Lately, when I see an Audible sale, I’ve been stocking up on a few books I think I’d like later, usually crime books but not always. This is unusual for me as my MO is to buy as I read, but … Audible sales are pretty good and they don’t last forever – so I think I got four at this last sale and I usually get to them before too long – within a month or two. (I currently have 4 lined up with one underway.)
A Grave Talent
by Laurie R. King
1993 / 385 pages
read by Alyssa Bresnahan – 14h 14m
rating: B- / crime – procedural
(Kate Martinelli series #1)
This is relative oldie (as is common on Audible sales), but it’s a goodie and also the start of a series I might enjoy continuing. Kate (“Casey”) is a smart, independent detective for the San Francisco police department – she also happens to be lesbian. Her new work partner is Alonzo Hawkins, a rather gruff and no-nonsense sort of guy, a dedicated veteran on the force. They have to get used to each other.
The story line itself concerns the deaths of 3 kindergarten-age girls whose bodies were found along a road in a little feudal/hippie-type community in the hills behind San Francisco. The neighbors are all interviewed except one – the incredible artist Vaun Adams who, unbeknownst to the community, is a felon – imprisoned for killing a young girl 18 years prior. Vaugn was orphaned as a teen and has had a pretty rough go of it, partly due to her prodigious artistic talent.
But did she commit these murders? For that matter, did she do the first one because there was a seriously bad guy involved with her – mental problems abound in the book. Child abuse is not so much a motif as art (because of Vaun) and abnormal psychology (Vaun and the guy).
King writes very nicely and that’s possibly a problem because the many descriptions and backgrounds, the art talk and the history feel like padding and could interfere with the suspense. Fortunately Bresnahan reads well and was able to give those sections a bit of their own tension.
Still, there is a bit too much info on women artists through the ages and the art world of today after which it gets a little weird when the psychologist shows up. But it always remained within my suspension of disbelief – kind of like “Oh yeah, let’s see how this pans out.” And it all comes together quite nicely into a thriller as well as a novel of psychological suspense.