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Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John Grey Series)

Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John Grey Series)

4.1 105
by Diana Gabaldon

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Diana Gabaldon, the New York Times bestselling author of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade and the wildly popular Outlander novels, delivers three tales of war, intrigue, and espionage that feature one of her most popular characters: Lord John Grey. In the heart of the eighteenth century, here are haunted soldiers . . . lusty princesses . . .


Diana Gabaldon, the New York Times bestselling author of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade and the wildly popular Outlander novels, delivers three tales of war, intrigue, and espionage that feature one of her most popular characters: Lord John Grey. In the heart of the eighteenth century, here are haunted soldiers . . . lusty princesses . . . ghostly apparitions . . . dark family secrets. And here Lord John will face enemies who come in the guise of friends, memories in the shape of a fiery-haired Scot named James Fraser, and allies who have the power to destroy him with a single blow. . . .

In Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John glimpses a stranger in the doorway of a gentlemen's club—and is stirred by a desperate entreaty to meet in private. The rendezvous forestalled by a sudden murder, Lord John will wade into a maze of political treachery and a dangerous, debauched underground society. . . . In Lord John and the Succubus, English soldiers fighting in Prussia are rattled by the nocturnal visitations of a deadly woman who sucks life and soul from a man. Called to investigate the night-hag, Lord John finds a murdered soldier and a treacherous Gypsy, and comes to the stark realization that among the spirits that haunt men, none frighten more than the specters conjured by the heart. . . . In Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Lord John is thrust into the deadly case of an exploding battlefield cannon. Wounded in the same battle, Lord John is called to tesify and soon confronts his own ghost—and the shattering prospect that a traitor is among the ranks of His Majesty's armed forces.

Capturing the lonely, tormented, and courageous career of a man who fights for his crown, his honor, and his own secrets, Diana Gabaldon delivers breathtaking human drama. And in tales seething with desire, madness, and political intrigue, Gabaldon once again proves that she can bring history to life in a way few novelists ever have.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The indefatigable Gabaldon, who has made the British 18th century her own, offers a trio of novellas about Lord John Grey, whose minor role in the Outlander novels (concerning Jacobite Jamie Fraser and including A Breath of Snow and Ashes) has become a major fictional spinoff (Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, etc.). The three mystery-adventure novellas of this volume span 1756 to 1758, in settings packed with dark secrets-and therefore dangers-for the soldier-hero with secrets of his own. The first novella finds Lord John swearing vengeance in London for a murdered government official, leading him to a deconsecrated abbey where members of the political elite indulge their basest desires. The second pits Lord John against a succubus that plagues his Prussian encampment, and combines humor with military strategy and supernatural myth. The third, most complex narrative finds Lord John investigating the cause of a cannon explosion in the English countryside that results in a fellow officer's death. Gabaldon brings an effusive joy to her fiction that proves infectious even for readers unfamiliar with her work or the period. A foreword and introductory notes add background on the book's evolution. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Gabaldon's latest Lord John Grey offering is a collection of three novellas. In "Lord John and the Hellfire Club," John is asked for help by a distressed diplomat, but the man is murdered before they can meet to discuss the particulars. John's investigation into the murder leads to a debauched secret society. John must search out a night-hag and solve a murder while dealing with a treacherous gypsy in "Lord John and the Succubus." Back in England, in "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier," our hero faces an inquiry into why the cannon he manned while fighting abroad mysteriously exploded. Gabaldon again proves she has mastered the English 18th century: the flowery elegance of its aristocratic language, elaborate social customs, and darker sexual underside. She makes the novella format-called by Stephen King in Different Seasons, "an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic"-work here, depicting both a man's private sexual demons and his bland public countenance. Actor Jeff Woodman brings an experience of dialects and accents to this narration; his elegant diction for Lord John is a clever contrast to his Cockney-flavored rendering of John's valet. Recommended for historic mystery collections. [Gabaldon won the 2006 Quill Award for A Breath of Snow and Ashes.-Ed.]
—David Faucheux

Kirkus Reviews
A secondary character from Gabaldon's Outlander series steps out in three supernatural yarns. Conflicted raconteur Lord John Grey, last seen in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), is back. This triptych includes two stories culled from historical anthologies and one original tale published here for the first time. Gabaldon's strengths are on full display. The short form forces her to curtail the sprawl evident in the recent Outlander novels, while the historical backdrop serves to showcase her exhaustive research. With his unrequited passion for the Scottish rebel Jamie Fraser still fresh in his mind, Grey stumbles into a secret society hidden in London in "Lord John and the Hellfire Club." Temptation, blackmail and murder ensue as Grey negotiates the minefields of the British class system. An old-fashioned ghost story lies at the heart of "Lord John and the Succubus," a companion story to the Prussia-set Brotherhood of the Blade. In the midst of the Seven Years' War, Grey must establish the connection between a murdered soldier and a towering gypsy temptress with a secret worth keeping. The last story, "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier," cagily incorporates a thrilling bit of detective work as the noble major ferrets out a traitorous cannoneer among a Royal Artillery Regiment. This last story is the freshest and most thorough portrait of Gabaldon's multifaceted leading man, so troubled by the events that overtake him. "God knows I am neither ignorant nor innocent of the ways of the world. And yet I feel so unclean, so much evil I have met tonight," he writes. Deftly written, pleasantly concise stories about the ghosts of desire, each with its own discrete merits.
From the Publisher
“Deftly written, pleasantly concise stories about the ghosts of desire, each with its own discrete merits . . . [Diana] Gabaldon’s strengths are on full display.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Gabaldon brings an effusive joy to her fiction that proves infectious even for readers unfamiliar with her work or the period.”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Lord John Grey Series , #1
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Random House
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Part I

A Red-Haired Man

London, 1756 The Society for Appreciation of the English Beefsteak, a gentleman’s club Lord John Grey jerked his eyes away from the door. No. No, he mustn’t turn and stare. Needing some other focus for his gaze, he fixed his eyes instead on Quarry’s scar.

“A glass with you, sir?” Scarcely waiting for the club’s steward to provide for his companion, Harry Quarry drained his cup of claret, then held it out for more. “And another, perhaps, in honor of your return from frozen exile?” Quarry grinned broadly, the scar pulling down the corner of his eye in a lewd wink as he did so, and lifted up his glass again.

Lord John tilted his own cup in acceptance of the salute, but barely tasted the contents. With an effort, he kept his eyes on Quarry’s face, willing himself not to turn and stare, not to gawk after the flash of fire in the corridor that had caught his eye.

Quarry’s scar had faded; tightened and shrunk to a thin white slash, its nature made plain only by its position, angled hard across the ruddy cheek. It might otherwise have lost itself among the lines of hard living, but instead remained visible, the badge of honor that its owner so plainly considered it.

“You are exceeding kind to note my return, sir,” Grey said. His heart hammered in his ears, muffling Quarry’s words—no great loss to conversation.

It is not, his sensible mind pointed out, it cannot be. Yet sense had nothing to do with the riot of his sensibilities, that surge of feeling that seized him by nape and buttocks, as though it would pluck him up and turn him forcibly to go in pursuit of the red-haired man he had so briefly glimpsed.

Quarry’s elbow nudged him rudely, a not-unwelcome recall to present circumstances.

“. . . among the ladies, eh?”


“I say your return has been noted elsewhere, too. My sister-in-law bid me send her regard and discover your present lodgings. Do you stay with the regiment?”

“No, I am at present at my mother’s house, in Jermyn Street.” Finding his cup still full, Grey raised it and drank deep. The Beefsteak’s claret was of excellent vintage, but he scarcely noticed its bouquet. There were voices in the hall outside, raised in altercation.

“Ah. I’ll inform her, then; expect an invitation by the morn- ing post. Lucinda has her eye upon you for a cousin of hers, I daresay—she has a flock of poor but well-favored female relations, whom she means to shepherd to good marriages.” Quarry’s teeth showed briefly. “Be warned.”

Grey nodded politely. He was accustomed to such overtures. The youngest of four brothers, he had no hopes of a title, but the family name was ancient and honorable, his person and countenance not without appeal—and he had no need of an heiress, his own means being ample.

The door flung open, sending such a draft across the room as made the fire in the hearth roar up like the flames of Hades, scattering sparks across the Turkey carpet. Grey gave thanks for the burst of heat; it gave excuse for the color that he felt suffuse his cheeks.

Nothing like. Of course he is nothing like. Who could be? And yet the emotion that filled his breast was as much disappointment as relief.

The man was tall, yes, but not strikingly so. Slight of build, almost delicate. And young, younger than Grey, he judged. But the hair—yes, the hair was very like.

Lord John Grey.” Quarry had intercepted the young man, a hand on his sleeve, turning him for introduction. “Allow me to acquaint you with my cousin by marriage, Mr. Robert Gerald.”

Mr. Gerald nodded shortly, then seemed to take hold of himself. Suppressing whatever it was that had caused the blood to rise under his fair skin, he bowed, then fixed his gaze on Grey in cordial acknowledgment.

“Your servant, sir.”

“And yours.” Not copper, not carrot; a deep red, almost rufous, with glints and streaks of cinnabar and gold. The eyes were not blue—thank God!—but rather a soft and luminous brown.

Grey’s mouth had gone dry. To his relief, Quarry offered refreshment, and upon Gerald’s agreement, snapped his fingers for the steward and steered the three of them to an armchaired corner, where the haze of tobacco smoke hung like a sheltering curtain over the less-convivial members of the Beefsteak.

“Who was that I heard in the corridor?” Quarry demanded, as soon as they were settled. “Bubb-Dodington, surely? The man’s a voice like a costermonger.”

“I—he—yes, it was.” Mr. Gerald’s pale skin, not quite recovered from its earlier excitement, bloomed afresh, to Quarry’s evident amusement.

“Oho! And what perfidious proposal has he made you, young Bob?”

“Nothing. He—an invitation I did not wish to accept, that is all. Must you shout so loudly, Harry?” It was chilly at this end of the room, but Grey thought he could warm his hands at the fire of Gerald’s smooth cheeks.

Quarry snorted with amusement, looking around at the nearby chairs.

“Who’s to hear? Old Cotterill’s deaf as a post, and the General’s half dead. And why do you care in any case, if the matter’s so innocent as you suggest?” Quarry’s eyes swiveled to bear on his cousin by marriage, suddenly intelligent and penetrating.

“I did not say it was innocent,” Gerald replied dryly, regaining his composure. “I said I declined to accept it. And that, Harry, is all you will hear of it, so desist this piercing glare you turn upon me. It may work on your subalterns, but not on me.”

Grey laughed, and after a moment, Quarry joined in. He clapped Gerald on the shoulder, eyes twinkling.

“My cousin is the soul of discretion, Lord John. But that’s as it should be, eh?”

“I have the honor to serve as junior secretary to the prime minister,” Gerald explained, seeing incomprehension on Grey’s features. “While the secrets of government are dull indeed, at least by Harry’s standards”—he shot his cousin a malicious grin—“they are not mine to share.”

“Oh, well, of no interest to Lord John in any case,” Quarry said philosophically, tossing back his third glass of aged claret with a disrespectful haste more suited to porter. Grey saw the senior steward close his eyes in quiet horror at the act of desecration, and smiled to himself—or so he thought, until he caught Mr. Gerald’s soft brown eyes upon him, a matching smile of complicity upon his lips.

“Such things are of little interest to anyone save those most intimately concerned,” Gerald said, still smiling at Grey. “The fiercest battles fought are those where very little lies at stake, you know. But what interests you, Lord John, if politics does not?”

“Not lack of interest,” Grey responded, holding Robert Gerald’s eyes boldly with his. No, not lack of interest at all. “Ignorance, rather. I have been absent from London for some time; in fact, I have quite lost . . . touch.”

Without intent, one hand closed upon his glass, the thumb drawing slowly upward, stroking the smooth, cool surface as though it were another’s flesh. Hastily, he set the glass down, seeing as he did so the flash of blue from the sapphire ring he wore. It might have been a lighthouse beacon, he reflected wryly, warning of rough seas ahead.

And yet the conversation sailed smoothly on, despite Quarry’s jocular inquisitions regarding Grey’s most recent posting in the wilds of Scotland and his speculations as to his brother officer’s future prospects. As the former was terra prohibita and the latter terra incognita, Grey had little to say in response, and the talk moved on to other things: horses, dogs, regimental gossip, and other such comfortable masculine fare.

Yet now and again, Grey felt the brown eyes rest on him, with an expression of speculation that both modesty and caution forbade him to interpret. It was with no sense of surprise, though, that upon departure from the club, he found himself alone in the vestibule with Gerald, Quarry having been detained by an acquaintance met in passing.

“I impose intolerably, sir,” Gerald said, moving close enough to keep his low-voiced words from the ears of the servant who kept the door. “I would ask your favor, though, if it be not entirely unwelcome?”

“I am completely at your command, I do assure you,” Grey said, feeling the warmth of claret in his blood succeeded by a rush of deeper heat.

“I wish—that is, I am in some doubt regarding a circumstance of which I have become aware. Since you are so recently come to London—that is, you have the advantage of perspective, which I must necessarily lack by reason of familiarity. There is no one . . .” He fumbled for words, then turned eyes grown suddenly and deeply unhappy on Lord John. “I can confide in no one!” he said, in a sudden, passionate whisper. He gripped Lord John’s arm, with surprising strength. “It may be nothing, nothing at all. But I must have help.”

“You shall have it, if it be in my power to give.” Grey’s fingers touched the hand that grasped his arm; Gerald’s fingers were cold. Quarry’s voice echoed down the corridor behind them, loud with joviality.

“The ’Change, near the Arcade,” Gerald said rapidly. “Tonight, just after full dark.” The grip on Grey’s arm was gone, and Gerald vanished, the soft fall of his hair vivid against his blue cloak.

Grey’s afternoon was spent in necessary errands to tailors and solicitors, then in making courtesy calls upon long-neglected acquaintance, in an effort to fill the empty hours that loomed before dark. Quarry, at loose ends, had volunteered to accompany him, and Lord John had made no demur. Bluff and jovial by temper, Quarry’s conversation was limited to cards, drink, and whores. He and Grey had little in common, save the regiment. And Ardsmuir.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion; and the Outlander graphic novel The Exile. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

Brief Biography

Flagstaff, Arizona
Date of Birth:
January 11, 1952
Place of Birth:
Flagstaff, Arizona
B.S., Northern Arizona University, 1973; M.S., Scripps Oceanographic Institute; Ph.D., Northern Arizona University, 1979

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Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John Grey Series) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Gina_Wichita More than 1 year ago
Diana Gabaldon's newest "Lord John" book is totally out of the ordinary for her writings: a) It is an anthology of three short stories or novellas. b) Each has a haunting story line. The protagonist in each story is Lord John, but he plays avery different role in the first than the second and third stories. Gabaldon remains true to her accuracy in historic clubs and/or myths current in that time frame. The First "Hellfire Club" is a Black Mass parody on the Roman Catholic Mass. It is rich in blood and gore, with Lord John wondering if he will escape alive. The second and third are based on German "ghost" myths, in which he contends with the superstitions of the local folk, before coming up with very creative solutions for the various dilemnas. If you enjoy this type of suspense, you will be entranced by her interpretation and solutions. It's a "good read". Gina_Wichita
uruguayan-reader More than 1 year ago
I have only recently discovered Diana Gabaldon Outlander series and have become a real fan of her. I have always loved historical novels but her books are so much more that you just can't put them away. And I am enjoying re-reading them too while I wait for the next one. Being Lord John Grey a secondary character in the Outlander series, I was not particularly interested in him at first. But Ms. Gabaldon latest book - the Scottish Prisoner - featuring Lord John and James Fraser was highly enjoyable, so I decided to buy Lord John Grey series, and loved them too. Really great reading!
Manginor More than 1 year ago
When you would rather read Diana Gabaldons stories as apposed to working, playing or spending time with other people, you know you have found a good writer. I can't seem to put the books down and I'm now re-reading the first 7, waiting for the next book. Amazing writing and story telling.
chixenbaugh More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy reading the Lord John Series as I wait for the new Outlander Series books. These books give you little snippets of Jamie as well! Lord John is a great character.
Cnedran More than 1 year ago
Fast paced with lots of twists and turns that will surprise most of you. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope Ms. Gabaldon will continue with this series of Lord John's life, there is so much left to be "uncovered".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book - I love all of Diana Gabaldons works - they just don't come fast enough!
harstan More than 1 year ago
¿Lord John and the Hellfire Club¿. Lord John Grey is asked by Robert Gerald, the junior setetary of the prime minister, for help with a problem. He agrees seeing how upset Gerald is but later that day Robert is killed. The last word he spoke is Dashwood. That night he attends a Hellfire club invitation, not knowing that he is to be the murderer¿s second victim.---------- ¿Lord John and the Succubus¿. Rumors move swiftly through the troops that a succubus is on the loose. Lord John is persuaded to use his white horse to find the grave where the succubus inhabits a dead body. The horse moves to the grave of the man¿s mother who made the accusation. They also find the body of a dead English solder in the cemetery. The allies are nervous about the rumors, but John believes that someone secular has spread them and he plans to expose them before the upcoming battle in the long drawn out world war (1756-1763).------------ ¿Lord John and the Haunted Soldier¿. After being injured by a cannon that blew up during battle, Lord John answers his superior¿s inquiry re the incident. John later learns eight more guns blew up that the military wants kept quiet and he would make a good scapegoat. He needs evidence to prove he wasn¿t negligent help comes from an unexpected source. These three novella give insight into the character of Lord John Grey, an honorable man who has to hide his homosexual preference from the world since it is a crime punishable by death. He always chooses the most ethical cause of action even when silence would better serve him. Diana Gabaldon has written an exciting anthology of an eighteenth century solder at war in which don¿t tell means avoiding ¿friendly¿ fire.------------------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
as all her books it was great any one who likes history, advenure, love stories and just great wrighting would like this book
nutmegrose More than 1 year ago
This was a really good novella to learn more about Lord John's life. A definite read if you are an Outlander fan to get into the lives of the characters more in depth.I love seeing the logical side of Lord John being developed and it opens up the world that Jamie enters and gives more understanding to the time period.
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Whimpered feeling helpless.
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