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Thursday 4 December 2014

‘Touchstone’ by Laurie R King

Published by Allison & Busby,
ISBN: 978-0-7490-1545-9

In London in 1926 the atmosphere is strained as the country is nearing the prospect of a General Strike.  Harris Stuyvesant, a US Bureau of Investigation agent is searching for the perpetrator of a series of bomb attacks in the USA.  He meets with discouragement from most of the British officials he meets but then he is sent to see Aldous Carstairs who takes up his cause.  Carstairs is a rather creepy character who presents as much  danger when he is on your side as when he is against you.  Carstairs wants to embroil a man called Bennett Grey in his activities and sees Harris as a way of getting Bennett out of his seclusion in Cornwall.

The story takes Harris to stay at a stately home with his new friend, Bennett, a man whose First World War injuries have left him with unique abilities in sensing other people's emotions. 

The story carries the reader along with its events and the speculations about the resolution of the strike to be reached.  One's sympathies with the attitudes of people of very differing views are fully aroused.  Speculations about the eventual outcome are realised in unexpected ways; when the denouement is reached it seems an inevitable climax.  This is a stimulating book. 
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer
Laurie King is well known as the author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

Laurie R King is a third generation Northern Californian who has lived most of her life in the San Francisco Bay area. Her background is as mixed as any writer’s, from degrees in theology and managing a coffee store to raising children, vegetables, and the occasional building. King started writing in, and had her first novel published in 1993. Since A Grave Talent, she has averaged a book a year, winning prizes that range from Agatha (a nomination) to Wolfe (Nero, for A Monstrous Regiment of Women.) In 1994,   The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was published, featuring young Mary Russell who becomes an apprentice, then partner of Sherlock Holmes in early 20th century England. Books in that series appear regularly, taking the duo and their cohorts on into the Twenties and around the world, winning admiration far and wide. These historical novels allow King to explore all sorts of ideas: the roots of conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan; feminism and early Christianity; patriotism and individual responsibility, while also having a rousing good time with revisiting the scenes of The Hound of the Baskervilles and Kim, setting a pair of Bedouin nomads down in a grand country house in England, and forging an unlikely relationship between two remarkably similar individuals who happen to be separated by age, sex, and background. King also writes the occasional stand-alone novel—or, more or less stand-alone.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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