Wednesday, June 25, 2008
by Laurie R King
The year is 1926 when Harris Stuyvesant, an investigator for the U.S. Justice Department, arrives in London to investigate a man suspected in a series of bombings in the U.S. Unfortunately, this suspect is a respected, up and coming member of the Labor party and Stuyvesant has a hard time finding any sort of answers. After nearly giving up due to dead-ends, Stuyvesant meets up with Aldous Carstairs, a government man that is willing to help Stuyvesant out. Carstairs knows a man with "special" abilities who might be able to help them. This man, Bennett Grey, has a sister that works fairly closely with Stuyvesant's suspect. After meeting with Grey, Stuyvesant finds himself spending the weekend with Grey, Grey's sister and the suspect (Richard Bunson) at a blue-blood English estate for the weekend. When Stuyvesant finds out there might be a bomb planted at a top secret meeting intended to prevent the great strike, he ends up back at the estate trying to save the lives of those around him.
I am a pretty big Laurie King fan. My favorite detective is her Mary Russell, but I have to admit that I haven't read any of her other works. However, the description of Touchstone really peaked my interest, so I decided to try it out.
Overall my response is mostly "meh." The mystery itself was rather fun, and the narrator rotates between Stuyvesant, Carstairs, and Grey which I really enjoyed. I thought Bennett Grey was a fascinating character that was fairly well developed, and I was sorry when the story ended that his story had to end as well. I would love to know how his everyday life will be. While quickly paced, the end sequence with the bomb didn't quite have the thrill factor that I was seeking either. It's kind of hard to explain, but usually when I get to the ending sequence and we don't know who will live or die I can't put the book down. This time I had to (for various reasons), but I didn't jump back in as quickly as I could have.
The book was also very slow. It takes a long time to get into the story and figure out what's happening. While I liked the characters (even the bad guys) and wanted to know what happened to them, I kept thinking "Ok! get on with it!"
I also thought there was a lot of sex/sexual references throughout this book. Once or twice they were used to move the story along, but mostly it just seemed to be there to be there. Probably it wouldn't shock anyone other than me, but I felt like it was there for the shock factor. It really bothered me, though I should be clear that I am pretty much a prude. There is also a fair amount of harsh language that again, I didn't really think added anything to the story. Both of these things really took away from the story, and I didn't enjoy the book nearly as much as I would have without them.
3 out of 5 stars - mostly for the characters
Posted by KT at 7:14 PM