Thursday, February 23, 2023

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings


It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Today I'm featuring a current read, Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King. The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.


Beginning:  Prologue

Then -- Southern Oregon

The man in the dripping Army poncho paused to shove back his hood and stand, head cocked, trying to make out the half-heard sound. A minute later, a car came into view, half a mile or so down the hill--a big white Pontiac, struggling to keep on the road. The man leaned on his shovel, judging the contest between the treacherous surface--the way up to the commune was unpaved, rutted, steep, and slick with the endless rain--and the determined car, which obviously had good tires.


Page 56:  "They have archives, I'm seeing what might be there."


My thoughts: A commune? Archives? These settings piqued my interest enough to start reading and the author is appealing to me as well. I've enjoyed a few of her other stand-alone novels. So far, I'm enjoying the mystery unfolding in this story about a wealthy family, an inheritance, and the discovery of human remains on their property.


From GoodReads:  A fifty-year-old cold case involving California royalty comes back to life--with potentially fatal consequences--in this gripping standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

A magnificent house, vast formal gardens, a golden family that shaped California, and a colorful past filled with now-famous artists: the Gardener Estate was a twentieth-century Eden.

And now, just as the Estate is preparing to move into a new future, restoration work on some of its art digs up a grim relic of the home's past: a human skull, hidden away for decades.

Inspector Raquel Laing has her work cut out for her. Fifty years ago, the Estate's young heir, Rob Gardener, turned his palatial home into a counterculture commune of peace, love, and equality. But that was also a time when serial killers preyed on innocents--monsters like The Highwayman, whose case has just surged back into the public eye.

Could the skull belong to one of his victims?

To Raquel--a woman who knows all about colorful pasts--the bones clearly seem linked to The Highwayman. But as she dives into the Estate's archives to look for signs of his presence, what she unearths begins to take on a dark reality all of its own.

Everything she finds keeps bringing her back to Rob Gardener himself. While he might be a gray-haired recluse now, back then he was a troubled young Vietnam vet whose girlfriend vanished after a midsummer festival at the Estate.

But a lot of people seem to have disappeared from the Gardener Estate that summer when the commune mysteriously fell apart: a young woman, her child, and Rob's brother, Fort.

The pressure is on, and Raquel needs to solve this case--before The Highwayman slips away, or another Gardener vanishes.

This Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog,  It cannot be republished without attribution.



  1. This book sounds like it really has potential. Plus I love the setting. It isn't often that books are set in Southern Oregon.

  2. I'm also intrigued by the quotes. Have a great weekend!

  3. I'm glad you're enjoying the book. The quotes are intriguing.

  4. Love the descriptive opening. It puts you right there with him and that Pontiac. Happy weekend!

  5. I've had this one on my Kindle for a bit, but I haven't started it yet. I have read other books in Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock series, but it's been a long time. This one sounds a lot of fun.

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  7. Hmmm - that sounds intriguing. Cold cases imply dual timelines which can be good in mysteries. Hope it turns out to be a good one.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  8. Oh that sounds intriguing!!