When a band of homeless people cremate a beloved dog in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the authorities are willing to overlook a few broken regulations. But three weeks later, when the dog's owner gets the same fiery send-off, the SFPD has a real headache on its hands. The autopsy suggests homicide, but 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, who is certainly articulate, but difficult to understand.
Erasmus, Kate learns, is well acquainted with the park's homeless and with the rarefied atmosphere of Berkeley's Graduate Theology Union, yet he is an enigma to all. He has a genius for blending with his surroundings, yet he stands out wherever he goes. 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.
Original title: To Play the Fool
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Detective Story and Detectives→ Police Procedural