If you are a fan of Laurie R King and have not yet read The Art of Detection, which is the best Kate Martinelli novel to date, by far, don't read this post. After reading everything else Laurie King wrote I wasn't sure I wanted to read another Kate Martinelli novel. They were so simplistic in comparison. But Laurie King has matured and brought that maturity to this series too. It is wonderful. You should read it, and if you haven't, be forewarned. I am about to totally ruin the end of the novel. I'm not going to tell you who done it, but nevertheless...
So, those of you who are still reading probably don't know, Kate Martinelli is a detective in San Francisco and, oh yeah, she's a lesbian. She has a long term partner and in this novel, set in 2004, they have a four year old child. Her family is part of the novels in just the way it should be. They are part of her life. The book is about solving the mystery, and Lee and Nora are the people Kate loves.
I don't know about the rest of you, but when I am reading a novel part of me believes that the characters are real. Oddly, The Art of Detection revolves in part around a manuscript. Kate seems to have the same problem I do. She has to remind herself that the characters in the manuscript are not real. In my case, I simply cannot stop reading a book if the main characters are in peril. I cannot leave them there. My family has come to accept that. Today Hubby and Brian grilled steaks. Outside it was warm with a slight breeze and everyone wanted to eat in the back yard. I know I should put down the book, okay turn off my iPod with the audio book on it, but I could not. I hit the pause button and told them, "Kate is being held at gun point!" They nodded, understanding my insanity, and left me alone to eat and stay with Kate until she was safe.
It is not that I need to know what is going to happen next. I know what is going to happen next. Kate is going to be okay. She is going to get out of this situation. There may be some sort of unexpected twist at the end of the story, but I am not anxiously reading to get to that twist; I just really feel that somehow Kate is stuck there until I continue reading. The author may be the creator of this world, but I move it forward.
I do understand that Kate is a fictional character though. Perhaps that is why she needs me to continue to read. Without the reader to pull her forward she cannot progress. And when the novel ends, she will stay where it ends. That happens with all novels. Unless the author writes a sequel, the characters stay where the novels end. It might be inevitable that witty Elizabeth Bennett and stodgy Mr. Darcy would not really be able to get along for a life time. Perhaps Mr. Darcy would later regret having married beneath him. Perhaps, but they are safe from the angst of an unhappy marriage. They are forever newlyweds.
The Art of Detection is a murder mystery and so it starts with a dead body, but it ends with another death. It is a tragic death, public and horrible and destined to dominate the news. Kate goes home, to her family, seeking comfort and refuge. For just a while she hides from the world. Her home is a good place to hide. They are just another happy family. Two moms and a little girl.
But the novel was not over. Kate and Lee's friends, knowing that they have temporarily sealed themselves off from the world make them leave for a surprise. They take them downtown to the courthouse. There is a celebration. There are people, and flowers and cakes. It is February 2004, and gay and lesbian couples are lining up to be married. So often fiction feels like reality, at the end of this novel a moment of reality has entered the fiction.
And I cried. I sat, curled up with my iPod and cried. I remember the marriage marathon. I remember the pictures on television. It was a time filled with joy. I cried because it is such a simple thing. It was the right thing.
I cried because I don't understand why the courts over-turned it. I cried because I so desperately want that for all of my children, and they are not permitted it, at least not today. I cried because, unlike Kate and Lee, I knew what was coming next.
I do have hope. In reality the story, the battle, goes on. Acceptance increases. Marriage rights are being recognized in more and more places. In the real world I believe it will get better. Someday I will be able to dance at all my children's weddings, provided of course they decide to make that sort of commitment to another.
However, right now, I find I hope that Laurie R King does not write a another sequel in this series. I like leaving Kate and Lee there, in front of the courthouse, filled with joy and looking at the world the way it should be.