An excellent crime novel set in San Francisco

I have been reading and enjoying the Holmes and Russell novels by Laurie R King which are about Sherlock Holmes and his new partner, and wife, Mary Russell. You can read my post about this series here – since I wrote that I have read a few more of them  and am really enjoying where she has taken the series. When looking at a list of the books the author has published I discovered that she has also written a short series of modern novels set in San Francisco. A Grave Talent is the first of those.

This series features Kate Martinelli who has just been promoted as a homicide detective in the local police service. She is paired with an older, more experienced, man who isn’t best pleased at having a novice assigned to him. Their first murder enquiry is into the disappearance of young girls who are being kidnapped from their homes, killed and abandoned in ditches. The latest body causes the investigation to concentrate on a private, rural road inhabited by artists who live in a semi-communal manner. All the bodies have appeared along this road.

On investigation it transpires that one of the residents of the road is a well-known artist who spent time in prison as a young woman for murdering the child that she was babysitting. All evidence seems to point to her but the investigators have their doubts and if she has not committed these latest murders then is she responsible for the one in the past that caused her to be imprisoned ?

This is an excellent crime novel. The author has limited the suspects to a few by means of the geography and the killer is soon revealed to the detectives and the reader. The remaining part of the book is an attempt to catch the murderer and this involves Kate’s partner and home being part of the set-up.

I liked the characters in this story. I found them easy to identify with and I was glad that their interactions had a certain amount of humour – although this is not a funny book. The plot was well constructed and there were lots of red herrings and dead ends but no great twist. I wanted to know if they found the murderer and I also wanted to be sure that the main characters were safe which shows me that I was invested in the book. This was an enjoyable read and I shall now secure a copy of the second book in the series to see what the author does next with Kate and her family and friends.

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