but appreciate the ways in which theology and feminism are woven into a complex and compelling story. As a person working in homeless communities in San Francisco, the a
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked this better at the end than while reading it. I don't know, Kate Martinelli's personality somehow doesn't catch my interest...I have read others in the series and can't remember them at all.

However, Brother Erasmus was an interesting character and his back story certainly made his choice to be "foolish" comprehensible - he was a moving character in many ways, and the use of quotations from St. Francis of Assisi at the beginning of each chapter set up a parallelism. I had mixed feelings a
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I was looking for another mystery from Ms. King after reading A Grave Talent and this one kinda was but not really. You don't really know who the killer is until the end but this book is more about the process of a tragic human being. But I was fascinated with the characters. Ms. King writes such rich, complex characters. Throughout this series she has been letting you see more and more into the characters. I agree with others that I had hoped that Al was in this book ...more
Kate Martinelli is back at work despite the reservations of her lover. She and Al Hawkin catch a case that began with the cremation of a beloved dog by the homeless community. Three weeks later the pair are investigating the murder of a homeless man.

Erasmus, a respected monk in the homeless community, is sought as a witness. Even when they find him, interviewing him becomes almost impossible because he speaks only in quotes. Most often the quotes are from the bible or Shakespeare, but even when
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, series
A clever, well written, more than "just" a mystery story. Brother Erasmus (view spoiler) is an intriguing, endearing character, and his story broke my heart. In a way, I would have wanted the murder mystery to be left out, and the story of Brother Erasmus to be the main focus of the book. Very rarely we get to read about homeless people, and when we do, they are usually there to serve as freakish details and/or as victims. Thankf ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I recently discovered Kate Martinelli in A GRAVE TALENT and continued reading about her police work and her private life in TO PLAY THE FOOL. And I may add that I have read the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books. Capsule-sized assessment: I really enjoy King's work. She tells what is, for me, a full, well developed story, complete with the personal bits that give life to an interesting character, without undue or distracting side issues. She knows what makes "enough" and included just that. Ever ...more
I did not enjoy this one as much as the first. It felt like King was trying too hard. The plot had too much woolgathering about the whys and wherefores of the suspect and too much extraneous 'English trivia' for my taste. Also, the ending did not ring true and was too neat.

On the strength of the first one of the series, and the fact that this one was OK (not great but not terrible). I will give another of the series a try. But, if it is like this one rather than the first it is unlikely that I
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I continue to read Lauri's Kate Martinelli mysteries because I not only think she is an excellent writer who spins a gripping yarn, she takes me to a world I would never visit without her. Two beautiful, successful career women in a committed relationship. It is just that Kate is a cop and subject to violence. Her partner Lee was shot in anothr book and is on the mend. The relationship is lovely.

I also liked the part about Fools and the work of fools. I think that maybe what the world needs now
Neilie J
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really good. What I like most about the Kate Martinelli stories is how matter-of-fact they are about the protagonist being a lesbian. It's not an "issue", it's just part of who she is. The way her relationship with her partner Lee is depicted is natural, often sweet and romantic - it feels truthful. Beyond that, the mystery here is interesting, particularly if you live in the Bay and know all the places mentioned in it. A book made of well-constructed, interesting storytelling.
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it
This one was kind of a disappointment for me. I loved the first one so much--this one was just a bit too convoluted for me to enjoy. I am both a history and literary buff; however, her use of quotes just did not gel for me the way her use of art did in the first novel. I am hoping her next installment will be more on par with her first book in this series.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I am giving this three stars only because it is billed as a mystery and that part of the plot is really secondary. But Brother Erasmus is a wonderful character as is the interesting details that lead him from who he was to who he is. It is also a striking commentary on homelessness and makes me think that I need to look a bit closer at the people around me and their realities.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
San Francisco detectives Martinelli and Hawkin are looking into a murder of a homeless man in Golden Gate park. The suspect is a man that speaks only in quotations. As Matinelli investigates and tries to get to know her suspect some interesting things come to light. Good story.
Barth Siemens
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, mystery, glbt
I enjoyed how the idea of The Fool was incorporated into the story, not only for character that was so identified but also in reference by other characters.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Boy, howdy, is this chick wordy. The story was interesting, but I found myself skimming.

I'll probably pick up the next book in the series, but I need to give it a rest for a while.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bridgette Redman
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Over the holidays, one of our major cleaning tasks was to pull all of our books off our various bookshelves, out from under our bed, in our dresser, in the closets, etc. and sort them. We sorted them into boxes to be donated to the library, boxes to put into storage, a pile to put into the “secondary” bookshelf, and then the honored books that would go into our living room bookshelf. These would be books that had importance to us—some child raising books, our scripts and monologue books, books w ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: detective
It took me a while to get into this story. Almost stopped a couple times early on, but I am glad I didn't. It was like I turned a page and there I was, HOOKED. Felt better after that, as I have loved everything by Laurie R. King that I have read. It is a detective story set in San Francisco. Main character is the female detective. The Fools is the person being looked at for a murder. I was not familiar with what a Fool was (is), so it was also a learning experience for me. I like when that happe ...more
Jennifer Hall
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this book after reading Lockdown to learn more about Brother Erasmus. He appears in only one chapter there, but here he's the main focus. I still had questions after most of his mysterious past was revealed. I was sad at the end because I don't know if he will ever come back in another book.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what it is, but the story never really gripped me. It was certainly good enough to keep me listening, but whether the author's writing style or the narration it wasn't enough to rate 4 stars. The plot was interesting, the story was full of pathos and a bit of mysticism mixed with tragedy but I wasn't as fully engaged with the characters as in the first novel in the series.
Rosemary Dreyer
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
3 3/4 Stars: Clever writing and wonderful continual flow-through from her previous Martinelli novel. The Fool's speech was inventive and complex, and very impressive. The murder mystery wasn't as compelling, but I loved the characters, the setting, and the way Al and Kate work together. I'm enjoying this series.
Evelyn Harvill
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Very good!
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Good. Not brilliant but different. Her books always have good stories.
Kimberly Smith
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I am not going to give up on this detective series, I feel connected to Kate Martinelli and Al---but, I did NOT enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed the first helping. A Grave Talent.
Elaine Burnes
This one was a slog. So much copying and pasting from the detective's research instead of storytelling. I want these to be better than they are.
Po Over
Dec 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery

The body of a homeless man is discovered one morning in Golden Gate Park, his skull caved in by generous application of blunt force. In short order, Inspector Kate Martinelli and partner Al Hawkins identify a suspect, an enigmatic transient named Brother Erasmus. But this is no ordinary suspect. Brother Erasmus is a Fool; he communicates using only quotations from scripture and other keystones of theological discourse. Could this kindly man who preaches Christ's better lessons to the wayward mas

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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, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
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Other Books in the Series

Kate Martinelli (5 books)
  • A Grave Talent  (Kate Martinelli, #1)
  • With Child (Kate Martinelli, #3)
  • Night Work (Kate Martinelli, #4)
  • The Art of Detection (Kate Martinelli, #5)

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