Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey #3), by Diana Gabaldon

Four stars (of five)

Gabaldon presents her penultimate Lord John story in such as way as to lure in long-time fans while filling in many cracks left in her previous stories. The tale, a dual narrative, depicts the lives of both Lord John Grey and Jamie Fraser, at first in their respective residences, but soon together on a mission. Lord John comes into possession of a number of documents that support corruption by a British soldier he first encountered while in Quebec. Buried in the package is a document in ‘Erse, language of the Scottish Highland. Grey knows of the language from his time as Governor of Ardsmuir Prison, but with no ability to decipher it, calls on Jamie Fraser, who’s living life on parole at Hellwater, in the Lake District. Fraser, approached by a comrade from the Jacobite Uprisings, wants nothing to do with the politics, even after learning that Ireland appears to be a Jacobite hotbed. When Grey arrives and decides they will chase after this soldier, who was last seen in Ireland, Fraser reluctantly accompanies Grey and brings along this comrade, though their connection is not yet revealed. Along the way, both Grey and Fraser encounter Jacobites and generally nefarious characters alike, all of whom make the simple task of the soldier’s retrieval all the more difficult. When the soldier is murdered and the accused is amongst the ranks of Grey’s travelling party, the story thickens alongside the plot. As Gabaldon tells wonderful backstories of her two male protagonists, the avid Outlander reader can pull together some of the final pieces into the larger puzzle of how life evolved during the years Jamie and Claire were apart. The perfect (almost) end to the two-decade era, keeping the Outlander appetite whetted and the levels of curiosity high.

While this book did nothing for me when first I read it upon its release, I can now say that I have changed my mind. I have a better respect for the story and the role it plays in the larger FRASER and GREY character development. Gabaldon has woven together a stellar set of stories as they relate to Lord John, all of which I have read sequentially. It is by doing this (and following the OUTLANDER chronology) that I have a wonderful respect for the nuggets of information found within these pages. Gabaldon’s attention to detail is not lost and the attentive reader will enjoy the throwback to some minor storylines and characters from novels and novellas past. With one more short piece of writing left in the Lord John series, Gabaldon will have to tie up any loose ends she has for her aristocratic protagonist, or pepper things into the OUTLANDER novels anew.

Kudos, Madam Gabaldon. When I took the time to better understand this story, it all came together so well and kept me intrigued until the final page.