When Lord John Grey accidentally discovers that his young cousin's fianc‚ has the pox he must discover a way to break off the engagement without causing a scandal. This task is made more difficult because the fianc‚ is a very powerful man. As if this was not enough, he must also solve the mystery of the murder of Sergeant Timothy O'Connell - a member of his own regiment - who looks increasingly as though he might have been a spy. The deeper he looks into the murky underworld of Georgian London, the more the two problems become entangled - and the more he risks exposing his own criminal secret; he is a gay man in a society where this can get him hanged.
I freely admit that I am not a fan of Diane Gabaldon's `Outlander' novels. Gabaldon is a very good writer - her prose is strong and elegant and reads like a joy. But I find the characters and plots of the Outlander series overwrought, and it irritates me that everyone; male and female, good and bad alike, instantly falls in love with the hero, for no discernable reason other than his lovely hair. So I was not expecting a great deal from this.
How wrong I was! I loved it instantly and re-read it often. Lord John himself is my favorite sort of hero - quietly witty, intelligent, cultured but not squeamish, well dressed and gay. He is lower key than the characters of the Outlander series, and is thus, to me, more likeable. Similarly, all the other characters are beautifully drawn, complex and intriguing; believable as real people but never boring. Lord John's mother in particular is delightful, but then so is his valet!
The setting is impeccable; from the snuff boxes to the Molly Houses everything is almost tangible, and it was a complete treat to be taken on such an intricate tour of parts of Georgian London no other book has dared touch. If you ever wondered about the homosexual subculture of the 18th Century, this book is for you. John's time in Lavender House in particular is a gorgeous, slow, constant escalation of sexual tension that ends with a fade to black more sensual than many sex scenes I've read.
The plot is easily involving enough for me, though it is the weak point of the book. I guessed the identity of the lady in the green dress long before John did, and I tutted in exasperation when John employed the time honored Bond method of solving the crime. Namely, getting captured and having the villain explain everything, before staging an implausible escape.
But to be honest I wasn't reading it for the plot. It was a total immersion in a time more elegant than our own, and with people who I really enjoyed being around. I love Lord John, and I can't wait for the sequel!
Adored bestselling author Diana Gabaldon brings us the first book in a new trilogy featuring many of the characters from her wildly popular Outlander series.
In her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels, Diana Gabaldon introduced millions of readers to a dazzling world of history and adventure -- a world of vibrant settings and utterly unforgettable characters. Now one of these characters, Major Lord John Grey, opens the door to his own part of this world -- eighteenth-century London, a seething anthill of nobility and rabble peopled by soldiers and spies, whores and dukes. Great Britain is battling France for supremacy on three continents -- and life is good for a soldier.
The year is 1757. 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, and from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas ruled by the majestic fleet of 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 -- ornothing.
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.