Three and a half stars (of five)
Gabaldon continues to weave the Lord John tales with another novella, set months after Brotherhood in the Blade ended. The gun crew to which Lord John belongs is brought before a board of inquiry to answer for their actions and a cannon mishap that has cost Lt. Philip Lister his life. The cannon burst injured many, including Grey, who possesses the shrapnel carved out by surgeons. When the remains of the cannon goes missing, Grey ends up with the only remaining evidence to substantiate poorly constructed weaponry, which could exonerate Grey and the rest of the crew. While certain members of the board seek to discredit Grey, going so far as to order a secondment, Grey perseveres in order to get to the bottom of the investigation and clear his name. As with any Lord John story, our protagonist engages in numerous sleuthing activities, looking for Lt. Lister’s fiancee and child and investigating a blackmarket distribution of gun powder. Gabaldon also peppers the story with some Grey sentiments surrounding the ever-elusive Jamie Fraser, sure to thicken future storylines. Building on some of the storylines developed in the preceding novel, Gabaldon entertains the reader with every page and keeps them wanting more.As part of my listening pleasure, I stumbled upon a note by Gabaldon after the novella, which puts the entire LJG series into perspective. As the Gabaldon fan will know, many of the OUTLANDER novels came to be long before Lord John received more than passing mention. However, the divergence of Lord John and his development as a stand-alone character has led to some very curious denouement in the larger Outlander series. Grey’s ties to Jamie Fraser and the fact that the entire collection to date takes place in that two-decade period when Claire was gone weaves interesting storylines and leaves Grey (especially) with an interesting outlook into what might come to pass should the two renew their acquaintance. Much to come should create even more interesting options.
Kudos, Madam Gabaldon for this addition to the series. I see many interesting developments on the horizon.