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Back to the garden : a novel
2022
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Inspector Raquel Laing investigates a 50-year-old case at a storied and glamourous California estate after renovations turn up a human skull that may have been the work of a serial killer. - (Baker & Taylor)

"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. The Gardener Estate is one of the most storied and beloved places on the West Coast: a magnificent house in vast formal grounds, home to a family that shaped California-and fought hard to conceal the turmoil and eccentricities within their walls. And now, just as the turmoil seems buried and the Estate prepares to move into a new future, construction work unearths a grim relic of the estate's history: a skull, hidden away some fifty years ago. Inspector Raquel Laing of the SFPD Cold Case Unit has her work cut out for her.Back in the '70s, the Estate was a commune, when its young heir, Rob Gardener, turned the palatial setting into a counterculture Eden of peace, love, and equality. But the '70s were also a time when serial killers preyed on such innocents-monsters like The Highwayman, whose case has just assumed a whole new urgency. Could these bones belong to one of his victims? For Raquel Laing-a woman who knows all about hidden turmoil and eccentricities-the Gardener bones seem clearly linked to The Highwayman. But asshe dives into the Estate's archives for evidence of his presence, what she finds there begins to take on a dark reality of its own. Everything brings her back to Rob Gardener himself-now a gray-haired recluse, then a troubled young Vietnam vet whose girlfriend vanished after a midsummer festival at the Estate, fifty years ago. But a lot of people seem to have disappeared from the Gardener Estate that summer, when the commune fell apart and its residents scattered: a young woman, her child, Rob's brotherFort... The pressure is on, and Raquel needs to solve this case-before The Highwayman slips away, or another Gardener vanishes"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

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. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Laurie R. King is the award-winning, bestselling author of seventeen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Marinelli, and many acclaimed standalone novels such as Folly, Touchstone, The Bones of Paris, and Lockdown. King is an Edgar Award winner and was also named the 2022 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Northern California, where she is at work on her next Mary Russell mystery. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

At the start of this intricately plotted mystery from bestseller King (the Mary Russell series), Insp. Raquel Laing, who's with the San Francisco PD's Cold Case Unit, arrives at the Gardener Estate near Palo Alto—once the home of one of California's most influential families—where the remains of a long-buried body have been found on the grounds. Laing believes that the victim may be one of the young women murdered in the Bay Area in the 1970s by a serial killer known as the Highwayman. Flashbacks to the late 1970s show how Rob Gardener, then the estate's multimillionaire owner, turned it into a commune. The loosely knit and ever-changing community included Meadow, "a hippie earth-mother with the political skills of a Chicago mayor," and "a Mephistopheles rock star" known as Rain. Could the killer have some connection with the Gardener family? King skillfully misdirects the reader as the action builds to a surprising resolution. Laing, dubbed "the Sherlock of San Francisco" by her colleagues "for her uncanny ability to put together unrelated facts," is a welcome addition to the ranks of contemporary female detectives. Hopefully, she'll be back for an encore. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Sept.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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