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Touchstone (2007)

by Laurie R. King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Harris Stuyvesant (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6743325,092 (3.77)55
His existence shattered by the Great War, Bennett Grey is investigated by an American agent who thinks he may be useful for protecting national security.
  1. 00
    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (amanda4242)
    amanda4242: Bennett Grey is kind of a less damaged Sebastian Flyte.
  2. 00
    Farthing by Jo Walton (amanda4242)

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» See also 55 mentions

English (32)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I loved this book!! Another amazing read, and very thorough, too! The main characters were compelling and I am going to miss them, now that I am done... :( ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Excellent. Lots of strange pieces to it that don't always gell. I thought the most interesting and puzzling part was the ending - so I can't talk about it without spoiling it. Definitely worth the read. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I always enjoy Laurie King's books, and have read all of her Kate Martinelli and Mary Russell books, but somehow overlooked this quasi-standalone novel. I enjoyed the characters and the period details, but somehow couldn't quite accept everything as realistic. Despite that, I couldn't put the book down and continued reading via Kindle on my phone in the car! ( )
  Spencer28 | Oct 21, 2016 |
Touchstone – Laurie R. King
Audio performance by Jefferson Mays

This 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.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |

Maybe 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! ( )
1 vote khage | Oct 21, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Laurie R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mays, JeffersonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Michael and Josefa, with thanks for giving far, far beyond duty's call.
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His existence shattered by the Great War, Bennett Grey is investigated by an American agent who thinks he may be useful for protecting national security.

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