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(Harris Stuyvesant #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,271 ratings  ·  473 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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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,271 ratings  ·  473 reviews

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Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

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
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, supernatural
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
Katherine Coble
When you'd rather fold laundry than read a's time to put the book aside and move on to something else.
Apr 01, 2008 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
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
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
Feb 21, 2008 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
Andrea LeClair
Mar 01, 2008 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 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 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!
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wh ...more
Apr 24, 2016 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
Jan 23, 2008 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 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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-century
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.
Jan 08, 2008 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.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rb-digital
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
Aug 25, 2015 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
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
Sep 08, 2013 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
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 damag ...more
Eva Mitnick
Jan 01, 2009 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
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
Jan 21, 2008 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 11, 2010 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 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.

Bette Ammon
Jan 14, 2008 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
Dec 02, 2011 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.
Apr 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
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Laurie R. King Vi...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Touchstone by Laurie R. King - VBC September 2013 38 57 Sep 25, 2013 08:20AM  
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King's 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshir

Other books in the series

Harris Stuyvesant (2 books)
  • The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant, #2)