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Series: Stuyvesant & Grey #1
Published by: Bantam Books
Release Date: 2008


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 Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world—until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new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


Nominated for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award

“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 

"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."
Booklist, starred review


Read Laurie’s thoughts on writing Touchstone on her blog, Mutterings.

What is a touchstone?

1926 politics:
The general strike
…its chronology as seen by the Trades Union

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 (oddly, there is no mention of Hurleigh):
Owlpen Manor

Visit the Pinterest page to view the gallery


The doorman took one look at the figure that lurched into his tidy foyer and moved to return the straying lunatic to the streets. Stuyvesant pushed down the impulse to deck another Brit and summoned his most charming, lop-sided smile, assuring the man that he did, in fact, have an appointment with Mr. Carstairs, although he’d had a little accident, if he could just phone..?

Without turning his back on the disheveled American, the man went back to his desk to pick up his telephone. He spoke, listened, grunted, and hung up.

“If you’ll just wait a minute.”

It was less time than that when a weedy specimen with freckles and twitchy hands came through the connecting door, and stopped dead. He looked at Stuyvesant, and at the doorman (who gave him a What-did-I-say? shrug) then stood back, holding the door.

“Mr. Carstairs?” Stuyvesant asked. “His secretary,” the man replied. “The Major is expecting you.”

Read the full excerpt