Laurie R. King, "Back to the Garden: A Novel" (Bantam, 2022)


Today I talked to Laurie R. King about her new novel Back to the Garden: A Novel (Bantam, 2022).

Inspector Raquel Liang of the San Francisco Police Department has reached a crossroads in her career. A recent incident ended with her transfer to the Cold Cases Unit and instructions to do everything by the book from now on if she wants to keep her job as the SFPD’s psychological investigator. So when news comes of old bones found under a concrete slab at the spiffy Gardener Estate in San Mateo County—a modus operandi associated with a serial killer from the 1970s known as the Highwayman—Raquel finds herself dealing with a case outside her jurisdiction but definitely within her area of expertise.

An added incentive for Raquel is that the Highwayman has just been identified, but he’s in the hospital with terminal cancer—and even after fifty years, he’s still playing games with the law. If the police can identify one of his victims, he will cooperate by supplying information on another, unknown to them. But time is running out, and more than a dozen victims remain unnamed. The body at the Gardener Estate may therefore answer the questions of two grieving families.

Interspersed with Raquel’s search for information on the victim, we follow the events preceding the murder in 1979, when—for reasons explained in the novel—the pristine Gardener Estate hosted a hippie commune devoted to organic gardening, free love, and a steady supply of drugs. As we move back and forth between past and present, the complex story of one exceedingly troubled family slowly emerges, the link between the commune and the Highwayman is revealed, and Raquel’s commitment to do everything by the book is tested—until one final, dramatic twist forces her to decide what matters most.

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels and other works, including the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. She is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology.

C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest novel, Song of the Sinner, appeared in January 2022.

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C. P. Lesley

C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and four other novels. Her latest book, The Merchant's Tale, co-written with P.K. Adams, appeared in November 2023.

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