A Grave Talent

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Series: Kate Martinelli #1
Published by: Picador
Release Date: 1993
Pages: 384


The unthinkable has happened in a small community outside of San Francisco. A series of shocking murders has occurred, the victims far too innocent and defenseless. For lesbian Detective Kate Martinelli, just promoted to Homicide and paired with a seasoned cop who's less than thrilled to be handed a green partner, it's a difficult case that just keeps getting harder.

Then the police receive what appears to be a case-breaking lead: it seems that one of the residents of this odd colony is Vaun Adams, arguably the century's greatest woman painter and a notorious felon once convicted of a heinous crime.

But what really happened eighteen years ago? To bring a murderer to justice, Kate must delve into the artist's dark past—even if it means losing everything she holds dear.

Discussion Guide

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"An omniscient narrator endows this amazing first novel with intelligence, intrigue, and intricacy. The serial murders of three kindergarten-aged girls test the uncomfortable relationship between a crusty San Francisco detective and his new female partner, both known for their independence. Eventually, unforeseen complications involving a remarkable artist’s past and an evil stalker’s secretive present force the pair into confrontation, and they learn to trust. This work exhibits strong psychological undertones, compelling urgency, and dramatic action. A necessary purchase and a writer to watch."
—Library Journal


Read Laurie’s blog post on writing A Grave Talent.

Where Vaun chooses to go on her day out

Click here to view the “Kate Martinelli's world” gallery on Pinterest.


The multicolored crowd that whirled in and out of the rooms in Tyler’s house was like something from another world, or perhaps several worlds—part Amish, part Woodstock, part pioneer. Children ran yelling and shrieking among the knees and the furniture, dogs wandered in and were thrown out into the rain, the smells of bread and spaghetti sauce and wood smoke mingled with wet clothing, underwashed bodies, and the occasional aura of stale marijuana. Tyler had given the police three rooms downstairs, furnished with a motley collection of tables and desks, where they prepared to take statements. Kate stood in the main room—the hall—with its fifteen-foot ceilings and the floor space of an average house, and wondered how Hawkin intended to proceed with a murder investigation in this chaos. For the first time she was very grateful that he, not she, was in charge.

Read the full excerpt