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Touchstone: A Stuyvesant & Grey Novel (Harris Stuyvesant Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Laurie R. King
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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 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 Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world—until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set shortly before Britain's disastrous General Strike of 1926, this stand-alone thriller from bestseller King (Keeping Watch) offers impeccable scholarship and the author's usual intelligent prose, but a surfeit of period detail and some weighty themes—the gulf between rich and poor, the insidious nature of both terrorism and the efforts to curb it—overpower the thin plot and stock characters. When Harris Stuyvesant, an investigator for the U.S. Justice Department, arrives in London to look for the mastermind behind a series of terrorist bombings on American soil, he tells Aldous Carstairs, a sinister government official, that his prime suspect is Labour Party leader Richard Bunsen. Carstairs suggests Stuyvesant should talk to Bennett Grey, whose brush with death during WWI has heightened his sense of perception to the point that he's a kind of human lie detector (he's the touchstone of the title), and to Lady Laura Hurleigh, Bunsen's lover and a passionate advocate of his brand of socialism. The threat of violence at a secret summit meeting held at the Hurleigh family's country house about preventing the strike provides some mild suspense. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This suspense novel unfolds slowly, but King is so adept at telling a story that the pace never lags. …. an entertaining mix of ambition, intrigue, social unrest and unfettered idealism.”—Arizona Republic

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 918 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 26, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W96882
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,590 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars building Jerusalem January 4, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Union men and Stanley Baldwin and an FBI agent at King Arthur's court - what an unlikely mix. And yet King weaves all this and more into a tapestry as vivid as any hanging in the Victoria and Albert. If you've read bits and pieces about the General Strike of 1926, you will fill in some gaps with Touchstone, but don't confuse this with a book about an historical event.

This is a book about people. The Duke's daughter with a bone-deep sense of duty, the archetypal English gentleman whose body bears the wounds of the Great War and whose soul remains at some eternal Agincourt, the half-caste hero of the trenches caught in the warp and woof of the British class system - each one is going to break your heart, but never quite in the way that you expect.

Fair warning: the book is a slow start.

Until you begin to care about the people - about page 175 for me - the multiple agendas of the personal and the political seem too grim for recreational reading. But, if you are one of King's faithful readers, you will keep turning pages until smitten with the beauty of the settings - nature and art - and lulled into cozy fascination by the words and actions of pretty people in an exquisite landscape, England at its most magical. And then you are hooked. The mists of Avalon part and you see the players' political commitments as inevitable manifestations of their love of family, love of country.

Here we find politics and art and a love story - two, no, three love stories - and a family saga and (eventually) a truly nail-biting thriller. But you have to put in the time to get to know these people and their England.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story; way longer than it needs to be January 4, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is not one of King's Russell or Martinelli mysteries; this is a stand-alone thriller set in England shortly after the end of the first World War and the two most important things you should know about it are l. that the last 90 pages are absolutely gripping, and 2. that before you get there, you're going to have to slog through 458 pages of meticulously detailed descriptions, digressions and setup.

Few writers write descriptive material more beautifully than Laurie King. But she does have a tendency to overdo it. And never moreso than in this book. Example: It takes our protagonist three and a half entirely uneventful pages just to walk from his bedroom to the drawing room. Another: As a conclusion begins ever so slowly to build, one of the principals sends the hero a message marked urgent; he dashes off to meet her in the chapel but before we learn why, we must pause for a detailed examination of a painting of a Madonna and Child on the chapel wall. Well, you say to yourself, that's surely because this painting is going to figure prominently in the denouement to come, right? Nope, it doesn't. But this digression and dozens like it do explain why this book runs some 200 pages longer than King's others. The plot itself doesn't need the extra space. And her settings and characters do not seem to come more alive on the page because of it.

I'm giving this one four stars because King is such a terrific writer, and because two of the six principal characters--Bennett and Laura--are exceptionally interesting and well drawn, and the ending's a doozy. Also I think she really pours heart and soul into these stand-alone books and I hope she'll do more of them. But please not at such length.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb historical December 29, 2007
By April 1926 although several years have passed since the armistice ended the combat the United States and England are still recovering from the War to End all Wars. Three bombs went off in a relatively short time in the United States causing much damage and killing innocent people. Harris Stuyvesant is determined to catch the bomber, not because he is a Bureau of Investigation agent but because one of the devices turned his favorite brother into a vegetable. He tracks the evidence to up-and-coming charismatic leftist politician, Richard Bunsen.

Trying to get close to the man he plays five degrees starting with meeting Aldous Carstairs who sends him to a former patient of his Bennet Grey whose sister Sara is friendly with Lady Laura Hurleigh who is Richard's lover. Bennet was injured in the war and came through with certain abilities. He is a human lie detector and has a sense of what people are thinking and planning. He agrees to go with Harris to a Hurleigh weekend party. Tensions are high because the miner's are going on the strike and a general strike is planned to bring the government down. Lady Laura is planning a weekend where the two sides can talk away from the noise of the public and media but there is another agenda being played, one Harris intends to stop.

TOUCHSTONE is a thick juicy story that shows England between the two world wars and how the government feels about the unions. Harris is in England to bring vigilante justice to the bomber and ends up falling for Sarah. He comes to care for Bennet and tries to rescue him from Carstairs clutches. Carstairs wants to be the power in the shadows that steers England on a course that seems acceptable on the surface but is deviously deceptive. Laurie R King creates fascinating characters and places them in several subplots so that the reader understands what motivates them.

Harriet Klausner
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not Mary Russell, but good read.
Read this after reading all the Mary Russell novels. It did not disappoint.
Published 1 month ago by clooluss
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this author.
I love Laurie R. King. Her books are always gripping. She keeps me guessing until the very end.
Published 1 month ago by Karen L. Fedorov
5.0 out of 5 stars Touchstone:A Stuyvesant & Grey Novel by Laurie R King
A complex mystery/Suspense novel. Definitely not a one day read. Setting: England after WWI, characters: American agent on a mission, a bomber, and English men and women learning... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Patricia Foust
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleep-killing and breathtaking - a most excellent read from Laurie R....
This not being a Mary Russel novel, I had disregarded it at first. However, as I had a gift certificate to Amazon. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Susanne Kirstine Andreasen Nielsen
4.0 out of 5 stars First in the Series
First in a series. I had actually read the second book already but this one sets up the characters and their personalities. It was a little slow because it was very methodical. Read more
Published 4 months ago by TexasReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved reading this book…best in awhile.
Loved this book - I am going to pick up the 2nd book in the series (of two) at the library today!
A great yarn about Harris Stuyvesant, an American in England in 1926, years... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jacque L
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and Informative Mistery
In the end I enjoyed Touchstone although there were parts in the early 1/2 of the story that were hard follow.
Published 5 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read.
I enjoyed Ms. King's character development and the extraordinary abilities of Grey to read others. The plot was well developed without cheap tricks to solve the mystery.
Published 6 months ago by Rosie Grady
5.0 out of 5 stars spying to the ninth degree
Laurie Kings ability to make me keep turning pages well into the middle of the night is just part of the story. Her writing is superb and her story telling is great. Read more
Published 6 months ago by artist
4.0 out of 5 stars This writer doesn't know how to do a poor job
Ms King has an excellent reputation for intellectually stimulating novels and this is another. It makes me feel smarter just reading her work. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

New York Times bestselling crime writer Laurie R. King writes both series and standalone novels.

In the Mary Russell series (first entry: The Beekeeper's Apprentice), fifteen-year-old Russell meets Sherlock Holmes on the Sussex Downs in 1915, becoming his apprentice, then his partner. The series follows their amiably contentious partnership into the 1920s as they challenge each other to ever greater feats of detection.

The Kate Martinelli series, starting with A Grave Talent, concerns a San Francisco homicide inspector, her SFPD partner, and her life partner. In the course of the series, Kate encounters a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, a manifestation of the goddess Kali and an eighty-year-old manuscript concerning'Sherlock Holmes.

King also has written stand-alone novels--the historical thriller Touchstone, A Darker Place, two loosely linked novels'Folly and Keeping Watch--and a science fiction novel, Califia's Daughters, under the pseudonym Leigh Richards.

King grew up reading her way through libraries like a termite through balsa before going on to become a mother, builder, world traveler, and theologian.

She has now settled into a genteel life of crime, back in her native northern California. She has a secondary residence in cyberspace, where she enjoys meeting readers in her Virtual Book Club and on her blog.

King has won the Edgar and Creasey awards (for A Grave Talent), the Nero (for A Monstrous Regiment of Women) and the MacCavity (for Folly); her nominations include the Agatha, the Orange, the Barry, and two more Edgars. She was also given an honorary doctorate from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Check out King's website,, and follow the links to her blog and Virtual Book Club, featuring monthly discussions of her work, with regular visits from the author herself. And for regular LRK updates, follow the link to sign up for her email newsletter.

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