June 12, 2008

Oh Lord John

Trouble befalls Lord John Grey (fresh from minor roles in Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander novels) when he accidentally discovers that the Hon. Joseph Trevelyan, his cousin's betrothed, may have what those in 1757 termed "the pox" or "the French disease" syphilis. Before he can figure out an appropriate way to handle this delicate matter, he becomes involved in the investigation of the mysterious and grisly murder of a military colleague suspected of being a spy. Gabaldon (The Fiery Cross; Drums of Autumn; etc.) stitches these two plots together into a compelling narrative that also offers a wealth of juicy details about 18th-century London, especially its homosexual underbelly. Lord John, who reminisces about his dead lover, Hector, and the "lean, hard body" of an old flame, learns that Trevelyan may be traveling from one house of ill repute to another of a different sort: at the Lavender House, both buyers and sellers are men. Among his various trials and tribulations, Lord John must discern the identity of a mysterious figure in a green velvet dress spotted in both of these establishments and investigate the mysterious death of a similarly attired man, found with his face bashed in. Grey is a competent and likable sleuth, and Gabaldon's prose is crisply elegant. Her many fans will be happy to learn that this is the first in a series about the travails of Lord John Grey.

I finally dove into the "Lord John" series after falling in love with Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" books, which any historical fiction fan will tell you are fantastic! The tales about Lord John are not nearly as entertaining as those about Jamie Fraser, but I don't think they're supposed to be. Lord John's story is about mystery. Jamie's is more about his love for his wife.

However, I do not at all feel that the "Lord John" series should get as bad of a reputation as it does. I was quite thrilled with this book. There's murder, mystery, love, whores, and cross-dressing. What more could a book possibly contain? Look, if you liked the "Outlander" books, give this one a try and keep an open mind. If you go into reading this with the expectation that it won't surpass Jamie's adventures, then you'll be pleasantly content with it. I plan on buying the other two books in the series once they're out on paperback. Gabaldon's caught me again, and I am curious where she is going to take Lord John Grey.

Next up: Jen Holling's My Devilish Scotsman

P.S. I apologize if I am absent for a bit. I will be on vacation in Mexico and may not have time to get back on to post. But stay tuned, I plan on having lots to talk about!

1 comment:

Amy said...

Great review! I was on the fence about reading The Lord Johns series, but now I think I may have to pick this one up! Have a great time in Mexico!