The reviewer’s art

THE ART OF DETECTION makes its appearance in two major trade journals, Booklist and Publishers Weekly, with heaps of praise from both (their reviews follow.) It’e2’80’99s always a huge relief when the big guns fire in the desired direction and the book (to strain a metaphor) doesn’e2’80’99t blow up in your face. I think I’e2’80’99ve talked before on this blog about reviews, and mentioned that I know writers who claim they don’e2’80’99t read them (whether they do in secret is another question), but personally, I value the judgment of an experienced professional. Most of these reviews are necessarily short, and because reviewers are generally working to deadline as well as trying to shovel back the tide of books on their doorsteps with a Dixie cup, any review that gives more than an outline of the plot followed by one line of critique is rare.

Reviewers tend to like my books’e2’80’94I assume for the same reason that other readers like them, because the books are carefully written, don’e2’80’99t underestimate the intelligence of the audience, and balance lively characters with interesting situations and settings. That’e2’80’99s what I aim for, anyway, and even those who don’e2’80’99t get the whole Holmes/Russell thing, or who don’e2’80’99t like lesbian cops, at least give me credit for turning in a solid piece of work.

Good reviews are one way a writer knows she’e2’80’99s doing it right. Not by any means the only way’e2’80’94sales certainly count as a vote of approval, along with the words of one’e2’80’99s editor (assuming the editor is the old-fashioned kind who actually digs into the book; sadly an endangered species.) And underlying all the other critics, that inner voice of the writer herself that says, ‘e2’80’9cYes.’e2’80’9d Yes, that is exactly what I intended to do when I started the book; Yes, this character, that passage rings true; Yes, it amuses me, damn it, even if nobody else in the world gets the reference.

So, my editor loves the book, I am proud of how it turned out, and it appears that the reviewers are liking it as well.

Now all that remains are the people with $25 in their hands on the 30th of May’e2’80’a6.

From BOOKLIST (a starred review):
Sometimes a mystery takes one’e2’80’99s breath away with its impeccable, inexorable logic. King makes two such tales here, whose wheels interlock with a perfect, audible click.

Kate Martinelli, homicide detective in San Francisco, catches a murder case in which the corpse has been found on the Marin headlands in Battery DuMaurier, an artillery site, now long out of use, constructed in the nineteenth century to guard San Francisco Bay. The victim is Philip Gilbert, a gentleman who had turned the first floor of his home into a perfect replica of Sherlock Holmes’e2’80’99 Baker Street. Kate’e2’80’99s involvement in the case is further tangled when a typescript turns up in Gilbert’e2’80’99s possession telling the tale (recounted in a voice sounding very much like Holmes himself) of a 1924 transvestite and her military lover, whose corpse was also found in Battery DuMaurier. The pages of this tale are interspersed with Kate’e2’80’99s investigation, allowing King not only to bring her Mary Russell and Martinelli series together with incredible elegance but also to allow us glimpses of Kate, her partner Leonora, their daughter Nora, and the rainbow families of the Bay Area juxtaposed against the tough daily grind of police work. There’e2’80’99s also the opportunity to explore every facet of Holmes fandom, from the sublime and scholarly to the deliriously ridiculous. A tour-de-force and a great read.

Bestseller King (The Game) meshes her two best-known series–contemporary police procedurals set in San Francisco featuring Kate Martinelli of the SFPD and the period stories of Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes’e2’80’94to create an intelligent, satisfying novel of suspense. Martinelli is investigating the death of Philip Gilbert, an obsessive , avid Holmes collector (he’e2’80’99s even transformed his San Francisco house into a replica of 221B Baker Street), when she discovers what could be the motive: a previously unpublished story from Arthur Conan Doyle, told from Holmes’e2’80’99s point of view, a find that could be worth millions. The present-day narrative is interspersed with the purported Conan Doyle story, which resonates with the account of Martinelli’e2’80’99s own domestic live. A fine, perceptive storyteller, King is particularly adroit at capturing the milieus in which her characters reside. Fans of both series will be well rewarded.

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  1. redzils on April 30, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    What lovely reviews! I can’t wait for the book to arrive in my favorite small town bookstore in Homer, AK.

  2. WDI on April 30, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Congratulations on the great reviews, and curses upon you for providing such tantalizing glimpses 🙂 I will definitely be at my local bookstore with my $$ in hand on 30 May!

  3. Terminaldegree on April 30, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    I’ve already ordered my copy!

  4. Julia on May 1, 2006 at 12:40 am

    Oh dear, I’ve never read a modern cop story before, but all of a sudden I can’t wait to read this one! And the pub. date is a whole 30 days away. 🙁

  5. bani on May 1, 2006 at 6:42 am

    It sounds fantastic! I’ve missed Martinelli a lot, and I’m so glad she’s back. Great reviews, congratulations!

  6. Carisa T on May 1, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    It does sound lovely! I can’t wait to read it. However I found the comment about Nora in the first review a bit of a spoiler. Did anyone else?

    Thank you, Ms. King, for being a more prolific writer than some of my other favorite authors!

  7. Anonymous on May 1, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Is Lenora, Lee? I don’t remember ever hearing her named Lenora.

  8. Beth on May 2, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    Leonra is Lee, but noone calls her that. In A Grave Talent, Al tells Kasey (Not yet Kate, at least not to him), that he knows she rents a room from Dr. Leonora Cooper, and that she has done so for a log time.

    I don’t think mentioning Nora is a spoiler. After all, Lee and Kate have been discussing it since Night Work and With Child. If they got sarted pretty soon after ( assuming early success, she must be five by now.

  9. Anonymous on May 3, 2006 at 3:31 am

    Ah..ha! (I’m going to do this as non-spoilingly as I can muster) There was this character in Locked Rooms that you told us we would hear more about, but in LOCK it didn’t happen (& I asked you about it). Soooo…perhaps it happens in TAOD. to quote myself: cool! Congrats on such splendid reviews.–Meredith T.

  10. Peter W on May 4, 2006 at 11:27 am

    There was a bit of a spotlight on Miss Belinda Birdsong in Locked Rooms, but now I get it. I love the idea of joining the two series in one story! And a very smart way of getting the fans of one series addicted to the other… 🙂

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