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Wet Grave (A Benjamin January Mystery Book 6) [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Hambly
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In such stunning novels of crime and character as Die Upon a Kiss, Sold Down the River, and A Free Man of Color, Benjamin January tracked down killers through the sensuous, atmospheric, dangerously beautiful world of Old New Orleans. Now, in this new novel by bestselling author Barbara Hambly, he follows a trail of murder from illicit back alleys to glittering mansions to a dark place where the oldest and deadliest secrets lie buried . . .

Wet Grave

It’s 1835 and the relentless glare of the late July sun has slowed New Orleans to a standstill. When Hesione LeGros--once a corsair’s jeweled mistress, now a raddled hag--is found slashed to death in a shanty on the fringe of New Orleans’s most lawless quarter, there are few to care. But one of them is Benjamin January, musician and teacher. He well recalls her blazing ebony beauty when she appeared, exquisitely gowned and handy with a stiletto, at a demimonde banquet years ago.

Who would want to kill this woman now--Hessy, they said, would turn a trick for a bottle of rum--had some quarrelsome “customer” decided to do away with her? Or could it be one of the sexual predators who roamed the dark and seedy streets? Or--as Benjamin comes to suspect--was her killer someone she knew, someone whose careful search of her shack suggests a cold-blooded crime? Someone whose boot left a chillingly distinctive print . . .

His inquiries at taverns, markets, and slave dances reveal little about “Hellfire Hessy” since her glory days in Barataria Bay, once the lair of gentlemen pirates. Then the murder is swept from his mind by the delivery of a crate filled with contraband rifles--and yet another telltale boot print left by its claimant. When a murder swiftly follows, Ben and Rose Vitrac, the woman he loves, fear the workings of a serpentine mind and a treacherous plot: one only they can hope to thwart in time.

All too soon they are fugitives of color in the stormy bayous and marshes of slave-stealer country, headed for smugglers’ haunts and sinister plantations, where one false step could be their last toward a...Wet Grave.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After an excruciatingly slow start, Hambly's sixth novel featuring Benjamin January (after 2001's Die Upon a Kiss) builds to hurricane force as the former slave and Creole surgeon looks into the murder of a drunken whore whom no one seems to care about. Despite his education and musical and medical accomplishments, January is only a short, catastrophic step up from bottom in the oddly stratified society of 1830s New Orleans. January proceeds as carefully with his investigation as he does with his wooing of Rose Vitrac, whose traumatic past he only partially knows and understands. Only when another murder strikes much closer to January's home and heart does the pace quicken. To a desire for vengeance is added a thirst for justice. Still cautious, but steeled by anger, January goes on a search that will lead beyond the fetid city into the surrounding bayous, swamps and islands. When the author hits her stride, the tension ratchets up to an almost unbearable level until the violence of man and the violence of nature are both unleashed. Hambly is terrifically effective in her portrayal of the squalid lives of the poor and enslaved and the contrasting opulence of the wealthy. The beautiful New Orleans of the future can only be glimpsed in the scrofulous, swampy, sewer-like summer heat that pervades everything. Hambly's strong and unusual series tracking a largely unexplored period of American history should continue to please fans and attract new readers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

New Orleans: July 1835. An elderly black woman, a free citizen, is found murdered. Is her death somehow connected to the notorious Jean Lafite and the gold he's said to have secreted away? Or could she have been killed so that two of New Orleans' wealthiest families could finalize their union? And can Benjamin January, the professional musician and amateur sleuth, find out whodunit before the killer strikes again? This is the sixth January novel, and like the previous installments, it's a splendid historical mystery. Hambly appears to know the period inside out; her depiction of New Orleans' contradictions--beauty and squalor side by side--is almost visceral in its detail. As with any good historical mystery, we are at least as captivated by the characters, dialogue, and environment as we are with the mystery itself. Benjamin January, a free black man in a society that regards black men as second class, is an original, exciting character. Series fans will be thrilled with his new adventure and will eagerly anticipate the next. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 498 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 29, 2003)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FBFNEC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,327 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, as usual July 9, 2002
By tregatt
Format:Hardcover
When it comes to historical mysteries, I'm pretty much an Anglophile. However, Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series is definitely one of my favourites. Every single book in the seires has been like a poem -- haunting, lyrical, and beautifully written -- and "Wet Grave" is no exception to this rule.
The opens with the discovery of a brutal murder. Hellfire Hessy, a raddled drunk who lived in a rather lawless shanty on the fringes of New Orleans, is found slashed to death. Because the police are a no show (there is a more socially prominent case that they've been called in on), Benjamin's sister, Olympe, calls upon Benjamin to do something about Hessy's murder. Benjamin recognises the dead woman as being Hesione LeGros, once the mistress of one of Jean Lafitte's corsair captains. And even as Benjamin is marveling at Hesione's fall from grace -- to go from being a courtesan of some renown to a drunken hag in a matter of a few decades -- he notices that there are indications that Hesione's murder, far from being some sort of random act of violence was actually a premeditated one. For Hesione's murderer, had not only waited for her to return to her shack, but (s)he had also carried out a methodical search of the room and of all of Hesione's belongings. Who would have wanted to kill Hesione? Why was she killed now, when she has become one of the flotsam's of life? And what was the murderer looking for? Saddened and angered (because the police are doing nothing) by Hesione's murder, Benjamin decides to do some digging of his own, little expecting the strange twists that this investigation will take, and how it will impact on his life...
I know some reviewer somewhere decided that this novel started too slowly for his/her taste.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's done it again! July 11, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I haven't been reading much since 9/11, I was right across the street, but when I saw the new Ben January book was out, I knew I'd be reading again.
And it was like finding an oasis after being lost in the desert. We're back with Ben, Rose, Abishag Shaw, and the city of New Orleans in the 1830's, with all the caste, class and racial striations on full view. It still amazes me how Ms Hambly gets inside of her characters, black and white, and everything in betweeen, presenting her reader with people you feel like you know. Chloe St Chinian was the most surprising character for me, after Rose Vitrac's metamorphosis of course. I missed Hannibal, and I like Shaw so much, filth and all. I just see Johnny Depp playing him, don't know why.And Dominique has become one of my faves, after Olympe and Ben of course. I even like Livia, their repressed and vicious mother. Contrast her with Hesione, and you see a "there but for the grace of God" situation.
I enjoyed it immensely, even the somewhat contrived happy ending for all concerned.
When is book seven coming out?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wet Grave June 26, 2002
Format:Hardcover
This is the continued saga of Benjamin January.
I was worried when Dragonstar disappointed me. I needn't have. This is an excellent work of historical fiction, which outshines the book immediately before it in the series and is as good as the series' best.
Far from being "excruciatingly slow", the opening of the book is fascinating. It shows us the character of a murdered woman, before time and an unforgiving society take their toll. It also sets up plot elements that will be important later, and gives us a glimpse into a world of privateers, adventurers, and pirates pure and simple.
From there, Wet Grave rockets on a twisting, turning path. January tries to find out who murdered a woman who was once the mistress of pirates. Meanwhile, a more high-profile murder on a plantation is more demanding of the police's time. Through alligators, gun-running, hurricanes, more murders and various thugs, the madcap plot speeds on to one of the best climaxes I've read. But despite the speed and the melodramatic elements, the book never loses touch with human emotions. At times it is both powerful and moving.
Characterization is excellent. I can't end the review without mentioning that one of my favorite characters in all of historical fiction, Lieutenant Shaw, gets a huge role here, and his vivid combination of the uncouth and the heroic comes across perfectly. (If I had psychic powers, I'd make the author write a book just about him.) January and Rose develop too, continuing to be believable, human characters.
If I have a criticism, it's that the final conclusion is epilogue-style, going into a distanced ominiscient viewpoint. I didn't mind that, but I suspect some readers may.
This is excellent historical fiction: wonderfully researched, gripping, moving, and relevant without being preachy. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Each one is better July 10, 2002
Format:Hardcover
When I read the first book in her Benjamin January series, I thought the great descriptions and information about New Orleans in the 1830s made up for what I considered plot defects. Well, the descriptions are still great, and I see no plot defects now!! Each book has just gotten better. Usually, a series gets a little tired after this many books, but not so with these. I am not going to go into an analysis of the plot, which can be gotten better elsewhere. I would simply recommend this book. My biggest fear is that now that several romantic threads are tied up, Hambly may end the series. Please, no!! And while I love Benjamin, I wouldn't mind learning more about Hannibal Sefton, Abishag Shaw, or even to see a mystery from Benjamin's voodoo queen sister's point of view. That might be a lot of fun, too!! At any rate, if you want a fun read, check out this series! But start with the first book and read them all!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, pirates, and a trip to Rose's old home place.
This was a fast read. with pirates thrown in for kicks. I liked reading about Ben and Rose in a different setting, and the plot moved along quickly. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MaryAW
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I have enjoyed all of Barbara Hambly's books about the old south.

As in other books I have read with Benjamin January as the primary character, He experiences many... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Barbara Conger
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Janvier
The Benjamin January series is terrific reading. I have been pacing myself through these stories so my evolving relationship isn't over too soon. Read more
Published 15 months ago by JQ
4.0 out of 5 stars WET GRAVE A GREAT READ
I HAVE LOVED THIS SERIES FOR A WHILE BUT LOST TOUCH WITH IT SO GLAD TO BE BACK ! RICH IN DETAILS AND LANGUAGE
Published 17 months ago by ReneeC. Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Crisp, fine plot, not at all soggy!
Another hit for Hambly....Love Ben and Hannibal Sefton; her characters are superb. Am reading my way through her series for the 2nd time.
Published 17 months ago by Karen Garnich
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful...simply wonderful
My opinion of these books continues to grow throughout the years as I had an edge over most of the other readers. Read more
Published on September 5, 2010 by Ankhenaton
5.0 out of 5 stars A Plot As Thick and Edgy as the Sultry Heat Swallowing the Deep South...
Not usually a fan of historical novels, I hesitated somewhat when I picked up a copy of Wet Grave by Barbara Hambly, but as fate would have it, I did buy the book, and I am ever... Read more
Published on August 1, 2010 by Sandra Carrington-smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Corsairs, Murder, and Benjamin January
The title of Barbara Hambly's novel comes from the expression "White men come to Louisiana seeking treasure and find a wet grave." (This is paraphrased. Read more
Published on August 17, 2009 by Toni V. Sweeney
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading while you are in New Orleans
I found this book while I was on a Plantation Tour in New Orleans. I love historical fiction and this is a good one. Read more
Published on February 10, 2009 by T. Oropeza
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read for history buffs and/or mystery fans
This novel is maybe not the best book in this series but even a "slightly below average" Hambly is better reading than many other authors. Read more
Published on March 24, 2007 by C. Moss
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