Lord John Grey is an officer in the British military in 1757, at home in London for a brief bit of leave before reassignment. Things start out badly when in a public restroom with Joseph Trevelyan, his cousin's fiancÚ, Grey glimpses evidence that Trevelyan has contracted syphilis. If Trevelyan indeed has syphilis, Grey can't allow him to marry his cousin, but Grey needs to be absolutely certain of what he has seen before doing anything rash like ending the betrothal.
Grey goes to his friend and fellow military officer, Harry Quarry, for advice and help in investigating the matter. In exchange, Quarry asks Grey for help in investigating a possible spy among their military division. But things get much worse--and much more complicated!--when the spy turns up dead without the military documents which he stole and Trevelyan is seen sneaking out of a brothel dressed as a woman! Grey must figure out who killed the spy and what happened to the military documents, as well as what kind of man Trevelyan really is!
This report prepared by Eucalia
Delacorte, Oct 2003, 23.95, 320 pp.
In 1757, Major John Grey, an aristocrat concludes he must end his cousin Olivia's engagement to John Trevelyn because he knows the man suffers from the pox. After consulting on the delicate matter with his military superior, Colonel Quarry also assigns John to investigate stolen ordnance requisitions, which unless recovered will force the English armies on the continent to make costly relocations to avoid massacres.
John begins his inquiries with the homicide of soldier Timothy O'Connell who is the prime suspect. Evidence takes John to a whorehouse and subsequently to a gay gentleman's house, Lavender House that he knows intimately from five years ago. He continues to follow the trail that leads to a small specialty wine shop and from there to the murder of a wine maker wearing a dress. As he closes in on the military case, he makes major progress on the personal matter too, but does not realizing the two connect. John forces the end of Joseph's engagement to Olivia, but also is drugged by the man.
Though readers need to understand that this is not a romance and the likable hero has a gay encounter, the novel still is the typical Gabaldon book. The insightful Georgian espionage mystery is rich with a taste for the era, but not just the typical kind found in mid eighteenth century novels. John, who has appeared in previous novels such as THE FIERY CROSS, is a delightful hero and the support cast adds depth to the era and to the suspense including a rather surprising heterosexual love story.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner