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50 Books - 15 & 16

Lord John & the Hand of Devils
by Diana Gabaldon

The three mystery-adventure novellas of this volume span 1756 to 1758, in settings packed with dark secrets—and therefore dangers—for the soldier-hero with secrets of his own. The first novella finds Lord John swearing vengeance in London for a murdered government official, leading him to a deconsecrated abbey where members of the political elite indulge their basest desires. The second pits Lord John against a succubus that plagues his Prussian encampment, and combines humor with military strategy and supernatural myth. The third, most complex narrative finds Lord John investigating the cause of a cannon explosion in the English countryside that results in a fellow officer's death.

Lord John & the Brotherhood of the Blade
by Diana Gabaldon

Woodman masterfully reads Gabaldon’s latest historical mystery. His light British accent and occasionally delicate tones make protagonist Lord John Grey’s rare bouts of passion and anger seem even more profound. Grey’s regiment is wintering in London, and his mother’s upcoming marriage rekindles an old mystery about his father’s death. Grey’s investigation leads him to Hellwater, where Scottish Jacobite James Fraser is being held on parole. Woodman reads Fraser’s lines with a light and occasionally ferocious Scottish accent, reminding listeners of his prisoner status. From Irish soldier hooligans to Grey’s Prussian friends, the characters receive distinct treatments. Listeners may find some provocative homosexual sex scenes a bit disturbing, but this shouldn’t bother Gabaldon’s legion of fans. --Jessica Moyer