I had a bit of a reading-fest yesterday. I find sometimes stepping away and cramming in some good books will give my own writing the extra added punch it needs. I often find myself inspired to _do better_. That's what happened with LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER by Diana Gabaldon.
Brief synopsis: Lord John is pulled into the investigation of a murder of a fellow soldier as well as a more personal matter relating to his family. He juggles the two lines of inquiry, which in turn, pull him into some of the seedier parts of London -- forcing him to rehash events from his past as he closes in on the truth. (Hey, at least I didn't throw beloved in there.)
Okay, let me begin by saying I'm a HUGE fan of Diana's OUTLANDER series. So much so, I sort of hesitated to read this book. To put it simply, if Jamie and Claire weren't in it, I didn't want to read it. (G) I love those two characters that much. However, over the last year I've read several snips of LJ and he really began to grow on me. You could say Diana did a fine job of wooing me to see the error of my ways.
This book only solidifies my liking of the character. He has a certain regality...an ability to carry himself well despite the ludicrous/horrifying situations he was called upon to suffer in this book. He's smooth -- that's all I can say. (g) He presents such an unruffled exterior that when he does have certain moments of awkwardness, I found myself laughing uncontrollably by how he manages to pull it all off with a sense of grace. When he has moments of weakness, I felt the loss of control and the sorrow it created within him. When he recalled lost lovers/loves, it was heartwrenching. He made me laugh and cry.
Once again, the writing in this book is excellent. It flowed, went at a great pace, and ended well. Diana dropped enough clues along the way that when the final AHA moment came, I didn't feel like she pulled an ending out of nowhere. The imagery was wonderful and I felt like I was _there_. There's one particular scene where LJ was rather uncomfortable, sweating profusely, etc... I felt the misery of it all. LOL. I found myself wanting to urge him to get the heck out of the cramped building because _I_ couldn't handle it anymore! Now that's writing.
Her other characters are painted marvelously -- I especially enjoyed his mother who seems to have a bit of wild streak despite her position in society (g), and von Namtzen, the plumed maniac. I'm really looking forward to the next book.
Buy or Rent? Buy. (Run!)