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An Echo in the Bone    by Diana Gabaldon order for
Echo in the Bone
by Diana Gabaldon
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This seventh in the vastly popular series alternates between the eighteenth-century and the modern day, North America and Scotland. Back in time, it follows the continuing exploits (during the American Revolution) of former Jacobite Jamie Fraser and time traveler/physician Claire Randall as well as Jamie's nephew Ian Murray and his dog Rollo. In twentieth-century Scotland, Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna, her husband Roger and their two children settle back into modern life, which turns out to have its own perils.

What makes it all even more entertaining than usual is the letters that Jamie and Claire have written and left for their loved ones separated in time - these give readers regular summaries of events from hero and heroine's unique perspectives. As Jamie, Claire and Ian wend their way through some of the key conflicts of the day (on land and at sea) - and meet major players like Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold - they do their best to avoid Jamie's illegitimate son William, Earl of Ellesmere. But of course events conspire to toss them together - and make them targets for each other - again and again.

Fans will also be delighted to find Lord John Grey - who is 'united in that kinship of responsibility' with Jamie - lurking amongst the pages of An Echo in the Bone. He's kept busy investigating a French Connection with interests in both the outcome of the war and in Fraser and his clan, and also trying to discover what his niece Dottie has been plotting with William. In the meantime, the latter gets involved in intelligencing, which he discovers can be a most uncomfortable profession - and learns things he'd rather not have known.

Early on in the book, a tragic encounter with Archie Bug arouses his ferocious enmity for Ian and those he loves - that group growing to include young Quaker Rachel Hunter (whose brother Denzell is a physician who had spent time in England). The threat of Archie's vengeance hangs like a sword of Damocles over the story. In the modern day, Roger seeks a calling, and Brianna finds a job. They meet a time traveler from the past and discover that their children have inherited an affinity for standing stones, a talent that some want to exploit.

This - as well as Jenny Murray's re-entry into Claire's and Jamie's life - sets the scene nicely for the next episode in this outstanding saga. Diana Gabaldon gives her legion of fans excellent value in An Echo in the Bone - though it's quite a tome, its pages fly by and leave readers hungering to know what comes next for a set of engagingly colorful characters who by now feel like old friends.

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