Outlander Book Club: Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 4 breakdown

Lord John attends a funeral in Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 4. Here's our breakdown of the chapter.
Outlander Season 3 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ
Outlander Season 3 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ /

The plot continues to thicken in Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 4. Lord John Grey realizes that there are more suspects in the murder.

Diana Gabaldon doesn’t slow down with the murder mystery in this novel. After the lengthy Outlander books, I appreciate the quicker pace of the Lord John Grey series of books. I like fast-paced books, especially when it comes to thrillers and mysteries.

There is something new we learn in each of the earlier chapters. John is figuring things out along with us after being away for so long. While he knows some of the people, he doesn’t know O’Connell or the situation, and I appreciate being able to delve into the story with him.

Breaking down Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 4

The chapter starts with Tom Bryd arriving at Lord John’s house. Tom is the brother of Jack, the man who kept an eye on O’Connell we learned about in the previous chapter. Of course, Tom wants to know what has happened to his brother.

Tom is Trevelyan’s footman. He’s never been a valet before, but he can help John, who is in the need of a shave. Tom shares that he’s practiced on pigs. Fortunately, the shave is good enough for John.

With that, the two men are able to head to look at O’Connell’s body, which is still smelly despite being washed. John notes a few marks, including one on O’Connell’s forehead. John also notes that the body was moved after death, which certainly leads to a suggestion that he was murdered. There are gractures on O’Connell’s skull, which could help to figure out how he was murdered.

The problem is that there are still so many possibilities as to why O’Connell was murdered. John quickly rules out foul play and robbery. This could have been linked to O’Connell’s work as a potential spy.

The two men need to head to O’Connell’s funeral procession, though. While there, O’Connell’s widow, who has already married Mr. Scanlon, is arguing with Iphegenia Stokes. It looks like Iphegenia was O’Connell’s widow, and after John has to get involved in the argument, she is the one who is able to walk away with O’Connell’s casket.

We also see the religious divide between the two women, which could also come up in the murder. O’Connell’s widow is Catholic while Iphegenia is Protestant.

Tom thinks that Iphegenia’s family spoke French, but they actually spoke Greek. John also learns that they were sailors, and this leads to John putting a few things together. The mark on O’Connell’s forehead looked to be that of a wooden heel, which sailors wear. Is it possible that Iphegenia or her family were involved in this murder? What did they have to gain?

Well, if O’Connell and Iphegenia were having an affair, it could be clear that her family wanted to protect her. I’d suggest to look at them as they may not have been happy if O’Connell wasn’t going to divorce his wife for her.

Could this chapter be used in a Lord John Grey spin-off?

This book moves fast, and each of the chapters are important to the overall story. If this book is used for a spin-off series, I could definitely see this chapter used. We’d have to see the entire story unfold to get to the bottom of the murder.

I could see some of the family members not being included in the story. It could end up a little messy and hard to control with a lot of extra people. Only the most important and a few extras would be needed. However, the chapter as a whole would definitely be necessary.

We need to see John pay respects to the body but also figure out how he was killed. I would love to see those detective skills at work. Then we would need to meet Iphegenia, and we would need to see her and the former Mrs. O’Connell arguing. These moments build up the red herrings for the story while also giving us the clues to help solve the murder with Lord John Grey.

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