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Ran Away (A Benjamin January Mystery) Hardcover – December 1, 2011

31 customer reviews
Book 11 of 13 in the Benjamin January Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: A Benjamin January Mystery (Book 11)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Publishers; 1St Edition edition (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0727880829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0727880826
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Laura E. Herndon VINE VOICE on October 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The preceding two Benjamin January mysteries delved into the past of January's closest friends and allies, fiddler Hannibal Sefton and city guard lieutenant Abishag Shaw, including the events that shaped their extraordinary personalities and led them to the vibrant and volatile city that is 1830s New Orleans. Now the spotlight turns to Benjamin's first wife, the young Moroccan seamstress Ayasha. Her untimely death propelled Benjamin to return to his childhood home, despite having sworn as a young man never to do so when he fled oppression in New Orleans for the promise of liberty and brotherhood in Paris.

"Ran Away" takes us back to the life Benjamin shared with his first love in Paris before the cholera came. We not only get to know the feisty Ayasha but are introduced to several new characters that play important roles in the adventure leading up to Benjamin's present mission. Benjamin can't believe that the Turk, who once made a great personal sacrifice on Ayasha's behalf, is behind the murder of two of his own concubines. However, it seems the whole of New Orleans is all too convinced of the infidel's rapacious nature and guilt. Benjamin must fight past prejudice and preconceived notions to uncover a plot that stretches all the way back to his younger days in Paris. He also struggles to come to terms with the pain that the loss of Ayasha still causes him, despite his dedication to his wife Rose and new baby John.

Barbara Hambly brings us some intriguing new personalities that conceal surprising depths and secrets, as well as favorites like Shaw, Hannibal, Rose and Dominique in this welcome addition to the Benjamin January series. Reading this book is like an enjoyable evening spent with friends both old and new.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By avidreader on November 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since I first encountered Benjamin January and New Orleans in the 1830's I have become extremely fond of the characters created by Barbara Hambly in this series. Although her plots border on the extravagant the real extravagance of the historical period, which she seems to know quite well, supports them - and besides, they're really fun. Ms. Hambly's prose is always delightful and I can overlook her occasional howlers - a lay Catholic is NEVER allowed to absolve someone else's sins - for the pleasure of encountering again some of my favorite eccentrics. My only real regret is that Livia Levesque is unlikely to survive long enough to give us her opinion of Ben Butler, but then, I can hope. First to last, this series is full of humor, information, mental challenges and insight. Prominent in my memory is the concluding section of "The Shirt Off His Back," which works in my mind with "The Color of Lightning" and "Empire of the Summer Moon" to give an idea of how devastating the European diseases were to the Native American plains tribes. Any one of the January books is a great read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Chard on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WOW - one of my wishes has finally been granted, Ms. Hambly has now written of Ben's time in Paris and his first wife Ayasha in her new novel, "Ran Away". And it is a wonderful and beautiful and exciting novel! The tying together of Ben's past in Paris with his present in New Orleans is outstanding. As always Ms. Hambly has written a terrific mystery which includes all the wonderful characters that inhabit Benjamin's world - Rose, Hannibal, Constable Abishag Shaw, Gabriel, Zizi-Marie, Baby John, and introducing Huseyin Pasha, Sitt Jamilla and many others. I have been a continuing fan of this series after reading "A Free Man of Color", the first in Benjamin January's adventures. As I've written in my previous reviews, I continue to be amazed that none of these great books, with their amazing characters and spot-on portrayl of a terrifying time in American history has been made into a movie - they certainly deserve to be!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shirley Schwartz on March 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a long-time favourite of Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mysteries, and each one is stellar in its own right. With the last few books we have been getting glimpses into January's life while he was in Paris before he returned home to New Orleans. This book provides even more insight, and we see a whole bunch of new and interesting characters that we've only had glimpses of before such as his first wife Ayasha. And we have all the old friends that we have come to know and love like Hannibal, and Abishag Shaw and his current wife Rose. In this book we see that Benjamin has always been one to pursue justice at considerable risk to his own life. When a man from Benjamin's Paris past who is called "The Turk" who in this book finds himself charged with the murder of his two concubines, January knows in his heart that The Turk is not guilty based on what he knew of him in Paris ten years before. So he proceeds to try to prove his innocence while dodging plots and violence from January's own New Orleans enemies. January must battle his own personal memories in order to try to prove Huseyin Pasha's innocence. Ms. Hambly's period detail is remarkable. We as readers experience the fear and the uncertainty that a free man of colour had to deal with on a daily basis in 1837 New Orleans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cissa on August 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Another fascinating book in the "Free Man of Color" mystery series, set in New Orleans (mostly)

I love this series, and at this point have read almost ll of them currently written. Hambly has clearly done her research, and they bring a very different time and place into life. Benjamin January is not a "modern" man stuck in an archaic past; he's the result of his environment, which is clearly seen as we follow him about his life.

I especially liked that in this volume, we got to see some of his past, when he was living in Paris and married to his beloved Ayasha, whose death of cholera was the only thing that made him move back to the New Orleans he had sworn to leave behind forever. That's the first third of the book: an older mystery in Paris... which relates to a current one in New Orleans, which January is really the only person able to resolve it, though at risk to himself.

It's a vivid depiction of an era that seems distant to me, although it's easy to see the results ongoing. Also, Hambly writes fascinating characters, all of whom are coherent- whether we like them or not. They bring the past to life.

Highly recommended, though perhaps not the place to start with the series; there's a lot of relationships that one would overlook if one started here. Still, I think it would make sense.
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