Laurie R. King. A Grave Talent (1993) 310 pp.
Kate Martinelli, recently promoted to the Homicide division of the San Francisco Police Department, is partnered up with Alonzo (Al) Hawkin, who isnt quite sure of his new female partner. The first case they catch together involves the kidnapping and murder of three young girls from San Francisco that at first appear to be unrelated incidents. But when their nude bodies are discovered in the same secluded rural community in the hills of Santa Clara County, south of the city, it becomes clear that they are the work of a single killer. As Kate and Al investigate the residents the The Road (as the community calls itself), suspicion quickly falls on Vaun Adams, an artist who had been convicted of strangling a six-year old girl seventeen years earlier. Since serving her prison sentence, she has been living quietly in the mountains—and taking the art world by storm as the talented and reclusive Eva Vaughn. Even though they both have a hard time believing that the gentle, sensitive painter is a serial killer, Kate and Al become convinced that the secret to the mystery lies in her past. As they get closer to the killer, they get closer to each other—too close for Kates liking—and the final encounter will leave them changed forever. Editors note: This book won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1994.
Setting: San Francisco, Santa Clara County