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Dead and Buried (A Benjamin January Mystery) Hardcover – May 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Sorrow, grief, and pain pervade Hambly's outstanding ninth Benjamin January mystery (after 2004's Dead Water), set in New Orleans during the summer of 1836. Trapped by poverty and the color of his skin, January, a free black who trained in France as a physician, goes undercover as a piano player in a high-class bordello to investigate possible embezzlement from the Faubourg Tremé Free Colored Militia and Burial Society. The discovery of a white man's body in a coffin meant for one of the FTFCMBS's members propels the justice-seeking January on a harrowing journey full of disturbing revelations to save a young English aristocrat from the gallows. Hambly's sure hand with historical detail, her convincing characterizations, and her view of the slave trade that debased both blacks and their white masters raise this tale of violence, deceit, and humiliation to a must-read commentary on human frailty and redeeming human friendship. (June)
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With his first appearance in A Free Man of Color (1997), Benjamin January emerged as one of the most unusual characters in the realm of historical mysteries, with his creator earning kudos for both her originality and her extraordinary attention to historical detail. If living as a free black in nineteenth-century New Orleans wasn’t enough to set January apart, his classical education, years of living in Paris, and knowledge of medicine made him truly unusual. Although January’s past investigations have earned him respect from many in his native city, his endeavors to save the life of an uncooperative young lord accused of murder are still hampered by long-held secrets and by vicious racism that puts January’s life at risk, time and again. Relayed through January’s perspective, the story gives an intimate picture of the intolerance and struggles of the time, but as carefully crafted as these matters are, Hambly is also talented enough to entertain. That’s two successes for the price of one. --Stephanie Zvirin
Top customer reviews
For those of us who have been long intrigued by the mysterious past of Hannibal Sefton, our patience has been amply rewarded. I will not deliver any spoilers here but say that I immensely enjoyed the history of how the erudite and courtly but dissolute Irishman ended up making his meager living fiddling in New Orleans, as well as the glimpse of those friends and family that he left behind him. Now that we know a little more about Sefton I'm looking forward to learning the background of the surreptitiously sharp Kaintuck City Guard Shaw and how he developed his passion for pursuing justice in the notoriously corrupt environment he works in.
Barbara Hambly has again delivered a mystery that compelled me to forsake sleep until the last page was turned. If you are looking for a mystery with absorbing multi-dimensional characters, an engrossing historical look at the unique racial and familial relations of New Orleans in the early 1800s or just simply an entertaining story you can not do wrong with any of Hambly's Benjamin January series!
I sure wish that one of the books in this great series would be made into a major motion picture or a Masterpiece Theater production. They truly deserve to be!