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
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.]
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.
“The freshest and most thorough portrait of Gabaldon’s multifaceted leading man. . . . Deftly written, pleasantly concise.” — Kirkus Reviews