Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon

Book Description:
On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London's Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil.  A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty's army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking.  But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent:  The Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade-in-arms who may have been a traitor.

Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of treachery and betrayal that touches every stratum of English society—and threatens all he holds dear.  From the bawdy houses of London's night world to the stately drawing rooms of the nobility...from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas ruled by the East India Company, Lord John pursues the elusive trails of a vanishing footman and a woman in green velvet, who may hold the key to everything—or nothing.

The early days of the Seven Years' War come brilliantly to life in this historical mystery by an author whose unique and compelling storytelling has engrossed millions of readers worldwide.

My Review:
Meh...not for me.

I read the first five books of the Outlander series quite a few years ago, and I had forgotten who Lord John Grey was.  Perhaps if I had remembered, I would never have read this book, but, then again, I probably would have, since I consider Diana Gabaldon one of my favorite authors.  Lord John was the young English soldier who lost his lover, Hector, at the Battle of Culloden and subsequently fell in love with Jamie Fraser.

This book is nowhere near as good as the Outlander series, and I was put off by some of the language and crude epithets.  I have read in other reviews that the Lord John series gets better, so maybe I will persevere...maybe not!


Colleen said...

I've heard that about the Lord John series, no one I know absolutely loves it. Skip Lord John and read A Breath of Snow and Ashes and An Echo in the Bone!!

Danmark said...

"Lord John and the Private Matter" started existance as a short story that got away from the author, and ended up instead as a novel. It is the first of a series of mysteries featuring a character from the wildly popular "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon. Lord John is an 18th century British army officer, who also happens to be gay. His sexual orientation is made known to the reader from the beginning (if they did not know it already from reading "Outlander), but it is not common knowledge among his fellow officers. In solving the rather light-weight mystery, Lord John gives the reader a tour of the underground world of some 18th century London homosexuals, including pubs that catered to gays, as well as houses of prostitution. Some of the vocabulary in the book is rather modern (such as the use of the word 'transvestite'), and the author states that she did take liberties in this area. There is a brief encounter with a male prostitute, which may disturb some readers.
The strength of the novel is with the characters, not the plot. Lord John is very likable and intelligent; his loyalty to his family shines through the entire work. We also get to meet his delightful mother, who is witty and well-read. My impression was that mother was aware of her son's sexual orientation, although that is not spelled out; his 16-year-old female cousin is obviously unaware, as she would like to see him married.

I hope that future "Lord John" books have a stronger plot line and a more interesting mystery. Ms Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is full of historical detail, has complex plot lines, and very memorable characters, so that this book was a bit of a disappointment to a reader who has read all of her previous books more than once. However, the strong characterizations alone will keep me coming back to "Lord John."

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