Lord John and the Hand of the Devils
Delacorte, Dec 2007, $25.00, 306 pp.
“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.