The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't know how it happened, but I have read two books in a row in which the gay/lesbian secondary theme in the book has been heavy handed and off putting. I am getting very tired of it. The detective, Kate Martinelli has her perfect little lesbian family with her partner's all too perfect and wise 3 year old child. About half the book is devoted to these side issues and, predictably, all the gays are wonderful, misunderstood, and discriminated against and the rest of the characters are either wildly supportive of their lifestyle or complete jerks. There is preaching, dogmatism and intolerance on the alternative lifestyle proponents that is every bit as nauseating as the morality plays of the past. Kate has an attitude that is every bit as prejudiced, bigoted and sanctimonious as the people she demeans. Please, authors, give it a rest!! This has nothing to do with a fairly decent mystery so why include it?
The setting involves a group of people who are Sherlock Holmes aficionados and the murder of one of their members. When his body is found in a gun emplacement on the Marin headlands Kate and her partner, Al Hawkins, believe the murder has been committed elsewhere and the body has been staged. They trace the murder victim to his home which is awesome as well as eerie. On the bottom two floors, the house is a replica of a San Francisco home at the time of Sherlock Holmes even down to the gas lights and heat. On the third floor, where Philip Gilbert mainly lives, he has a computer, security system with a nanny camera and even an elevator, but the rest of the house allows him to immerse himself in the life and times of Sherlock Holmes.
The crux of the story involves a newly found manuscript supposedly written by Arthur Conan Doyle while he was visiting San Francisco and it involves a complicated murder which was similar to the staging of Philip Gilbert's murder. The detective work is quite good and the solution is interesting and plausible. The addition of all the Sherlock Holmes information makes the book work slogging through despite all the gay/lesbian posturing.
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