LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. By Diana Gabaldon. Delacorte. 320 pages. $25.
Lord John Grey is back for more intrigue and personal suffering in the third in a series of books, this time a compilation of three novellas.
The first and shortest, "Lord John and the Hellfire Club," was previously published in an anthology and as an e-book, but ardent fans will enjoy a re-read about a young man's murder and Grey's close encounter with the occult via the notorious Hellfire Club.
"Lord John and the Succubus," also previously published, has a gloomy Gothic-fiction feel (and a great title), with a pair of mysterious deaths, wild superstition and the usual accompanying danger.
The new novella in this collection, "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier," picks up where the previous novel, "Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade," left off, although it's very readable as a stand-alone work.
Grey is barely recovered from injuries he received when a cannon exploded in Germany, and now finds himself before inquisitors who apparently intend to blame him (or his half brother) for the blast. The mystery unfolds as Grey's anxiety wanes. Oh, and there is a ghost.
Again, Grey's subtly snarky humor and Diana Gabaldon's compelling storytelling combine for a solid read, perhaps one of this author's shortest.