by Laurie R. King
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Historical
Ages: 16 and up
New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King takes us to a
remote cottage in Cornwall in this gripping tale of intrigue, terrorism,
and explosive passions that begins with a visit to a recluse code-named
. . . Touchstone.
Once studied by British intelligence for his excruciating
sensitivity to the world’s turmoil, Bennett Grey has withdrawn from the
world–until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to assess
Grey’s potential as a weapon in a new kind of warfare.
Harris Stuyvesant needs Grey’s help to enter a realm where the rich and
the radical exist side by side–a heady mix of power, celebrity, and
sexuality that conceals the free world’s deadliest enemy. Soon
Stuyvesant finds himself dangerously seduced by one woman and–even more
dangerously–falling in love with another. As he sifts through secrets
divulged and kept, he uncovers the target of a horrifying conspiracy,
and wonders if he can trust anyone, even his touchstone.
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 misadventures, tragedy and lurking secrets. I have a feeling that a dozen books would not be enough to tell his many stories. Bennett Grey, his somewhat reluctant accomplice, is an equally brilliant character. He's badly damaged, heart, body and soul after suffering terrible injuries and heartbreak. One of his few remaining attachments to the world is his sister, Sarah, a buoyant, naive, idealistic young woman who is the perfect foil to Stuyvesant and Bennett's grimmer personalities.
Major Carstairs is one of the most repellant characters I've come across in a long while; all slime and cruelty with a thread of disturbing perversity. On the other hand, Bunsen, suspected anarchist, is sophisticated and personable, though oddly insecure. And then there's Laura, the troubled beauty. Is she involved in the bombings, or is she simply caught up in Bunsen's glamour? I could go on and on about the characters. They came alive in such a way I feel like I can almost see their faces.
The plot was complex and utterly engrossing. Schemes and counter-schemes
abound with suspects everywhere and allies who may be worse than their enemies. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves intricate conspiracies and a mystery that will keep you guessing all the way to the end.
Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).
I rate it a 6.10 for 3 uses of the f-word as well as some mild and mid-level swearing.
I give it a 6.10 for a fade-away, a scene of sexuality, multiple references and innuendos.
I rate it a 6.10 for a flashback to battle, mild skirmishing, attempted murder and a couple of things I can't specify without giving away plot details.