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Touchstone (Harris Stuyvesant #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,556 Ratings  ·  397 Reviews
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 year
Hardcover, 548 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jan 27, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: supernatural, fiction
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 melanc ...more
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
Katherine Coble
When you'd rather fold laundry than read a's time to put the book aside and move on to something else.
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 ...more
Celia Powell
Apr 10, 2008 Celia Powell rated it really liked it
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 th
Jun 13, 2008 Sfdreams rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who enjoy period pieces???
Shelves: reviewed
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 abiliti
Andrea LeClair
Mar 01, 2008 Andrea LeClair rated it it was ok
Shelves: itallwentwrong
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.
Jun 26, 2008 WK rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lrk
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
Feb 15, 2008 Aunty Sarah rated it did not like it
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!
Feb 12, 2008 Robin rated it it was amazing
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 mechan
Laura Dugan
Jun 10, 2008 Laura Dugan rated it really liked it
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 sc ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
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 a
Jan 08, 2008 Vicki rated it it was amazing
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.
May 01, 2016 Karen rated it liked it
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
Kat Hagedorn

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
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, h
Aug 25, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it
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 pol
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 offic ...more
Eva Mitnick
Jan 01, 2009 Eva Mitnick rated it liked it
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 a ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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
Jan 21, 2008 megan rated it liked it
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.

Apr 19, 2010 Bondama rated it really liked it
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 o ...more
Catherine  Mustread
May 01, 2013 Catherine Mustread rated it really liked it
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 d
Bette Ammon
Jun 13, 2008 Bette Ammon rated it it was amazing
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 histori ...more
Nov 08, 2013 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
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.
I wish I had read this before I read The Bones of Paris because this gives you the characters' backgrounds and how they became connected with one another. It is interesting the way Laurie King sets her books either just before or just after great events. Her Mary Russell books are after the Great War (Mary being the age of the century she was young for that war), this one being the days and weeks before the General Strike and The Bones of Paris just before the market crash of '29.
Watch out for c
Apr 01, 2014 Deborah rated it liked it
An American FBI agent, fresh from the labor unrest in the US in the 1920's goes to in Britain in search of potential terrorist. It's the time of the miners' unrest and strikes in Br of the 1920's. In his search, Harris Stuyvesant discovers many hidden agendas including the possibility of a plot to overthrow the British government. Stuyvesant also discovers the not-so-hidden talents of Bennett Grey. The after-effects of being nearly killed by a bomb in World War I has left Grey with a rare and te ...more
Kate Forsyth
Feb 23, 2014 Kate Forsyth rated it it was amazing
Laurie R. King is best known for her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes historical mystery series in which a brilliant young woman becomes first a student – and then the lover – of the brilliant and enigmatic detective. I’ve read quite a few of this series and really enjoyed them. Laurie R. King is as interested in the internal lives of her characters as much as in the actual solving of a crime, and so her books are rich, complex, psychologically acute, and slow. Touchstone is the first in a new serie ...more
May 06, 2015 Simon rated it really liked it
I'm not bragging, but I tagged the bomber immediately, and I am pretty much betting that anyone who reads murder mysteries will do the same. King did a character similar to Bennett Grey in one of the Russell/Holmes novels, so while this is an interesting gloss --- Grey isn't fey --- it isn't exactly unknown territory for her fans, of which I am certainly one. She does convey the flavor of life in Britain after World War I, and since she is dealing with characters who inhabit different societal s ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Lbaker rated it really liked it
I hoped that this was a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes book, but it wasn't.

It is a spy - suspense - thriller full of twists and turns set in post WWI England, with an American agent named Harris Stuyvesant trying to untangle the chaos of a miners strike, fascists, women's rights, upper class, lower class, radicals, and a man who may be able to read minds, or at least read people.

I love Laurie R. King's writing, her flow and language.
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
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King's most recent novel, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
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Harris Stuyvesant (2 books)
  • The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant, #2)

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