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Touchstone (Harris Stuyvesant, #1)
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Touchstone (Harris Stuyvesant #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,044 ratings  ·  330 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 . . .

It’s eight years after
Kindle Edition, 560 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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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 powerf
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
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
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
Andrea LeClair
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Aunty Sarah
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!
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
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
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
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.

Jun 13, 2008 Sfdreams rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Bette Ammon
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
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.
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
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
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.
I was captivated by this novel from page 1. Touchstone has a very fragmented introduction consisting of three events that are poignant moments leading up to the motive for the whole book to take place. While these episodes are disjointed the novel itself reads in a complete linear style. The raw emotion contained in the opening episode of the death of a small child was really striking because the narrator is anonymous. It's obviously a woman, and a wealthy one at that, but you don't find out unt ...more
This is a pretty good spy story that keeps you guessing who the real bad guy is. It takes place in the English countryside eight years after WW1 and I had to keep reminding myself about that. It seemed more modern. An American intelligence officer is searching for a radical bomber amoung the friends and family of a rich, landed English gentleman, with the help of a soldier whose wounds give him a painful feeling for the truth.
Aug 25, 2008 Agathafrye rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historic fiction fans
Touchstone took a little while to get to the punch, but it ended up being a very well researched and suspenseful look into life in England during the 1926 strikes. King always does a really great job of describing settings and characters in great detail. I learned quite a bit about the political and societal atmosphere in 1920's England by reading this book. The ending almost surprised me, but not quite.
I've read all of King's Russell-Holmes series to date and two of her Kate Martinelli series s I thought I would check one of her non-serial books. The book is immediately engaging yet I found it difficult to read, perhaps because her characters are so engaging and the circumstances are often so disturbing. One of her main characters is left with "excruciating sensitivity" after his experiences in World War I; some of this manifests as an ability to pick up physical clues and clues to behavior si ...more
I love Laurie R. King's Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series and saw her speak about the second book in this series, The Bones of Paris, on the PBS show Well-Read. I had hesitated about trying them but picked up this one on the strength of the interview. As always with King, it was very well-written and the plot was intriguing. I had a hard time getting into the Harris Stuyvesant character, though, and I'm not sure why. The brash American who hides his brains behind an "aw shucks" façade idea ...more
Laurie R. King is one of my favorite authors. This book involves new characters and takes place in 1926 at the historic home of a duke and duchess just outside of Cornwall. Rich characters and dark motives make this a very readable book.
I realy give a five star for a book. It has to be truly remarkable for me to give that. And Touchstone is that book. This I listened to on disc driving around. This version for me, the narration was excellent. Having the different accents helped for me too because there was some run on sentences and thoughts that I personally would have to reread a few times to make sure who was saying what and was that thought or was that said allowed.
The characters all were so brilliantly developed even the g
I love Laurie R. King's Russell/Holmes series. This is the first of another series, one involving an American - Harris Stuyvesant - Bureau of Investigation agent (post WWI) and a British survivor of WWI - Bennett Grey - (who has been left with such a sensitivity of other people's emotions that he has had to retreat to remote Cornwall to severely limit his contact with other people). The plot is complicated, centering around people involved in the Great Strike of 1926, and the people who have sta ...more
This is what happens when editors go on extended vacations.

Touchstone is a great psychological thriller. The reader is right inside of everybody's psyches. We know people's backstories, what makes them tick. King does a great job of evoking a particular time and place in history.

But the great premise makes the novel that resulted even more disappointing. The shifts in point of view are so rapid that they're distracting. Twice the author forgets how many daughters the family that is central to
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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 The Bones of Paris sees Touchstone's Harris Stuyvesant and Bennett Grey find the darkness beneath the light of 1929 Paris. In the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, a brilliant teen bec
More about Laurie R. King...

Other Books in the Series

Harris Stuyvesant (2 books)
  • The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant, #2)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1) A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2) O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5) A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3) The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)

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