Read Touchstone by Laurie R. King Online


Hailed for her rich and powerful works of psychological suspense as well as her New York Times bestselling mysteries, Laurie R. King now takes us to a remote cottage in Cornwall where a gripping tale of intrigue, terrorism, and explosive passions begins with a visit to a recluse upon whom the fate of an entire nation may rest—a man code-named ... Touchstone.It’s eight yearHailed for her rich and powerful works of psychological suspense as well as her New York Times bestselling mysteries, Laurie R. King now takes us to a remote cottage in Cornwall where a gripping tale of intrigue, terrorism, and explosive passions begins with a visit to a recluse upon whom the fate of an entire nation may rest—a man code-named ... Touchstone.It’s eight years after the Great War shattered Bennett Grey’s life, leaving him with an excruciating sensitivity to the potential of human violence, and making social contact all but impossible. Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world—until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new kind of warfare. Agent Harris Stuyvesant desperately needs Grey’s help entering a world where the rich and the radical exist side by side—a heady mix of the powerful and the celebrated, among whom lurks an enemy ready to strike a deadly blow at democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.Here, among a titled family whose servants dress in whimsical costumes and whose daughter conducts an open affair with a man who wants to bring down the government, Stuyvesant finds himself dangerously seduced by one woman and—even more dangerously—falling in love with another. And as he sifts through secrets divulged and kept, he uncovers the target of a horrifying conspiracy, and wonders if he can trust his touchstone, Grey, to reveal the most dangerous player of all ….Building to an astounding climax on an ancient English estate, Touchstone is both a harrowing thriller by a master of the genre and a thought-provoking exploration of the forces that drive history—and human destinies....

Title : Touchstone
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553803556
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 548 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Touchstone Reviews

  • Kim
    2018-11-02 19:52

    When I started reading Laurie R King's Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series a couple of years ago after a very long break from her work, I didn't know about this novel. First published in 2007, it's been a standalone work until recently, when a second novel featuring the same main protagonists, The Bones of Paris, was published. I like King's writing. Her prose is excellent, she does a good job creating interesting (if not always believable) characters, her evocation of time and place is powerful and she weaves historical events and personalities into her stories in an interesting and unforced manner. Touchstone is something of a departure from King's Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series and her earlier Kate Martinelli series. Rather than crime fiction, it's in the thriller genre. The novel is set in England in 1926, in the lead up to a national strike in support of coal miners. Harris Stuyvesant, an agent with the Bureau of Investigation (precursor to the FBI) is in London following a lead in his investigation into a series of politically motivated bombings in the US. He crosses paths with the sinister eminence grise Aldous Carstairs and shell shocked veteran Bennett Grey, a man whose war injuries have given him a particular sensitivity to deception. (Grey is one of those interesting but not very believable characters King is particularly good at creating). The narrative is in the third person omniscient style, giving an old-fashioned feel to the work which I quite like, although the rapidity with which the perpective switches from one character to another was sometimes a little annoying. Another feature of the work is its sedate pace. I don't read many thrillers and I don't need my fiction to be action packed, but even taking my patience with a slow narrative into account, there were times when this one went too slowly for me. There are too many cigarettes smoked, too many cups of coffee drunk and too many drinking sessions and hangovers described in minute detail. This does not make for a particularly thrilling thriller.I worked out - well, correctly guessed - the identity of the perpetrator early on. However, I doubted myself because my guess didn't seem particularly credible. And indeed, the climax of the action was anything but credible. However, that happens in crime fiction - and in thrillers too, I suppose - so there's no point in reading such novels at all if you can't cross the suspension bridge of disbelief and enjoy the view from the other side. Notwithstanding my reservations, I enjoyed the view enough to give this 3 to 3.5 stars. I also liked it enough to move straight on to its newly published sequel. What can I say, it was there, ready to go. And it's set in 1920s Paris, one of my favourite literary locations. I listened to the audiobook version which is competently narrated by American actor Jefferson Mays. He's not bad at the English voices - although he mostly sounds like an American putting on an English accent and a Welsh accent proved beyond his ability - and he doesn't come over all falsetto with the female characters. All in all, Mays made listening pleasant.

  • Rachel
    2018-10-29 18:57

    This was a haunting book that carefully toed the line between supernatural fiction and mystery. Laurie King is the author of several excellent series (the Holmes/Russell books are among my all-time favorites) and this was definitely closer to the suspense/thriller side of mystery than her others. The story involves an FBI agent tracking down a terrorist in the 1920's, who gets pulled into a creepy organization built around a man with a very disturbing ability. The whole book has an air of melancholy, and all of the characters are already wounded in some way, whether physically or emotionally, and only face more of it during their lives. Still, it never really crosses into being maudlin, probably because of the crisp action scenes and the humor of the setting. Laurie King is truly a master storyteller, and this book only misses a five because I compare it to The Beekeeper's Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women, which I still think are better. :)

  • Katherine Coble
    2018-11-14 21:44

    When you'd rather fold laundry than read a's time to put the book aside and move on to something else.

  • Sfdreams
    2018-11-14 22:42

    I usually like Laurie King's books,(she's on my author alert at the library,) but I took this out TWICE from the library, and couldn't finish it either time. The second time, I didn't even want to pick it up--there were just too many other interesting things to do or read.The first time I got about halfway through before I had to return the book. The subject matter wasn't terribly interesting to me: it takes place in the 1920s, and involves espionage and one man who was left with psychic abilities from his injuries in WWI. So, perhaps this is a better book for someone who is interested in period pieces and warfare.

  • Sophia
    2018-11-08 20:44

    Love the author's Russell & Holmes and Kate Martinelli series so I was glad to see she created another world and characters set in the '20s with dogged Harris Stuyvesant for the protagonist.Harris is an American Federal agent and he is on the hunt for a bomber who struck several times in the US, but is an Englishman. He takes leave and heads to England to track him down. But this is no ordinary man and he circulates in the highest circles of English society. So Harris is forced to elicit the help of a shady and shadowy member of British government who leads him to a man, Bennett Grey, gifted with an ability that this government man, Carstairs, wants to exploit.With the fragile Bennett at his side, Harris infiltrates the group surrounding Benson through the aristocratic Hurleighs who Bennett and his sister, who works with Benson's movement, know since childhood. The hunt is twisty and the game is deep. No one is without secrets or an agenda. But Harris has to figure it out before another incident happens and this time on English soil. This sounds exciting in the blurb and it delivers on the promises there. But...Yeah, there's a but. There is soooooo much build up that this moves along at a snail's pace. The characters, the settings, the historical backdrops, the relationships, the politics all take precedence so the forward motion is a hard slog. I think what was truly hard for me was the fact that I figured this one out and why pretty much after the players and their situations were all introduced. Not even the final twist was a shocker. I do like my surprises.Now the stuff I did like were the characters and their interactions and even the atmosphere. Harris was fantastic. I loved spending time as he did his job. He's a working class American who thinks for himself and has a bit of rebel in him and he is plopped right into the middle of staid English English-ness. LOL. I know that sounds silly, but that's what it was like. He used the clod of an American role to his benefit as he moved around amongst the English upper classes and equally as snobby lower classes who get nervous with someone who doesn't know his place and doesn't fit into a niche. Then there's Bennett. Bennett has a gift that allows him to know when a person resonates true. He barely survived the war and then was misused to test him. And now he just wants to be left in peace. But Harris barges into his life and Bennett agrees to help even though he has secrets of his own.The historical setting felt right. Post-WWI England, Political and Social unrest, Wounded Vets, Changing structure, Precarious Economy, High Society English country life, and detection and espionage work of the time. The dialogue, dress, mannerisms, activities was all detailed in as background without pushing out the story. Well other than the class wars and Political unrest which were big themes.The suspense is twisted and there are enough suspicious people to keep the reader occupied. It's more of a cerebral suspense than an action one. Though Harris is the sort of hero that can deliver on the action and spying when called upon.There is a whiff of romance and an aching love affair, but these are minor plots. Though, maybe later in the series.So, this one was a plodder and not as devious as I like, but it shows promise. I definitely plan on continuing on to the next book.

  • Margaret
    2018-11-15 19:47

    This is a stand-alone novel, not related to either of her series. It's 1926, and FBI agent Harris Stuyvesant has come to London in search of a bomber; for help, he's sent to Englishman Bennett Grey, whose experiences in World War I have left him with an unearthly sensitivity to other people's thoughts and who has been hiding in Cornwall for years. Almost against his will, Grey agrees to help Stuyvesant by gaining him entry into an elite milieu which includes Lady Laura Hurleigh, who is devoting her life to social reform; charismatic politician Richard Bunsen; and Grey's sister Sarah, Lady Laura's best friend.It's a good book in many ways, but it lacks focus; it's not as tight as I think a suspense novel ought to be. There are well-developed, complex characters, but too many of them are POV characters (six, and I thought only four or five at most were necessary), and King head-hops occasionally. There are lovely, rich settings, which are often over-described. The plot is intriguing, but it takes forever to get going and occasionally bogs down in description and dialogue (though the last hundred pages or so are quite tense). I think Touchstone would have better if it had been shorter and tighter, but I did enjoy it after finally getting absorbed in it, due largely to King's richly developed characters.

  • Celia
    2018-11-01 23:39

    It took me a little while to get into this political thriller - a stand alone book from King, whom I love for her excellent series. Set in the 1920s, in an England torn between unions and a conservative government, an American agent arrives seeking a terrorist suspect. Secret agents and terrorists aren't really my favourite sort of books, so it took me a little while to get past that, after which I really enjoyed this.It's not your average secret-agent-terrorist-plot book, of course - there's the ex-soldier with mysterious and debilitating abilities, the charismatic politician, the aristocratic family with ties to the unions - it's wonderfully set up, with fantastic characters (as you expect from King), and a conclusion that manages to devastate while still giving you some semblance of a happy ending.

  • WK
    2018-11-01 00:47

    Like all of Laurie’s work it is finely weaved and very well told.I was able to pick up most of the breadcrumb trail as to “who” and marvel at Laurie’s talent for sculpting that character so well that the “why” is not only believable but could even be considered admirable.

  • Aunty Sarah
    2018-10-30 21:57

    I like Laurie King and was excited that she wrote a nice, thick book. I was so bored with this book, but I kept reading hoping it would get better. No luck. Her other books I recommend (they are mysteries) but don't bother with this one. BOOOOORRRIING!

  • Judy
    2018-10-30 22:03

    IMHO, Laurie King is a gifted author. I've enjoyed her mysteries. Most recently, I received and read her new book, LOCKDOWN. Many people like her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels, but I've not been able to get into them. I was looking for a audiobook while traveling, and ran across this novel. It takes place shortly after WWI and involves a veteran who suffers emotionally from war experiences. The unique premise of King’s plot is that Bennett Grey, the veteran has the ability to understand what other people are thinking. Harris Stuyvesant, an FBI agent, is the main protagonist, makes contact with Grey, hoping he will introduce Stuyvesant to people in the society. I really enjoyed the characters of both Grey and Stuyvesant and what they go through. It's an exciting thriller. I want to read the second of King's involving Stuyvesant.

  • Robin
    2018-11-09 17:56

    I've been a Laurie King fan since I read her first book in the Holmes/Russell series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Before Touchstone I'd never really been able to get into what I think of as her stand alone titles, rather than those that build into a series, but this one really sucked me in.I admit, I'm always intrigued by novels set during and around World War I, perahps because it was such an awful landmark for modern warfare, and its affect on both the world and individuals dealing with mechanized warfare and biological agents for the first time. The trenches always chill me to the bone, and this book uses echoes of that to discuss a lot of things: heroism, shell shock, the aftereffects of being involved in that kind of way. Of course, as the book is set in 1926, there's also a lot of investigating the environment and politics that led to the beginnings of World War II. Aside from all of that, which has many connections to the distressing state of the world today, this book is all about the characters, and I loved them all. As a mystery, it isn't really much of one, in that I pretty much guessed who the culprit was from almost the beginning of the book. Then again, I don't think the mystery was at all the point -- the point was how people got to that point, and that is the far more interesting story.I do hope she writes more with these characters (the novel ends in such a way that she very well could) as I'd love to see them go forward.

  • Laura Dugan
    2018-11-15 22:49

    A break from the various series King pens, this book introduces Harris Stuyvesant, an FBI man (although at the time the FBI isn't called the FBI) from the 1920s. Stuyvesant is in England at a time of strife: miners are close to striking, war still looms on the minds of many, and communism is a great fear. Stuyvesant's goal is to atone for the death of an innocent woman and the life-altering injury of his brother. Along the way, he encounters many people who may be friend or foe, including the schadenfreude ridden Carstairs and the unusual Bennett Grey - whose mysterious gift of empathy is more of a curse. Full of King's usual twists and turns, the ending comes as quite a surprise. Those non-native to England may get caught up in some of the language and history (I mean, in 2008 America it's hard to relate to the British bureaucracy), but the story makes it worth while.

  • Nikki
    2018-10-21 19:48

    The characters were fully realized and the book deftly plotted. I really enjoyed it, and I am glad there is a second in the series.

  • Andrea LeClair
    2018-11-04 21:41

    I normally adore Laurie King, but the shifting point of view in this book drove me crazy, to the point where I got so angry I didn't want to finish the book. It was written in 3rd person omniscient, so we could leap between people's heads, but it was so jarring every time, I felt like I never got the chance to care for anyone (or hate the bad guys.) Maybe I'll try it again sometime, but it just troubled me.

  • Vicki
    2018-10-28 22:43

    A brilliant historical thriller set against the turmoil of England's 1926 general strike. In it, an FBI agent crosses the Atlantic on the track of a bomber who could push England into outright revolution. He joins forces with a human "touchstone," a shattered WWI veteran with an uncanny knack for discerning the truth, to avert disaster. There is a bevy of fascinating characters and a gobstopper of an ending that will occupy your thoughts long after you finish the book.

  • Sg.00
    2018-11-04 00:57

    well, it's sometimes better to read series in order, but I didn't do that in this case, so I knew who would make it through to #2 in the series beforehand. For me, that works better ~ I don't like the tension of wondering who's going to be killed off. I was going to say that I'm now ready to move on to #3 ~ but I see that's not possible. sigh

  • Karen
    2018-10-31 19:41

    2.5 stars because this novel certainly had its ups and downs.The premise easily caught me: an American agent named Harris Stuyvesant is trying to connect the dots between several bombs that have gone off across cities in the United States, and connect it back to whom he thinks is the culprit. This brings Stuyvesant to London in 1926, where he consults a man named Aldous Carstairs about his case. Stuyvesant's best suspect in his unofficial investigation is an English man named Richard Bunsen, who is actually a well-known leader of the labour party, which has been stirring up problems in England. England at this time is gripped by the fear that it might also go the way of Bolshevik Russia and embrace Communism. But for Carstairs to help Stuyvesant, he wants the latter to give him access to one particular man: Bennett Grey, a man whose life was literally shattered by a shell during the Great War. Since that explosion, Grey has gained an extraordinary ability to detect people's lies and Carstairs once tried using this ability to interrogate people, in lieu of a polygraph or lie-detecting machines that have so far failed. Carstairs will give anything to get access to Grey again, and steers Stuyvesant in Grey's direction because Grey's sister Sarah is involved with the Hurleigh family. And the eldest Hurleigh child, Laura, is Richard Bunsen's lover. Carstairs uses the threat of Sarah getting hurt to force Grey out of hiding in peaceful Cornwall and give Stuyvesant an in to the Hurleigh household - and Bunsen.Confused yet? Honestly, so was I for a while. But I appreciated how tangled up these characters were in past relationships and current obligations. Not to mention, I appreciated the historicism and likely the amount of research King had to uncover about the labour unrest and Communist fears in both England and the United States in this time, as well as prohibition and current politics. The language of Stuyvesant, the American outsider, and the England natives, allowed subtle but clear differences in how they spoke and dealt with one another. The differences also allowed a seemingly natural way for characters to describe how the Hurleigh manor worked and how it had changed since the Great War that blurred class divisions.However, that didn't stop certain chapters from feeling like an episode of Downton Abbey. After all, the majority of the story consisted of dinner parties at the Hurleigh manor, traveling, discussions of women, gossip, unnecessary perspectives given from useless secondary characters, and characters getting roaring drunk. And then Stuyvesant would remember or be reminded that Oh shit, there's a bomber to be caught!To be honest, not a lot of time was spent on solving the main mystery of the novel - who placed the bombs? Really, it was clear from the prologue alone, with the use of a female pronoun, that it was unlikely to be Bunsen. But basically for 98% of the novel, we were strung along with Stuyvesant being adamant that it was Bunsen. But so little time was spent on characterizing Bunsen or having him as an actual character present in the novel, that I really didn't care either way if he was the bomber. Which I guess didn't matter since he wasn't the bomber anyways. See the problem here? He wasn't even set up as a red herring, making the reveal of the real bomber - despite the very real threat of a bomb going off and the character's very well-done characterization - fall flat for me. Not to mention, the sudden conspiracy that Carstairs planned to blow up the Duke of Hurleigh and Bunsen, and frame Stuyvesant (a conspiracy that was revealed literally in the last few pages when it was already foiled) seemed to be a poor explanation for Carstairs' enigmatic and really confusing behaviour throughout the novel. Really, he was a rather useless antagonist whose only major contribution to the story (besides enigmatic information and angering Stuyvesant, Grey and myself) was introducing Bennett Grey (aka my favourite character ever). Also, considering the novel's title is the codename of Grey and his abilities, he actually figured very little into the plot and drive of the novel. Ouch. The plot held me mostly, though it sometimes fell into a slow state of nothing-is-happening, and the story was perhaps 150 pages too long. However, at least the characters were interesting and the setting was wonderful.But I do have to say that the mention of Stuyvesant being seduced by one woman and dangerously falling in love with another in the synopsis is entirely laughable.

  • Liz
    2018-11-16 23:39

    The beginning of this book finds Harris Stuyvesant, hard-boiled agent of the U.S. Justice Department, landing on British soil to investigate a man who he believes is the culprit in a series of tragic bombings that have occurred in several American cities in recent months. However, he soon encounters nothing but dead ends, as all authorities in London are preoccupied by the threat of the General Strike of 1926 looming on the horizon. Then he meets Aldous Carstairs, a non-descript government official who strikes Harris as being singularly sinister and untrustworthy, but it seems he is the only person willing to aid in his investigation. Carstairs, as with most of the general public, is familiar with Stuyvesant's suspect, one Richard Bunsen. Unfortunately for Harris, Bunsen is a prominent figurehead of the Labour Party, who is up to his neck in the politics of the Strike. Carstairs suggests that Harris seek out the enigmatic Bennett Grey for help. After being struck by an artillery shell in the first World War, Grey was left with a unique brand of shellshock: abilities that defy any attempt at scientific explanation. He is capable of sensing a person's innermost conflicts, the things they wish to hide from those around them, and can act as a sort of human lie-detector. Soon Harris finds himself entangled in a web of politics and dangerous schemes, in which everyone seems to have their own sinister agenda, at the heart of which is one of the most noble and respected families in all of England.I've been wanting to read this ever since it came out, and I was excited to finally get the chance to. This book seems to have gotten mixed reviews, and honestly I can see why it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. This is a book that you have to be patient with, there's a lot of set-up and a lot of waiting for things to develop, and the part of the story where the action really starts to take off is considerably shorter than I would have liked. However, I really enjoyed the depth of the characters and the richness of the settings they're placed into. As far as characters go, by far Bennett Grey is the most intriguing of the lot, and I really wish we would have seen more of him. I also have to confess that the lead character, Harris Stuyvesant, surprised me greatly. When I first started the book, I didn't like him much. I thought to myself: "Here's your typical 1920s tough-cop type", but as the story progresses we find that there is so much more than the archetype lurking below the surface. Overall I found that I enjoyed this book, though perhaps not as much as some of the author's other works.

  • Karen
    2018-11-01 21:39

    I liked this book despite often feeling as though I did not know what was going on. This is probably my fault as I explain at the end. I would have liked to give this 4.5 stars, but I can't.Harris Stuyvesant, American investigator, comes to 1926 London to investigate a man he believes is responsible for a series of bombings in the US. Initially, he gets no help from authorities but then is offhandedly directed to a man named Aldous Carstairs. Carstairs says he is familiar with the man he seeks and will help, but that first Stuyvesant must go to Cornwall to meet Bennett Grey. Then, according to Carstairs, he will be able to begin his investigation. Bennett Grey was injured in the War and now finds that he is too sensitive to others and knows things about them that make it impossible to live near people - a kind of heightened awareness brought on by his injuries. What Stuyvesant eventually discovers is that Carstairs wants to use Grey to find out what people are hiding in his own questionable espionage work. Working with Grey, getting him away from his quiet home in Cornwall, and eventually giving Carstairs access to Grey, is what Carstairs requires of Stuyvesant.Lots of espionage as Harris and Bennett work to determine the bomber, to prevent a class war between the unions and the owners in England and thwart a massive general strike. Harris is given help by Carstairs, but the help is always suspect. What is real, what is a lie? Ultimately, a secret gathering is scheduled to let the owners and the union reps along with the Prime Minister, meet and come to an agreement. Will this meeting reveal the saboteur? King is a wonderful writer who has proven herself time and again in her Judith Russell/Sherlock Holmes books. She weaves her knowledge of the times nicely into the story. Now, why did it take me more than a month to read a book like this? I am so addicted to the computer at this time that I am unable to focus on anything for too long. Time to wean myself from that beast. I am not sure how to go about it.

  • Jgrace
    2018-11-08 00:05

    Touchstone – Laurie R. KingAudio performance by Jefferson Mays 4starsThis is the first book of a detective series by Laurie King. I’m already a committed fan of her Holmes/ Mary Russell series and I’ve also enjoyed many of the books featuring the contemporary San Francisco police detective, Kate Martinelli. This book combines some of the best features of those books with a new detective. Like the Mary Russell books, it is historical fiction set in England between the wars. It features a tough, hard-headed FBI agent named Harris Stuyvesant. The storyline resembles the suspense/thriller plots of the contemporary Martinelli series. Harris arrives in England days before the 1926 General Strike. He is on the trail of an anarchist/bomber. As a detective, Harris fits a stereotype; he’s intelligent and brash, a bit too quick with his fists and a push over for a pretty girl. He is not popular with his superiors and is always on the verge of being fired. As a WWI veteran, he also sufferers from lingering shell shock. An extreme form of shell shock is pivotal to the character of Bennett Grey. Grey’s war experience left him crippled with unnaturally heightened perceptions. The growing threat of a terror plot connects Harris, Bennett Grey, and the despicable Major Carstairs of British Intelligence.This book is thick with historical detail. The seething political unrest is set against a British Manor house with its aristocratic inhabitants. Two of the other leading characters, Sarah Grey and Laura Hurleigh, tap into the changing role of women and feminist frustrations. King gives each character a back story with details that encompass the Great War, the rise of socialism, the history and traditions of anarchism, along with their current and failed love affairs. Fans of Laurie King’s police procedural books may feel this story is too slow with all of its background detail. Fans of the Mary Russell series may not like the heightened suspense and its dark violence. I thought the combination worked very well.

  • Kelly
    2018-11-01 21:48

    As a great fan of Laurie R. King, Touchstone was a very interesting read. It was the first stand-alone of hers that I've read and, to be quite honest, I prefer her Kate Martinelli and Mary Russell books. Touchstone is a well-developed story with quite a lot of information about Communism and anarchy in the 1920s both from the point of view of an American and from the British aristocracy. It's quite fascinating information, but it seems as though more emphasis is put on the development of the political situation rather than on the characters. While this shouldn't have bothered me so much if it had been any other book, I love Laurie R. King's characters and, on the whole, these fell a little bit flat. She's a much better series writer when she can build characters over the course of several books, rather than trying to create and contain every character in a single book. I did, though, enjoy meeting Bennett Grey. Although Harris, Sarah, and Carstairs all fell flat at sometimes (and Laura felt like a caricature), Bennett was a wonderful character. I was unable to predict his back story and could never quite predict what he would do throughout the story, although when viewed as a whole, his actions are quite logical. I almost found myself wishing that he would "guest-star" in a Mary Russell book, as he does fit the time-frame and I would adore seeing how she and Holmes reacted to him. In the end, I enjoyed Touchstone, but only because I actually became invested in the characters in the last hundred pages or so. The previous four hundred pages lacked Laurie R. King's usual flair. The lack of her flair, though, takes Touchstone from being quite amazing just to being somewhat good. I'm hesitant to start another stand alone of hers because I'm afraid that it too won't stand up to how good of an author she is.

  • Natalie
    2018-10-23 20:48

    Having only read Ms. King's Holmes/Russell series before starting Touchstone, I was fascinated by the difference of tone and atmosphere upon entering the world of Harris Stuyvesant. It is much darker and more sensual than I expected. There's a sort of smoky, half-lidded, dangerous allure to the entire story, not just to the charismatic radical leader Stuyvesant is chasing.Stuyvesant is a wonderful hero; strongly-principled, determined, sharp-tempered yet deceptively easygoing. His past is one of misadventures, tragedy and lurking secrets. I have a feeling that a dozen books would not be enough to tell his many stories. Bennett Grey, his somewhat reluctant accomplice, is an equally brilliant character. He's badly damaged, heart, body and soul after suffering terrible injuries and heartbreak. One of his few remaining attachments to the world is his sister, Sarah, a buoyant, naive, idealistic young woman who is the perfect foil to Stuyvesant and Bennett's grimmer personalities.Major Carstairs is one of the most repellant characters I've come across in a long while; all slime and cruelty with a thread of disturbing perversity. On the other hand, Bunsen, suspected anarchist, is sophisticated and personable, though oddly insecure. And then there's Laura, the troubled beauty. Is she involved in the bombings, or is she simply caught up in Bunsen's glamour? I could go on and on about the characters. They came alive in such a way I feel like I can almost see their faces.The plot was complex and utterly engrossing. Schemes and counter-schemes abound with suspects everywhere and allies who may be worse than their enemies. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves intricate conspiracies and a mystery that will keep you guessing all the way to the end.

  • Bonnie
    2018-10-27 23:58

    Laurie King has written two mystery series: Mary Russell based on Sherlock Holmes and the Kate Martinelli detective stories. Now, she has written a novel titled Touchstone set in the remotest corner of England, Lands End in Cornwall. It is April, 1926 and Harry Stuyvesant has arrived in England aboard The Spirit of Orleans from New York. He is with the newly formed FBI and on the trail of a man who has set off bombs in New York killing several and leaving his younger brother severely brain damaged. So, this is personal. He visits every possible lead when he is given a name, Aldous Carstairs who headed up a project trying to invent a lie detector and had used Bennett Grey as a standard for recognizing truth, a touchstone. Grey, wounded in the war, was left with the ability to recognize truth in people. Grey has mover as far away from people as possible and still be in England. Following up on information from Carstairs, Harry goes to Grey's little stone cottage and the two become friends. He also meets Grey's sister Sarah and her friend, Laura Hurleigh, an aristocrat from a family dating back to William the Conqueror. He is invited to the estate for a long weekend and most of the action of the book takes place here. The bomber is a man instigating a miners' strike and hoping the outcome will propel into the House of Commons. Harry uncovers an horrifying conspiracy and wonders if he can save Grey caught in the middle.Great description is given to the beauty of England and the budding romance between Harry and Sarah. The novel is a thriller and a thought-provoking analysis of the forces that determine history and human destinies.

  • Eva Mitnick
    2018-11-08 17:38

    American FBI agent Harris Stuyvesant travels to England in 1926 to conduct an undercover investigation of a Labor leader whom Harris suspects has set off several bombs in the U.S. He meets a nasty piece of work named Carstairs who has been conducting experiments using a WWI vet named Bennett Gray who, as a result of his injuries, is so sensitive that he is essentially a human lie detector (lies and deceit cause him unbearable agony) - Harris soon befriends Gray, is invited to a country weekend at the mansion of a Duke, falls in love with Gray's sister (who is working for the Labor leader), and discovers that all is not as it seems.Harris, whose 6'2" frame and beefy good looks are alluded to over and over again, is clearly beloved by the author - he may make some mistakes but essentially he is up to any challenge and possesses the enviable quality of being able to make anyone like him. However, I didn't like him very much - he is too calculating and knowing to play the part of the hale fellow well met, a part that he plays to get the information he needs, but a part that the author also wants to convince the reader is the true Harris. Perhaps as a result of my failure to be totally enamored of Harris, the book went on much too long. English weekends in grand old houses with plenty of servants are something of a cliche, and the love triangles weren't hugely compelling, either. A moderately entertaining read - would have preferred to have been able to whiz through it more quickly.

  • Kat Hagedorn
    2018-11-06 18:45 I shouldn't read too much King in a row. This one was just a slog for me.I think there's a point in an author's career where s/he doesn't get as much love from their editor as they should. Meaning, it is assumed that at a certain point, whatever a popular author writes will be basically well received by the fans, even if s/he starts a new series, takes an entirely different thematic tack, etc. Therefore, more words are a good idea! I appreciate that to some extent, but it results in logy tomes, if nothing else.In this first Harris Stuyvesant novel, at least the first 2/3 of the book is encumbered by ultra-detailed description of settings and scenes, as well as pages upon pages of thought process that, frankly, was already detailed 50-100 pages before. There was only so many times I could handle Harris wondering what Carstairs was up to, or Grey musing on how difficult his life was, or Carstairs himself being a schmuck. I actually started skimming these parts.Yes, the ending is pretty decent (although I saw two major plot points coming because, again, she wrote too damn much about them in advance), but I won't be continuing on to the next book. I'll stick with the magnificent Russell/Holmes series instead.Also, you can't use the name Carstairs unless you actually are channeling the CIA director from Dorothy Gilman's mystery series. I couldn't read that name, each and every time, without thinking of Mrs. Pollifax. Not quite the same feel, these two series!

  • megan
    2018-11-12 18:38

    I was WAITING for this book. It came out on Boxing Day, but I didn't get to the bookstore over and over, and every now and then I'd think: there's a new Laurie R. King mystery out; reading will be good. Because LRK writes some of my favourite mysteries. Her Holmes is infinitely more likeable, more sympathetic, more apt to fallibility and therefore, more believable than most of Holmes in Conan Doyle. She puts Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco (twice!), with Kipling's Kim, and in Jerusalem. Touchstone is not about Holmes. It stands alone, set in the 1920s against the background of strikes and unions. The main character is an American federal agent on a personal vendetta with a slim support from his employer. It's about bombs and the Great War and social classes. I wasn't thrilled by the first two-thirds of the book--it was interesting, but a little slow and clunky. The end of the book, when all the mechanisms had been dragged into place, was excellent. All the bits falling into each other and gathering momentum until the ending crashed through. High-speed thriller at the end and English scenery through the beginning.

  • Bondama
    2018-10-24 16:55

    This book sheds a light on a mostly forgotten part of the "modern age" -- The setting is post WWI (roughly 8 yrs) England. An American agent, employed by the newly established FBI, travels to England in disgust, tracking a bomber. He's disgusted primarily because the new Head of the FBI, J. Edgar Guess Who, has diverted most of the FBI's resources into tracing rumrunners (The Volstead Act - Prohibition) is in force, and the protagonist of this book is far more interested in catching anarchists or "Reds."The story is truly fascinating, simply because the author is one of those rare writers who truly has a gift for making her characters into real people. Their impulses, thought processes, and emotions enable the reader to follow the story, even with an almost complete ignorance of the social unrest in England at the time.I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and although I still prefer Ms. King's Russel/Holmes stories, this one was a rare treat.

  • CatherineMustread
    2018-10-19 16:47

    I'm a fan of Laurie King books and enjoyed this stand-alone novel (as opposed to her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes and Kate Martinelli series) which has some similarities to both series.  Set in the 1920s, as are most of the Mary Russell books; and has to do with crime and politics.I loved the American character, Harris Stuyvesant who is trying to track down a high-profile bomber in England and the other main character, Bennett Grey, a Brit still suffering after affects of the Great War.Well done, Laurie King!

  • Bette Ammon
    2018-11-16 20:00

    Laurie King’s newest historical novel is titled Touchstone and it is amazingly good. Set in England, post World War I, the intricate story revolves around union organizers, conspiracy, and the class struggle in Britain. The main character is a charming renegade American FBI agent named Harris Stuyvesant who is tenacious when it comes to tracking down the culprit who set bombs in the United States (one injured Stuyvesant’s brother). King is a terrific writer, particularly when it comes to historical fare. I love her Mary Russell series featuring Sherlock Holmes and an intrepid young American woman.

  • Elisabeth
    2018-11-03 00:52

    I was home sick for a day, so I re-read this, having just read The Bones of Paris.It's not a pretty story. It's dark; there's torture and misery and post-war ugliness. And yet somehow the result is pure gold. I love these characters. The journey they take may not be a pleasant one, but it leaves them in a better place.Definitely read this before reading Bones of Paris. It isn't necessary for the story, but for the characters it absolutely is.