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Dead Water [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Hambly
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $5.98
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Nineteenth-century New Orleans is a blazing hotbed of scorching politics and personal vendettas. And it's into this fire that Benjamin January falls when he is hired to follow Oliver Weems, a bank official who has absconded with $100,000 in gold and securities. But it's more than just a job for January. The missing money is vital to the survival of the school for freed slaves that he and his wife Rose have founded.

Following the suspected embezzler--and the money--onto the steamboat Silver Moon, January, Rose, and their friend Hannibal Sefton are sworn to secrecy about the crime until they can find the trunks containing the stolen loot. And then the unexpected happens: Weems is found murdered and suddenly the job of finding the pirated stash grows not only more difficult--but more deadly. There is no shortage of suspects--from the sinister slave-dealer to the bullying steamship pilot to the suspiciously innocent "lady" with connections to every river pirate in the riotous port of Natchez-Under-the-Hill--who all seem to have something to hide.

Now, with time running out, January seeks clues wherever he can find them--and allies among whoever can help. Working in tandem with a young planter named Jefferson Davies, he must uncover the dark web of corruption, betrayal, and greed that has already cost one man his life...and, if he can't catch a brutal, remorseless killer, will soon cost January and his friends theirs.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hambly's brilliantly crafted eighth historical (after 2003's Days of the Dead) brings the antebellum South so alive you could swear the author traveled back in time to observe her settings firsthand. One day a week the slaves of New Orleans gather at Circus Square (aka Congo Square): "Those who had garden plots sold their surplus produce: tomatoes and corn… and peaches whose scent turned the thick hot air around them to molten gold." Series hero Benjamin January, a former slave, and his gracious wife Rose own a fine home in which they've begun a school to educate young girls of color. But when the president of the bank where all the Januarys' money has been deposited comes to them and confides that a bank employee has cleaned out the coffers, the pair have only one choice: follow the thief and recover the money before a substantial payment is due on their mortgage. Enlisting the aid of their cultured and charming white ne'er-do-well friend, Hannibal Sefton, the two pose as Hannibal's slaves/servants and board a steamboat heading up the Mississippi River. On the boat, they find themselves amid slave runners, abolitionists and a host of interesting, unsavory and downright terrifying individuals. So when their quarry is transformed into a corpse, it's no wonder the trio have no idea who might be trusted. This riveting novel of suspense is sure to win Hambly many new fans.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The latest entry in the deservedly popular Benjamin January series finds the amateur sleuth investigating a couple of mysteries. The bank that holds all his money has suddenly and suspiciously collapsed, and someone has apparently put a curse on a former student in the small school operated by January's wife, Rose. Just goes to show: New Orleans, circa 1836, is a wild and dangerous place. The January novels--this is the eighth since 1997--are solid mysteries, but most readers are not tuning in for the plots. Perhaps because she started out writing sf and fantasy novels (and still keeps her hand in the genre), the author has a sure grasp of the art of writing historical fiction, and the novels in this series are clever mixtures of scholarship and imagination. Where many writers of historical mysteries get bogged down in exposition, or in cataloging details that most readers are not interested in, Hambly keeps things moving, always focused on her characters and her story, and not on showing off the quantity of research she's done. Keep 'em coming! David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 610 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553581562
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 3, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1TE4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,952 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On a steamship we will go... October 16, 2004
In Dead Water, Barbara Hambly gives us what could be the last of the Benjamin January series of suspense novels (her web site says that a decision won't be made on further entries until next year). If that is the case, she chose a more regular novel than usual to go out on. It's not that it's a bad book, because I still loved it. However, it's a lot more straightforward and not as intricate as past January books. It's still worth checking out, though.

In Dead Water, Ben & Rose are startled and frustrated to hear that the manager of the bank where they have all of their money (obtained in a previous adventure) saved in order to make their final payment on their house has stolen it all and is heading up the Mississippi river on a steamboat. The new manager asks Ben to book passage on the same boat and attempt to figure out where the gold and bank notes are. Ben engages the help of his old friend, Hannibal, in their quest, as Hannibal is able to act the role of master to Ben's slave to avoid suspicion. Once they get on the boat, they stumble on to more intrigue than just a case of missing gold. Secret affairs, slave trading, a voodoo curse and a man who makes a living stealing slaves complicate matters. Ben has to sort it all out while still keeping his cover and not acting like an "uppity black man." It's a good thing there's a future president of the Confederacy on board, especially when the bank manager ends up dead.

This sounds like a complicated plot, so why did I say it's more straightforward than usual? Usually, the situation that Ben & Rose find themselves in is very complex. Twists and turns abound and it can get confusing for the reader at times. There were times where I wasn't quite sure what was going on. This wasn't the case in Dead Water.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Emotionally Powerful Book! August 31, 2004
It's very difficult to pick the best Benjamin January novel, but I really did enjoy this one. The suspense kept building and building throughout the book until the final amazing chapter. In this book we really get to see what being a passenger on a steamboat in the 1830's was like. And January himself - who appears larger than life - has grown and developed into a really well-rounded and well-developed character, and he truly makes this series. It is also Ms. Hambly's skill with weaving plots, settings and characters that makes this series so exceptional. In this book January, his wife Rose and their friend Hannibal are passengers on a river boat as they are trying to track down a thief who has threatened one of the New Orleans banks. It is even more important for Ben because the bank that was robbed happened to be his own bank, and unless he and his wife and friend can find the missing money, Ben and Rose will lose everything they hold dear. What more can I say? This book is as close to a masterpiece as any you'll find in the historical thriller genre.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvelous historical mystery August 3, 2004
In 1836 Bank of Louisiana President Hubert Granville wearily and depressingly informs his friend free man of color Benjamin January that his four thousand dollars is gone and the bankrupt firm can only make good with three hundred dollars. Hubert believes that bank manager Oliver Weems stole the specie and note reserves.

Ben learns that the crooked Oliver is leaving town on the steamboat Silver Moon. He and Rose also go on the steamboat hoping to catch Oliver with the loot. Ben acts as a valet to a white friend while Rose goes below, as required, to stay with the other free female Negroes and slaves. However, finding the stash proves difficult when someone tosses Weems into the Mississippi while the Underground Railroad works a watery route. As Ben gets involved with freeing slaves, battling with a so-called abolitionist, and a few other major sidebars, he has little time to concentrate on learning who killed weasel Weems and what happened to the money.

Few writers can provide as picturesque and complete look at life in pre Civil War New Orleans than Barbara Hambly does. Her latest tale DEAD WATER furbishes her usual full plate of historical tidbits entwined into a fabulous mystery. Besides the voodoo and the Twain like Mississippi descriptions, just the water route of the Underground Railroad will surprise readers into a slight paradigm though a river route seems so obvious. The crime elements hook the audience and Ben remains a wonderful protagonist so that combined with the enhanced setting fans receive a marvelous historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, emotionally involving and memorable August 15, 2004
By C. Bigg
The Benjamin January series is one of the best historical series being written today, mystery OR mainstream. Hambly's breadth of research and talent for creating atmosphere is matched by the depth and realism of her characters, resulting in a Dickensian portrait of ante-bellum New Orleans that is suspenseful, emotionally involving and utterly memorable.

"Dead Water" is in my opinion the "breakout" novel of the series, raising the stakes to include the whole institution of slavery. Extraordinarily satisfying -- highly recommended.

My only complaint is the wait of (what looks like) two years to find out what happens next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Benjamin January mystery yet August 9, 2004
I got hooked on Benjamin January books when I visited New Orleans for the first time a couple years ago. New Orleans is such a fascinating, historical city, and Barbara Hambly captures that feeling of what it must have been like to live in New Orleans in the early 1800's. I've read all her Benjamin January books. "Dead Water," in my opinion, is the best yet of the series. Sometimes in her other books, I've gotten weighed down with too many characters to keep track of. The characters in "Dead Water" are excellent. The book also ends with a hint of future endeavors for Ben and Rose, and it sounds as if it will be very interesting. I am looking forward to the next book already.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Black history month must read.
Barbara Hambly has made her characters visual and her stories interesting to the last page turn. She adds the back story to each book and presents it in an connected manner. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Terri
5.0 out of 5 stars January does it again!
I love Barbara Hambly and this is another great one from her. Her characters stay with me long after the tale is ended.
Published 12 months ago by maggie
5.0 out of 5 stars Still got it
Another January book! How can one not love it? Ms. Hambly stays fresh and her characters are as interesting now as they were in the beginning - more so.
Published 13 months ago by Karen Garnich
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine and enlightening read
A thoughtfully crafted, historically authentic mystery with a plot so tight and so urgent I could not easily leave off reading it. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Susan Schroeder
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Again we are transported into a world of mystery and intrigue worthy of late hours spent walking along Benjamin January as he solves mysteries topped with a serving of social... Read more
Published 23 months ago by rhonda
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Water
As with all of the Benjamin January series, I love that I am learning a little about early 19th century New Orleans while thoroughly enjoying myself. Read more
Published on November 8, 2012 by Kelly Wakelin
5.0 out of 5 stars Journeying Upriver
Dead Water (2004) is the eighth suspense novel in the Benjamin January series, following Days of the Dead. The initial volume in this series is A Free Man of Color. Read more
Published on November 11, 2010 by Bill Jordin
5.0 out of 5 stars History from A seldom seen Point of View !
Barbara Hambly writes superb American historical suspense novels.She tells truths,with gut wrenching historical accuracy and yet with compassion and the kind of suspense that makes... Read more
Published on November 25, 2008 by M. Rosen
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Water
Always a fascinating read, the Benjamin January series opens a window to New Orleans in the 1830s.
Published on August 25, 2008 by JJ Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Hambly is the best
Every time I have the opportunity to recommend a book, I recommend the entire Benjamin January series. Read more
Published on February 14, 2008 by Lanier Cordell
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