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To Play the Fool [Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1996
Celebrated author Laurie R. King dazzles mystery lovers once again in this, her second Kate Martinelli mystery. The story unfolds as a band of homeless people cremate a beloved dog in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. When it comes to incidents like this, the authorities are willing to overlook a few broken
regulations. But three weeks later, after the dog's owner gets the same fiery send-off, the SFPD knows it has a serious problem on its hands. Other than the fact that they're dealing with a particularly grisly homicide, Inspector Kate Martinelli and her partner, Al Hawkin, have little else to go on. They have a homeless victim without a positive ID, a group of witnesses who have little love for the cops, and a possible suspect, known only as Brother Erasmus. Kate
learns that Erasmus is well-acquainted with the park's homeless and with the rarefied atmosphere of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, yet he remains an enigma to all. It's apparent that he is by no means crazy--but he is a fool.  Kate begins the frustrating task of interrogating a man who communicates only
through quotations. Trying to learn something of his history leads her along a twisting road to a disbanded cult, long-buried secrets, the thirst for spirituality, and the hunger for bloody vengeance.

Frequently Bought Together

To Play the Fool + Night Work + The Art of Detection
Price For All Three: CDN$ 27.92

  • Night Work CDN$ 9.49
  • The Art of Detection CDN$ 8.54

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The second installment in her series featuring San Francisco police detective Kate Martinelli, King's latest mystery concerns the murder of a homeless man in Golden Gate Park.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

San Francisco detective Kate Martinelli strays from the stereotypical path of policewoman. As an openly lesbian and much-publicized heroine, Kate returns to her job facing a difficult case: street person Brother Erasmus, suspect in the murder of a homeless man, communicates entirely by way of literary quotations. The author presents her homeless characters with honesty and compassion, much in the way she describes the relationship between Kate and her lover or her police partner, Al. A fitting and well-done sequel to the award-winning A Grave Talent (LJ 1/93).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Wow - a book worth re-reading, just to savor the delicious prose and extremely human characters! Everything about this book is delicious. The plot is a good blend of suspense and fun, the characters have soul, and the writing is superb. Some chapters and passages were so well crafted that I went back to enjoy them two and three times. It's amazing what King can do with black ink, white paper, and 26 letters. King's books are all good, but this has got to be the best of all. I think I'll go read it again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best mysteries I've read in YEARS! Sept. 30 1998
What a sensational read! The San Francisco atmosphere, the subtle but brilliant plotting, and the unforgettable character Erasmus make this a book to relish. I've read it several times since it was first published, and it never fails to entertain and intrigue me. Buy it and read it -- it's a keeper. (And don't miss the other books in the Martinelli series.) Three cheers for Laurie King!
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By JulieS
For those of you who have read all of the Mary Russell books by King, you might be pleasantly surprised that she writes other, more modern books. For those of you who live in the SF Bay area, you will also be excited by the locations that are described in this book. I had read many of Laurie King's other books before reading this one and I will say that it was one of the most interesting and best written. The novel is based on the mystery surrounding the murder of a homeless man, but the story actually told is of Brother Erasmus, a Fool, who only speaks in quotes from Shakespeare and the Bible. The real mystery is who Brother Erasmus really is, what he is hiding, and why he speaks only in quotes. There are some other homeless characters in the book who are also well characterized. This book has a lot of metaphysical discussion on those who live outside society in this way. And there is a lot of suspense and mystery involved in finding Brother Erasmus's secrets. Eventually the detective Kate Martinelli founds out who the murderer was, but she is more interested in the life of the characters she meets. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes your mysteries to be a bit more literary. King has been compared a lot to PD James, and I think that comparison holds true.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Lone Reader Reviews "To Play The Fool". Sept. 11 1998
By scrump
"Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters' blessing: here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool." (King Lear, Act 3, Scene 2)
One supposes, after reading (and rereading) this superb example of a mystery, that Laurie R. King would be just as formidable an academic as mystery novelist. Her scholarship is profoundly relevant, accurate, and, most impressively, INTERESTING. This is a book that pities neither wise man nor fool, whether the fool be wooden-headed or more delicately balanced, as in King's story.
This book, second in the "Kate Martinelli" series of mysteries by Laurie R. King, presents the reader with two challenges: the complexity of the narrative and the complexity of the intellectual challenges in the narrative. I admire King's risk-taking with this novel; she neither condescends to nor makes allowance for any laziness on the part of the reader. Simply put, you'll either make the effort to keep up with her, or just bobble along in the wake of her prodigious imagination, wishing you spoke Latin and weren't so lazy. Either action is rewarding.
As in "A Grave Talent", King establishes characters as the driving force behind her narrative. Her protagonists return, slightly more careworn in the intervening time but just as fiesty, and she introduces new characters of towering believability. Anyone who has spent any time aimlessly wandering the streets of San Francisco has encountered the street denizens she describes.
Brother Erasmus, on the other lapel...Brother Erasmus is a quintessential distillation of what we might hope to be, but are gladly not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did I miss something? Dec 3 2002
By "2hoo"
Throughout this book, I felt like I'd missed something. Since I bought four books together, I kept double-checking that I wasn't reading them out of order. That point aside, the story is a very good one and I felt really connected to the characters in this book. I would give it a better rating, except that I think that the first and third books are better.
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