Lord John and the Private Matter

Written by Diana Gabaldon
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In 1757, Lord John Grey, a high-ranking member of the King’s army, is appointed to investigate a brutal murder. At the same time, Lord John discovers disturbing news about the man who is about to marry his cousin. Lord John’s goal becomes two-fold: to solve the murder and to prevent the marriage of his beloved cousin to a man he knows will destroy her.

Fairly normal stuff, right? Wrong. Lest we believe that Gabaldon has lost her knack, just consider the fact that Lord John is covertly – but actively – gay and involved in the gay subculture in London. Despite Lord John’s concerted efforts to remain “in the closet,” as it were, there is a constant subtext about his homosexuality and the possible ramifications of discovery.

Lord John is a complex character, as are most of Gabaldon’s. His balancing act – protecting the high rank he holds in His Majesty’s army and maintaining his equilibrium among friends and family – is a tough one. Gabaldon gets a little carried away, though, with plot twists and turns that, I admit, found me losing my way a couple of times. If you’re a Gabaldon fan, this first in the Lord John series will likely not be what you expect. If you’re not, it’s still worth the read if only for the fact that Gabaldon explores a world with which most of us are not familiar.