Touchstone (2007)


ISBN 978-0-553-80355-6 UK ISBN–978-1-84722-005-9 (May 2008) A touchstone is used to test the purity of precious metals. A man with such a test can control the value of gold. How much more could be controlled by a man with a human touchstone? 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 Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world–until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new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 need 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…

Download PDF excerpt from Touchstone.

What they say

“Laurie R. King’s meticulously plotted tale of an ordinary man with an extraordinary gift, Touchstone, is an Anglophile’s treat of sixth sense and sensibility.” — Entertainment Weekly

Booklist starred review: In England in 1926, [King’s characters] form the points of an intricate star drawn around the old families and the coming general strike, the legacy of the war, and the desperation of poverty and class struggle. King works her mastery not only in a vivid and sometimes terrifying psychological study but also through gorgeous evocation of the English landscape, detailed description of the dynamics in a country house inhabited by the same family for half a millenium, and perceptive analysis of the intricate complexities of politics, power and gender, and social justice. Cinematic in the intensity of its shifting points of view and boasting characters so charismatic that we can hear not only their voices but also the sound of their breathing, King’s latest combines a compelling plot with a richly, even lushly, imagined time and place.


What is a touchstone?

1926 politics

The general strike

…its chronology as seen by the Trades Union

…and from a Marxist point of view


Emma Goldman’s definition

History of the FBI/ Bureau of Investigation

Social life

English life between the wars

Flapper dress, jazz age suiting


Standing stones Land’s End

Gloucestershire (sorry, I could find no mention of Hurleigh)


Owlpen Manor

For a timeline and various links, go to Mary Russell’s World


with thanks to Dick Griffiths

The Hurleighs’ Oxford Morris


Richard Bunsen’s Humber Saloon

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  1. Karen Tynes on February 28, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Just finished Touchstone and loved it.Please, tell me there will more adventures of these characters! Or at least give us a hint of what the LETTER said at the end!

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