Lord John and the Hand of Devils, Paperback

Lord John and the Hand of Devils Paperback

Part of the Lord John Grey series

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


A keepsake collection of Lord John Grey's shorter adventures and a spectacular addition to any Gabaldon fan's library, "Lord John and the Hand of the Devils" brings these three unique novellas together for the first time.

Lord John and the Hellfire Club marks the first appearance of Lord John outside the "Outlander" novels (and chronologically precedes the novel "Lord John and the Private Matter").

A young diplomat is killed in the street as he begs Lord John for help.

Witnessing the murder, Grey vows to avenge the young man, as the trail leads to the notorious Hellfire Club and the dark caves beneath Medmenham Abbey.In "Lord John and the Succubus", Grey's assignment as liaison to a Hanoverian regiment in Germany finds him caught between two threats: the advancing French and Austrian army, and the menace of a mysterious 'night-hag,' who spreads fear and death among the troops.

Acknowledging that he is unlikely to fall victim to a succubus, Lord John is obliged to contend with the marauding night-hag before the enemy arrives.

This tale with a touch of the supernatural bridges the action between Gabaldon's two full-length Lord John tales. Finally, in "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", Lord John is called to the Arsenal at Woolwich to answer a Royal Commission of Enquiry's questions regarding a cannon that exploded during the battle of Krefeld (a central action in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade).

Accusations ensue, and Lord John finds himself knee-deep in a morass of gunpowder, treason, and plot - haunted by a dead lieutenant, and followed by a man with no face.




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Review by

This is a collection: one short story, <i>Lord John and the Hellfire Club</i>, and two novellas, <i>Lord John and the Succubus</i> and <i>...Haunted Soldier</i>. <i>Hellfire Club</i> is slight, a a 20-page short story that is more an idea than an actual story; it's the two novellas that form the meat of the book. <i>Succubus</i> is silly, engaging fun: Grey is in Prussia with the estimable Stephan van Namtzen, aristocrat, soldier and gentleman, and Grey is not at <i>all</i> in love with him. They're solving a mystery of a succubus, or night-hag, a demon who's killing soldiers and... er.... draining their essence, and it's silly and doesn't quite hang together as a plot, but as usual, is redeemed by Grey and van Namtzen and their surrounding cast, who are their usual funny, delightful selves. <i>Haunted Soldier</i> is something different again. It's notable firstly because, as a story in itself, it really doesn't work, but acquires depth and meaning when taken as a sequel to <i>Brotherhood of the Blade</i>, and secondly because it isn't immediately clear who the haunted soldier is. There are several candidates, but by far the most likely is Grey himself, who has returned to England after Crefeld to deal with, among other things, having had a tonne of cannon explode in his arms.Much as I complain about Galabldon's occasional romance-novel nonsenses, she really can write when she wants to, and never better than here. It's interesting that despite the fact he never acknowledges it, Grey is very obviously clinically depressed throughout this story. His usual characterisation is so crisp and clear that the author can press the metaphorical mute button on it here to great, subtle effect. It's one ot the things she's very good at, actually; everything that happens to him informs his subsequent character development, and it's clear how he changes with experience across the novels. For this reason, I don't think this book does stand alone, despite the publishers' blurb, and I wouldn't recommend it to someone who didn't know the series. Start with one of the novels.

Review by

I picked this book up because I kept coming across Diana Gabaldon in the bookshop, and her books looked intriguing. Being a bit wary, as always, of investing in a tome of a new-to-me author (because I've been burned before, but I haven't the heart to eject such books off my shelves), I thought this collection of short stories about a minor character from her historical / time travelling <i>'Outlander'</i> series (extrapolating from the cover blurb) would be a good introduction.The stories are :<b>1 - Lord John and the Hellfire Club</b>Lord John Grey, in investigating the death of an acquaintance, finds himself embroiled in very strange goings-on.This story is set in the 18th century when (we learn from obscure hints and innuendo) homosexuality was considered an atrocity - which poses a problem for Lord John and certain of his friends. It is divided into three parts, though I felt a bit lost in the first part, as it kept referring to events from the <i>'Outlander'</i> series and hinting about a red-haired mutual acquaintance of Lord John and his friends. However, once the story got going, part two drew me in.<b>2 - Lord John and the Succubus</b>It is 1757 and Lord John Grey is stationed in Saxony, as liaison officer to Hanoverian allies, fighting against the French and Austrians. As well as corporeal enemies, the troops stationed in and around the town of Gundwitz suddenly find themselves facing the threat of a succubus; but does such a thing actually exist? Lord John finds himself involved in the investigation, as well as a possible romance or two.I must admit that whenever I read a story that takes place in England anytime before WWI, I subconsciously use Jane Austen as my standard, and expect the characters to behave with Victorian propriety, so it startles me when it's written more in Georgette Heyer's style; but that's just my mind-set.That said, this war-time mystery was enjoyable. Lord John seems to be turning into a detective of sorts, with the action taking place in 18th century Europe.<b>3 - Lord John and the Haunted Soldier</b>Lord John is back in London, and - after recovering from an injury resulting from an exploding canon at the front - finds himself in front of an inquisition into the murder of Tom Pilchard i.e. the canon itself. The inquisition suspects that the canon was sabotaged, and Lord John Grey finds that suspicion turned on himself. Feeling that he (or one of his brothers) is being framed, he investigates further.stAs in the first two stories, Grey finds himself embroiled in a mystery which he sets out to solve. For me, the interest was not so much in trying to solve the mystery (which is what I usually try to do with crime fiction) as in the details of life in that period. The action moved from the Arsenal, where arms and ammunition were tested, to London, the countryside and out on the water, with visits to gentlemen's clubs. I can only assume that the details are accurate (never having studied the era before). Although, as I mentioned before, this gentleman soldier seems to move in more permissive circles than my Jane Austen heroines: for a society where even to be suspected (rightly or wrongly) of being homosexual could mean death or worse, some characters in these stories are fairly blatant with their hints and invitations.While I didn't love these stories to bits, they are good stories and certainly held my interest. I think I'll be exploring further into this world at a later date.Having now read other reviews, I'd like to add:1 - like other reviewers, I agree that the third story is the best, and it lifted my rating by half a star.2 - unlike other reviewers, this is my first foray into Diana Gabaldon's universe, and I think that does make a difference to how we experienced the book.

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