Lord John and the Custom of the Army by Diana Galbadon. Read in 2016 on 8/24 and 9/11, and again on 11/11. I liked it. I recommend it to Outlander Series fans, science fictional history fans, and fans of fiction with a homosexual hero.
We start at a society party attended by Lord John. It is a theme party where an entertainer with an electric eel shocks members of the party for the amusement of the guest. Lord John is manipulated into being the guest at the front of the line who is to grasp the eel while holding hands with another guest. Party guests form a string of dozens of guests holding hands tightly. Lord John then reaches into the tank with the eel and proceeds to be electrocuted, sending a jolt through the crowd knocking many completely off their feet or twitching madly, unable to control their movements.
Lord John, electrocuted to death, lay prone on the floor. He is revived with some form of resuscitation. Pounding on his chest, I believe. Lucky for John the sliver of shrapnel lodged near his heart from a war wound had recently worked itself through his skin where he was able to extract it. Had he not extracted it this electrocution would have been fatal.
There’s a duel with a character named Nicholls, a flirtatious an offensive poet. The time between the shock which rendered John dead and the duel was a psychogenic fugue type mental fog to John. Dazed and amazed Nicholls had fired and missed him, John attempted to shoot into the air insuring no one would be harmed.
Lord John’s brother, Colonel Hal Grey, His Grace, the Duke of Pardlue, and Earl of Melton hears of it next morning. A brief time later he also learns the Nicholls who was wounded in the duel with Lord John has died. It is all very complicated, I urge you to read the book for the details.
While Nicholls’ death is not directly related to the illegal duel, John is soon on his way to Canada, by order of his commander and brother, His Grace, Colonel Hal Grey, Duke, etc. etc. Probably to remove him from any justice that may be demanded, but also because Lord John has specifically been requested in a matter of a courts martial. Once there Lord John is to locate a Captain Charles Carruthers who was being Court martialed for failure to put down a mutiny against a senior officer named Major Gerald Siverly .
Carruthers who could certainly avoid the courts marshal has insisted upon it, much to Lord John’s surprise, and is equally surprised to learn that Carruthers has asked for him specifically.
If you have not read many Lord John stories they become mysteries at some point. His meeting with Carruthers is somewhat akin to the Impossible Mission Force tape running until it self destructs and Lord John must become a quasi Sherlock Holmes. Carruthers has accused Major Siverly of corruption and a number of other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
For a short piece, this one packs in quite a bit of entertainment. Lord John gets to have a heated homosexual encounter he is usually fascinating about. All the better since he seems rather obsessed with every male butt if he isn’t getting some. For the faint of heart Diana Galbadon spares most the graphics in this one.
Lord John has a cousin “Captain Stubbs” (by marriage) who provides a brief scene enraging Lord John among the Red Herrings in the mystery. We get some absolute chaos being in the middle of an insane battle where, coincidentally, he is saved from certain death by one Major Gerald Siverly who John has been asking about in regards to the accusations by Carruthers, Siverly’s previous adjunct.
For a novella (23,179 words), this one seemed like a novel. There’s electrocution, a duel, trip to Canada, the Carruthers plot, the Stubbs plot, “fishing with an Indian Manoke’ for a week” plot, pregnant Indians, pox epidemic, buying children, French Mission, Battle of Quebec, Battle ships, Berserker Scots, a crazy general, being dead, being one second from being slaughtered… not to mention Diana has comments before and after the novella that are enlightening. It’s worth a read. This review includes the eAudiobook narrated by Jeff Woodman and Published by Recorded Books, Inc. I often like to read and listen simultaneously.
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2012 Dell eBook Edition, Copyright © 2010 by Diana Gabaldon