Lord John and the Private Matter

Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon Amended review: Feb 20123+ starsOK, I have to admit that a lot of my prejudice about Lord John has to do with his obsession over Jamie... and the LJ books being my first real foray into literature that dealt overtly with homosexuality. I don't think of myself as prejudiced (who does?), and I've worked with and know several gay people. I just don't like thinking about their sex lives any more than I typically like thinking about anyone's sex life; but DG has a way with intimate scenes, and she clearly loves Lord John Grey. She's used him as her champion in many respects.I initially started reading the Lord John Grey books because a) the information in them fills a gap in time in Jamie's life in "Voyager" (book 3), b) because obviously DG sees LJ as a major character and so this series helps fill in more about Lord John and his motivations, c) because I was preparing to read "Lord John and The Scottish Prisoner", due out in Nov 2011, and d) I wanted to read more DG books.This is the 2nd "story" in the Lord John Grey books, the 1st being the short story "Lord John and the Hellfire Club" (published as 1 of 3 short stories in "Lord John and the Hand of the Devil"). In "Lord John and the Private Matter", LJ is faced with a dilemma. While in the mens' room (so to speak), he inadvertently noticed a mark on Lord Joseph Trevelyan's privates that indicates syphilis (pox); and Trevelayn is engaged to be married to Lord John's cousin, Olivia. Trevelayn is very connected, very rich, and from a very old family. The connection makes it a wonderful match, but LJ worries for his cousin, Olivia. So he tries to figure out how to be certain that Trevelayn is indeed suffering from syphilis, and then he'll figure out how to call off the wedding.While wondering how to accomplish this, Grey runs into a fellow officer, who tells him about the recent death of a sergeant in their regiment, Sergeant O'Connor. Grey decides to accompany his fellow officer to the O'Connor residence to give his condolences and present the death duty to the widow. While O'Connor was found in the Thames, his body was obviously beaten soundly. And when Grey meets the Widow O'Connor, she's clearly 6 months pregnant; their regiment just returned, so the widow's played her husband false - probably with the apothecary who runs the shop below her rooms, Scanlon. But the complication is that the Widow O'Connor has also recently been badly beaten, and Grey recalls that O'Connor had a very bad temper.While pondering all of this, Grey's superior, Harry Quarry (who was the previous Governor of Ardsmuir Prison before Grey) confides in Grey that O'Connor is suspected of treason - stealing papers that mentioned troop requisitions for their regiment's next campaign and passing that information on to spies or those who would profit from knowing where a large British regiment was next to be stationed, and presumably, fighting. Quarry appoints Grey to determine whether or not O'Connor really did have the treasonous papers, and whether his death had to do with his having that information.Along the way, Grey finds himself entangled in a web of deceit, lies, and mystery, which also seem to involve and implicate Trevelyan. Grey meets Stephan van Namtzen, a Hessian officer who takes an instant liking to Grey, and while it's implied at the end of the book that Grey finds himself "liking" van Namtzen, we aren't certain whether Stephan shares Lord John Grey's sexual preferences or not. But LJ does find danger in that he must darken the alleyways and doors of molly-houses and The Lavendar House (a refined "gentleman's" club for gay men) while pursuing Trevalyan and O'Connor.The book is somewhat muddled with lots of characters, places, and secrets. It's sometimes difficult for the reader to catch up and figure out how all of these pieces-parts fit into the mystery, as a whole. And in the final reveal, it's almost impossible for the reader to have ascertained all of the relevant information until the principles are revealing it to Lord John. In other words, this isn't a "mystery" that the reader can legitimately figure out all on his or her own; the reader learns and assimilates the information as Lord John does. In fact, I found that LJ was necessary to my understanding of the people and events, since there are so many characters and aspects to the mystery. So my original comment about that being a detractor to the story still stands.But the story is enlightening and informative. It introduces us to many other characters who will play a part in Lord John Grey's story, up to and including Jamie Fraser in "The Scottish Prisoner". Seeing as this was somewhat of an experiment for the author, I can overlook and somewhat forgive the muddle. It was her first shot at a mystery, and overall, the story stands. It's still not my favorite book, nor my favorite in the Lord John Grey series. But if you're at all a Diana Gabaldon follower, and if you're at all interested in how and why she thinks that LJG is essential to the Outlander (Jamie & Claire) story, this book is part of that essential knowledge.1st read: August 17, 20112.5 starsOK book - I read these because Lord John is a character from the Outlander series, and these books take place in a time frame between Outlander 2 & 3. Lord John is an interesting character to me, and I was intrigued to find out more about him and how he got to be the person he is by Outlander book #7. But, it took awhile for me to care about this storyline. I understand WHY Lord John is concerned about his cousin Olivia's impending marriage to a man who might not be suitable. But the mystery part of it was... overlong in getting going. I had a bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight, which hindered my understanding of the overall mystery/story.I will say I learned a thing or two. The author *does* her research, and her bibliography list in the back of the book intrigued me.If you like the Lord John character, read this book to decide if you want to continue with this Lord John series.