I really, really wanted to like this, but I really really did not. I’ve read some of King’s Mary Russell series which I’ve massively enjoyed. Unfortunately the first installment of the Kate Martinelli series was not for me. I’m halfway tempted to try the second in the series to see if I like it better. It appears that this was King’s debut, so maybe she was just working some stuff out in her first novel?
Detective Kate Martinelli was just promoted to homicide and keeps her private life to herself. At work, she’s professional and competent, but is never one to invite coworkers home or go out for drinks after a shift. It’s the early 90s and she’s living with a woman so she thinks if her coworkers find out, she’ll suddenly be treated differently and assigned different cases. She’s paired up with Hawkin, a seasoned detective who sleeps rarely and is generally well respected. The two of them get called in on a series of child murders that are connected to an insular community that doesn’t have many modern amenities. They’re not religious fanatics or anything, just people who like to keep to themselves. That becomes impossible with the police investigating why dead children keep being dumped in their neighborhood.
On one hand, King creates some very interesting characters and an interesting set of crimes to solve. On the other hand, the plot was so weirdly paced that I could never get into the story. The murders are solved part way through and that fizzles most of the tension created by their case. From there, Martinelli is forced to let the police into her personal life and babysit a victim. There are weird interludes with precocious children, art criticism, and psychobabble. All this works to undermine the credibility of King’s mystery and the characters within. It’s really sad because I could really go for a solid LGBTQ detective series!