So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

To Play the Fool. Laurie R. King

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. Quickly the story changes from a homicide investigation to an attempt to find out about the mysterious Erasmus, who is either a saintly fool or mentally ill.

Laurie King is in her element as the scholarly street person quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare to answer all questions, leaving the two worldly detectives to puzzle over his meaning. Either he killed the man, or he knows who did. They must find a way to make him talk in a way that will make sense to the legal system to solve the crime.

As with A Grave Talent, King creates wonderfully complex characters that draw the reader into the story. Also her plot is sufficiently complex to keep you guessing. I fell in love with the kindly Brother Erasmus and the people who were drawn to him. A delightful story that is well told.


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