Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Laurie King, The Art of Detection

This newest of Laurie King's Kate Martinelli series has earned a lot of critical attention, as King draws into the plot a chunk of the Sherlock Holmes material she's played with in her other series (Mary Russell, late-life wife of the noted sleuth). Thank goodness, Russell herself doesn't appear in the contemporary cop novel, though. I'm not a fan of mingling centuries... despite the success of historical mysteries. I like my time periods "Straight Up," please.
The manuscript research involved in The Art of Detection doesn't bother me a bit, though; it's very "au courant," considering The Da Vinci Code, and of course the hot bibliomysteries by John Dunning. After all, the art of the forger is a tried and true feature of well-twisted plots.
But I'm disappointed in this Laurie King, because it misses two things that I think the earlier Martinelli books did well: portraying the nature of evil, and sustaining the sense of threat.
See, a hero (male/female) who doesn't have to wrestle for her life or integrity or both is holding back -- I want a tale that gives me a sense of doubt about whether things will wrap up well enough, and I want my heroes to struggle, exert those inner muscles, prove why it is that good can indeed win in the end. There's never a guarantee in real life. A good mystery shouldn't imply one, I believe.

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