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Back to the Garden  By  cover art

Back to the Garden

By: Laurie R. King
Narrated by: Vivienne Leheny
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Publisher's Summary

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 as she 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 brother Fort...

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

©2023 Laurie R. King (P)2023 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Back to the Garden

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    4 out of 5 stars

I remember when......

This was a engaging read, with seamless transitions between two time frames. Laurie was able to bring the past alive, taking me to my teenage years of wishing to be "there" at the core of the flower child revolution. All these decades later, it is easy to forget what it was like at the time, and although I think much of the hippy/commune experience was hype, King described it from many sides, and with a great deal of nostalgia. I'm not sure why mystery writers are so enamored of serial killers (I usually avoid them in the mysteries I read), but there were a number of them during the time period. I'm not sure what has happened to serial killers since then. Have shooting rampages taken the place of serial crimes, or are the serial killers just much better at hiding their crimes? At any rate, King managed to handle the antagonist without an overload of creepiness, and avoided the usual looming thriller plot. This has the makings of a new series, which I would hardily support.

9 people found this helpful

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What a Great Story!

I really enjoyed this stand-alone book by Laurie R King. The characters were rich and vibrant and the story captured my attention from the start. The narration of the audiobook was top-notch and definitely added to my enjoyment of the story.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This is the kind of book I could almost start over immediately, for the story, the characters, and the narration (wonderful narrator).
It has everything I love in a mystery -- or in any audio book, for that matter.

1 person found this helpful

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Another Laurie King Masterpiece

Once again, (after reading Sherlock Holmes, and Other San Francisco detective-), I was completely captured, and engrossed in this mystery. As usual, surprises, and a well plotted mystery. Highly recommend-a fab listen (especially doing boring housework such as cleaning kitchen, folding clothes, unloading dishwasher etc. thank you Laurie King for making day to day boring housework something to look forward to so I can listen.

1 person found this helpful

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May be my last Laurie R King novel

So disappointed in this book. So many to mention. It didn’t even feel much less read like one of her stories. You’d think with a geriatric serial killer and a hippie commune in 70’s CA it would hold your interest.

1 person found this helpful

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Another great book in this series!

I loved this book as much or more than the others in this series and in King’s other series!

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Disappointing...

Ms. King, I was so looking forward to listening to your new book but I stopped listening at Chapter 14. There were two issues with the narration that ruined the book for me. The first is the narration is so slow I put the speed at 1.1 which helped a bit. The second issue was the monotone of the narrator. After Jenny Sterlin's outstanding narrations in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, I am so dissapointed. I cannot give more than one star as I couldn't finish the recorded book. So I will read the book instead.

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More please

Great listen! I hope to read more Raquel Laing adventures. Fabulous settings and background information

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  • 11-16-22

meh

I listened to the whole thing because I was curious about the 'whodoneit' result. But I tuned out often because the writing kind of droned on and was hard to follow.

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Compelling and Riveting

An Exceptionally well Crafted book with many twists and turns there is no end of drama and the story is exceptionally well read