Friday, November 23, 2012

With Child: Laurie R. King

This book is the third of the Kate Martinelli mysteries by Laurie R. King. The novels feature a policewoman as the main protagonist, but the stories are not typical police procedurals. With Child focuses in part on the homeless community, as did the second book in the series, To Play a Fool (review here). The second and third books both deal as much with Kate's personal growth and development as with the detection of a crime.

In this book, Kate is living alone for a while and her lover is visiting an aunt in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Kate befriends a twelve-year-old girl, Jules, the daughter of her partner's fiancé. From the description on the back of my paperback edition:
Jules is worried about her friend Dio, a homeless boy she met in a park.  Dio has disappeared without a word of farewell, and Jules wants Kate to find him. Reluctant as she is, Kate can't say no--and soon she finds herself forming a  friendship with the bright, quirky girl.  But the search for Dio will prove to be much more than both bargained for--and it's only the beginning.
As with the previous book in the series, I enjoyed this story more for the writing style than the plot. The characterizations are also very good. I am not saying the plot is not well done; I am saying that the plot dwells more on the issues than on crime detection. I would like a more equal mix.

This book was less than 300 pages long, but it felt long. Not because it was slow; it definitely moved and kept my interest. Maybe because it seemed to be in sections ... first dealing with Dio's disappearance and Kate's developing relationship with Jules; later with an investigation into an abduction.

To sum it up, I like this series and I intend to continue it to the end. I will be interested to see what the next two books in the series bring and where they take Kate.

Laurie R. King has written another series and several standalone mysteries. The other series is about a young woman, Mary Russell, who meets Sherlock Holmes in his later years. The series begins with The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which I have read (several years ago). I liked it; it also was very well written, although the style is different. But it did not entice me to read the next in the series right away, and I have never ventured further with that series. I may remedy that in 2013.

This description is from the author bio at Amazon:
In the Mary Russell series (first entry: The Beekeeper's Apprentice), fifteen-year-old Russell meets Sherlock Holmes on the Sussex Downs in 1915, becoming his apprentice, then his partner. The series follows their amiably contentious partnership into the 1920s as they challenge each other to ever greater feats of detection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tracy - Thanks for this thoughtful review. One point you bring up is especially salient for me. On one hand, I really do like it when authors are unafraid to tackle issues. That, to me, is a very good thing. But when that author focuses more on the issues than on the plot, it can seam preachy. You didn't expressly say this novel smacks of preachiness, but I admit that's what I thought of when I read your review.