*Starred Review* The prolific Hambly returns to her popular Benjamin January series with a tale that jumps from New Orleans in the late 1830s, with free man of color January—a musician, surgeon, and Underground Railroad conducter—navigating between the French, American, free black, and slave communities, and back to Paris, 10 years earlier, when he was married to Ayasha, his first wife. Connecting the two time frames is January’s friend, Hüseyin Pasah, known as “The Turk,” who is believed to have strangled his two concubines and thrown the bodies out a window. January isn’t buying that. He knows the Turk from their time together in Paris and doesn’t believe he would harm the women. Investigating the case, January treads a thin line, as always, knowing that his freedom and that of his present wife, Rose, and their baby son could so easily be taken away. Who would vouch for January as a free black if he was caught by a white slave trader in the wrong part of town? Hambly seamlessly combines two mysteries here, the one in the Paris backstory, which has January and the Turk searching for one of the concubines, and the one in the present involving the attempt to clear the Turk of the concubines’ deaths. The touching portrait of January’s love for his two very different wives as well as the incredible period detail and rich atmosphere make this stand out among historical mysteries. Suggest it to readers who also enjoy Jason Goodwin’s Investigator Yashim series. --Jessica Moyer
About the Author
Barbara Hambly holds a degree in medieval history from the University of California and has written novels in many genres, from mysteries to science fiction and fantasy. Married to science fiction writer George Alec Effinger, she lives in Los Angeles and teaches at a local college.
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