Leading up to the publication of Lockdown, in June, I’ve been thinking about the nature of my other writing, that not set in the rather whimsical world of Russell & Holmes. Such as Touchstone, which began the Stuyvesant & Grey series.
This week’s proposed women’s strike wasn’t quite as much of a Thing as England’s 1926 General Strike, when Parliament feared that the Communists were about to take over the country. But when I wrote Touchstone,
I was fascinated by the idea that in the minds of the voting public and the ruling classes (which yes, we still have) were in terror that Britain was about to become a satellite of Moscow. Really?
I also had been thinking of writing another book with a male protagonist, which I’d done in Keeping Watch. Harris Stuyvesant is what used to be called a man’s man, a big, brusque muscular American Bureau of Investigation agent more than happy to use his fists to settle an argument. Naturally, he does have a soft and reflective side, but he tries not to get too distracted by it. Instead, the book’s reflective side comes from Captain Bennett Grey and his sister, Sarah. Bennett is a damaged English soldier with some unusual talents. His sister is involved with a political movement.
With Harris as the protagonist, the voice of these two books becomes drastically different from that of the Russell series. For one thing, the English is American rather than British, but more than that, they’re boy-books, infused with the swagger and aggressive reactions of Harris himself.
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 Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world—until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new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.
I’ve called Touchstone my 9/11 book, since it burrows into the impulses of terrorist acts. Why does a person become a terrorist? What in their background makes them imagine that an act of violence is the only way to get out a message? And beyond that, why believe that this does the cause the least bit of good?
This is not a theme that fits into the world of Russell & Holmes.
My Touchstone page, with excerpts and order info, is here.