Incendiary Dramatics

I decided I needed a light read after that Ellen Mattson novel, and reached for one of my favourites: Laurie R King. Unfortunately, I have read all her Mary Russell-novels (write more of them, Mrs King!), so I thought I´d get aquainted with another hero of hers, Harris Stuyvesant. And I was really seduced by her moodboard for the novel.

The setting is familiar, for King readers. We are once again in London, it´s the 20´s, there are flappers, social destabilization, miner´s strikes, and Europe is trying to bounce back from the calamity of the Great War. The plot is not unlike that of "Garment of Shadows": things are happening behind the scenes of real-life political events and our hero is caught up in it, rubbing shoulders with historical figures of importance as well as fictional characters.

Land´s End 2011.
Harris Stuyvesant is an American agent, working for the organization that would later become the FBI. He comes to England looking for a terrorist bomber, driven by rage and grief over some personal losses that have made him go against his boss; he does not actually have Hoover´s backing and is funding the trip himself. He has a few leads and try to get the attention of the British authorities - most officials just brush him off, but finally he gets someone´s attention. He has to travel to Cornwall, to Land´s End, to find a man who might be the key to solving his puzzle, a man who is unlikely to want to help him. It all takes off from there.

Stuyvesant is a veteran of the trench war, and so is another important character. Next year it will be 100 years since the start of the First World War - something that is sure to be remembered. Somehow, the carnage of the trenches has been overshadowed by the Second World War, at least in the collective memory of this country. The other day - in the middle of reading this novel - I found this on the internet. Chilling images in 3D, not in the best shape, but you still get a sense of what someone of Stuyvesant´s generation would have been coming from.

This novel is, first and foremost, an entertainment read. However, King´s extensive knowledge of this period also makes it educational and makes me want to know more about the Great War. And a plot with terrorist bombers isn´t entirely passé, is it? This is a good-paced story, and if you are a sucker for those upper class weekends at great houses in the country, running downstairs and upstairs, fox-hunting with horse&hound, fancy dress for dinner, and hobnobbing with dukes and what have you, you will get your fix.

The follow-up, "The Bones of Paris" is not yet published on Kindle, but I´m hoping they will have come around to it for Christmas. Another Stuyvesant story is just the thing for a break from all the jingle bells!


  1. this sounds like an interesting read. ww1 trench warfare is just hard to believe, even after seeing films about it and photos from the time. thx for that link. chilling.

    1. I read another novel set in the trenches a few years ago, Ben Elton´s "The First Casualty". Also a detective story, entertainment read, so-so compared to King, but I have never forgotten the way he made the every-day war for the common soldier come to life. Clearly, he had done his research, and that book is forever etched in my mind because of it.

  2. I started reading my first Mary Russell novel after I read this post. Thanks for the recommendation, I'm having a great time with the book! That series is very long, though, right? So it may be a while before I can get started with this one.

    1. Ah, yes, you have many fine adventures in front of you! My mum-in-law just finished the first two Mary Russell-books (the only ones translated to Swedish so far) and she loved them, too. I suppose I most enjoy the playfulness of it all, I imagine King having so much fun writing it!