His existence shattered by the Great War, Bennett Grey is investigated by an American agent who thinks he may be useful for protecting national security. U.S. Bureau of Investigation agent Harris Stuyvesant's first inclination is to let his fists do the talking. But he's well out of his jurisdiction, having traveled across the Atlantic to dig up clues on an Englishman he believes responsible for terrorist acts in the States. After turning up a lead that draws him from London far into the English countryside, Harris meets Bennett Grey, a shell-shocked veteran whose war wounds left him with a unique talent that may hold the key to cracking the case.
©2007 Laurie R. King; (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC
I absolutely love the characters in Touchstone, but I didn't find the story as compelling as some of King's other works.
Bennett Gray, the "touchstone" of the title, is meant to be a main character and is surprisingly sidelined in the action. He's there, tagging along at a number of points, but not really part of the action if that makes sense. This is a disappointment as he's more interesting than some of the others, but it also makes for a bit of awkwardness as you wonder just what the point of him is at times. His unusual skill in heightened awareness or rapid cognition aren't really used in the "dectection" of the mystery, but rather as a secondary plot.
Lead dectector, Harry Stuyvesant, is also complex and likable, plus there's a good, if somewhat obvious, villain.
The weak point here is the plot. Unfortunately, the end doesn't really surprise. This is in part because the lead suspect is a) announced as such from the start, and b) gets very little screen time. And there are very few other options as to who it might be. The main plot detours from it's original focus, and the secondary plot doesn't tie in well, so it's a bit of a jumble in places.
In the end, you want to know more about the characters, want to know what happens to them next and really want a better book for them ??? all of which is happening as King says "The book I'll be writing this year  is set in Paris, 1929, and is about some of the characters from Touchstone."
Jefferson Mays was a fine narrator, though something felt "off" to me about his voice for Bennett Gray. Nothing specifically wrong with it, but just not how I "hear" Bennett. And his voice for American Stuyvesant was a good effort, but sounded stilted especially with Harry's constant use of slang.
Like all of Ms. King's stories, this one unfolds slowly and deliberately. Usually this serves to build suspense, but it didn't work so well in this story. There were a few places that I found rather tedious and just couldn't wait to get past. Overall, though, it is a good story, rich with scenic detail, history, and interesting characters.
Narrator Jefferson Mays did a very good job with the material. He has a strong masculine voice, but was still able to do the female voices convincingly. He carried off the various British accents very well.
I am a big fan of this author. I've enjoyed so many of her audiobooks but this one lacked tension. It just sorta lagged. There was no excitement, no characters I fell in love with, just sorta bland... I liked it enough for three stars.
Touchstone by Laurie R King
Not sure it was the author’s intent, but the story was a great reminder to this reader that the following proverb is not always true. kbf
‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ proverb
The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror's territory is termed the enemy.
The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror).
I enjoyed the book, very good story telling and vivid characters.
"Will there be a General Strike?"
Laurie R King's book, as in several of her other books, centres around the First World War. It takes place in 1926, just before the General Strike, but all her characters have been affected by the War. Her main character is an American Bureau of Investigation agent, in England to track down an anarchist bomber. It is a story involving the rich and radical, with country house weekends, beautiful and dedicated women, a deeply injured officer, a really unpleasant English bureaucrat and a charismatic supporter of the working class.
All read beautifully by Jefferson Mays.
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