Wet Grave Hardcover – Jun 25 2002
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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.
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
Top Customer Reviews
In this story, a woman (former placee) is murdered and the local police don't have time to investigate as a plantation owner has been killed. Angered by the lack of justice, Ben decides to investigate on his own.
The story is excellent. I just would like to see more of my favorite characters, Shaw, Hannibal and Olympe. I wasn't a big fan of Rose (Ben's girlfriend) but she seemed to get a little better in this episode. Also the addition of Henri's wife Chloe seems like it will be a good one.
What I particularly liked was that I didn't have to understand French or be familiar with opera or be a history buff to get it! I also didn't did to create a character reference to keep everyone straight.
On the downside, the descriptions of New Orleans and the narrative is just not as well done as in the first novel in this series.
But I love the series and can't wait for the next one.
I think I like mysteries more for the backstory and characterization than for the puzzle, but this one should appeal to mystery fans of either sort, as well as history buffs and those who can see a good novel even cloaked in a genre package.
I loved seeing Ben and Rose's relationship progress. Since this is a Barbara Hambly book, you can't expect them to go through gunfire, fire, and a hurricane with just a few scratches, but it isn't all bad, thank goodness.
Hellfire Hessy's murder made me feel sad that so much of her life was wasted, but the second murder is even worse. Remember the old phrase, "Hanging's too good fer them?" Apply that to the killers.
Better take mental notes because some of the information that you might suspect is just local color isn't. It *will* make sense later. That includes the pirate lore, which was fascinating in its own right.
Abishag Shaw (what kind of parents named their son for one of King David's concubines???) is still sharp and sharp shooting. It's nice to see the Long Arm of the Law actually respect the amateur detective. It's also nice that he's not stupid.
I still have to laugh that the publisher of Ms. Hambly's mysteries is being so cagey about not mentioning her fantasy writing. I have plenty of friends and relatives who read both genres. I suspect we're hardly alone in that.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book and literally could not put it down. The start is a bit confusing, but the mastery with which Hambly constructed her final batttle between good and evil - with... Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2002
This is a pleasant addition to one of my favorite series. After so many disappointments lately finding consistent quality in books by some of my favorite authors it is refreshing... Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2002 by plum9195
Barbara Hambly's unique series, set in post-Civil War south continues to emerge as one of the best series out there. Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2002 by Michael Butts
I have been a big fan of the Benjamin January series, written by Barbara Hambly, ever since the beginning. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2002 by David Roy
I just re-read this book, having read it for the first time last summer, and wasn't as thrilled with it then as I am now. I've changed my mind. It is truly fabulous. Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2002 by Sophia
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. Read morePublished on July 11 2002
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... Read morePublished on July 10 2002 by Amazon Customer
I have been reading this series faithfully. I believe this one, so full of all the regular characters (save one), once more saturated in the New Orleans culture of the early... Read morePublished on July 9 2002