Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John Grey, #0.5, #1.5, #2.5) (Audiobook)

Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Recorded Books Unabridged) - Diana Gabaldon, Jeff Woodman

Lord John and the Hellfire Club (#0.5, comes before LJ and the Private Matter)

 

The only actual short story in this short story collection, this sees John immediately home from his stint as warden of Ardsmuir Prison, where old acquaintances are eager to catch up. Some of them a little too eager. He finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery and conspiracy. 

 

This one is pretty quick and to the point, with only a couple of chapters, but Gabaldon knows how to pack a lot of detail and info into a tiny space. She never comes right out and says why John was exiled to Ardsmuir, but you get enough nuggets to piece it together here. 

 

Lord John and the Succubus (#1.5, comes between LJ and the Private Matter, and LJ and the Brotherhood of the Blade)

 

All of these "short" stories were originally written for paranormal anthologies, and this one easily makes the best use of that element. John's on campaign in Germany and there are rumors running amok about a succubus. John has to get to the bottom of it, while dodging advances from foreign princesses and trying to figure out just what Capt. Stephan von Namtzen is about. (OMG JUST KISS! BUT FOR REAL! GAAAHHH!) 

 

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (#2.5, follows after LJ and the Brotherhood of the Blade and comes before A Custom of the Army)

 

After John was injured on campaign in Brotherhood of the Blade, he finds himself in the middle of an inquest regarding his involvement in a cannon exploding. As he goes poking around to find out exactly what the military and the war office are trying so desperately to cover up, we meet one of John's half-brothers and find out that John's injuries are far more serious than previously thought. 

 

On one hand, I remembered this as being at the end of Brotherhood of the Blade, so there is pretty good transition from one to the other. On the other hand, maybe some mention of the more long-term effects of John's injuries could've been hinted at in the previous book, because it almost comes out of nowhere here, even though I think this one was written first. 

 

This one also has the least paranormal element of them all, as the "Haunted Soldier" is only glimpsed once and then never mentioned again. It seems the title is more a metaphor for John himself, and the ghost was thrown in only to meet the paranormal element for the anthology it originally appeared in. As a metaphor though, it works extremely well.

  

Jeff Woodman does his usual great job narrating here. Unfortunately, this audiobook had a lot of technical issues. I even deleted it and re-downloaded it to my Audible app, as well as tried it on iTunes, and had the same issues. There were a couple of instances of background noise, and LOTS of skipping/repeating of words and lines. Looking at reviews, it's not just my copy either, so this one will be returned to Audible, in the hopes it might eventually be fixed and rereleased.