Book of the Day
Murder in July
Murder in July by Barbara Hambly is the first of the Benjamin January books that I have read, but I was so engrossed by the story that I have already acquired a copy of the first in the series, A Free Man of Color and plan to spend the next few months (maybe weeks if I can keep up the pace I ripped through Murder in July with) reading the entire series.
Benjamin January is a Free Man of Color living in New Orleans in 1839 with his wife Rose. They are expecting a child and plan to open a school for the education of free girls of color. Although Benjamin was trained as a surgeon, he is unable to find work as such due to his dark skin and the ignorance of the times. He earns his living as a musician. He is offered $100 by a British officer to find the murderer of his friend, but Benjamin refuses—at first. It isn’t until he discovers that the murder weapon was also used in a different murder that happened in Paris 9 years ago
The story itself is wonderful. It is a classic mystery with all the intrigue and suspense a reader could desire. But, even more fascinating, are Hambly’s descriptions of New Orleans in 1839 and the lives of those that live there. I lived in New Orleans many years ago, but I was able to recognize many of the locations and the remnants of the attitudes from that era that shaped New Orleans unique culture. Hambly certainly did her research and she is remarkably talented at relating all of that information into a rich and emotionally engaging story.