Lord John and the Private Matter

Lord John and the Private Matter (Lord John Grey, #1)Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon

Book description:
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, Lord John pursues the elusive trails of a vanishing footman and a woman in green velvet, who may hold the key to everything—or nothing.

This was delightful! I’m giving it a 4.5. Lord John Grey is a character from the Outlander series. As with that series, the strength of Diana’s books is in her characters, not the plot. The mystery is fairly light-weight, but spiced with an almost slapstick kind of humor. Even the “bad” guys are quirky and almost lovable. I will say, that since this started out as a short story that grew into a full-length novel, the plotting and pacing is considerably tighter than the sprawling Outlander books. Those looking for more “Jamie and Claire” will be disappointed. There is one brief and non-explicit scene with a male prostitute. The focus is mystery rather than romance. The author has done her homework into the gay world of 18th-century London, but the reader is not overwhelmed by historical details.

I listened to this book alternately with reading it, and the slapstick humor really comes alive with narrator Jeffrey Woodman. Otherwise, the book is written in a fast-paced but rather dry style, which means a lot of the details get lost. I recommend the dual approach – listen to a chapter to get the overall picture, then read it to pick up on the more subtle details.

Lord John is one of my favorite fictional characters, honorable, dedicated to family, highly intelligent, well-read, and cultured. His homosexuality makes him something of a loner, but it also allows him access to the more marginalized social elements of society. I look forward to reading more of him.