Four stars (of five)
What ever happened to Jerry MacKenzie, father of Roger, whose plane went down during the War effort? As Gabaldon mentions in the story’s preface, discussion of Jerry opened in An Echo in the Bone, where Claire admitted that the story Roger knew was not entirely true. With Roger finally encountering Jerry in 1739, something must have happened related to the Stones, but the story is again not flushed out. Gabaldon chooses this point to offer a real account of events, just in time as Outlander fans are surely tearing their hair out with wonder, as the cliffhanger found no resolution within Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. Spitfire pilot Jerry MacKenzie is approached by MI6 (and Frank Randall no less) to help in the execution of a covert mission behind the Iron Curtain. While out on reconnaissance, Jerry develops engine trouble and crash lands somewhere in Northumbria. As Jerry seeks to get his bearings, he discovers that he’s been propelled into the past, but has no explanation for events. When he comes across a mysterious character, a little is revealed, including how to get back, but no clear understanding of the Stones is made known. Returning to modern times, Jerry comes across his wife, Marjorie, but is not in a position to reach her to discuss his revelations. Filling a few cracks in the Outlander storylines, this short story fits nicely, yet leaves much to the imagination.
This is the final instalment in the Outlander collection to date. I have endured much of Gabaldon’s long-winded and detailed writing. This story is a definite treat to flesh out some of the minor vignettes which received little printed space in the epic Outlander series. However, with the publication of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, Jerry MacKenzie’s disappearance becomes much more important and knowing the backstory becomes of great interest to the reader and series follower. That a Randall had something to do with it, loosely, is of no major shock, nor is it that the Stones played a role. That said, Gabaldon never ceases to amaze with all her dangling threads and how she chooses to tie them together or add additional literary fraying.
I would like to take some time to write my thoughts on the entire OUTLANDER series and will do so, but feel adding it to the review of a short story is not the place. Readers are welcome to check it out in a separate blog entry.
Kudos, Madam Gabaldon for a sensational series to date. I am totally enthralled and completely gobsmacked by all the hard work and literary effort you’ve put into this collection and hope you have a little more left to offer. I know BOOK NINE is in the works, and even a prequel, both of which I will devour.