Graveyard Dust (Benjamin January, Book 3)

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9780553102598: Graveyard Dust (Benjamin January, Book 3)
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Bestselling author Barbara Hambly's A Free Man of Color and Fever Season established Benjamin January as a man to be reckoned with--and one of this decade's most exciting mystery heroes. Now he returns in a powerful new novel, a sensual mosaic of old New Orleans, where cultures clash and murder can hover around every darkened corner....

It is St. John's Eve, the summer of 1834. Creole gentlemen lounge in the French Town's gambling halls, gaslight flickers on satin-clad dancers, and African drums echo softly through the impenetrable darkness of night. Outside a bustling American mansion linger the telltale signs of voodoo. Inside, Benjamin January plays piano waltzes at a fashionable soirée. But the long, hot night is shattered when Benjamin receives disastrous news: his sister--mystical, rebellious Olympe--has been arrested for murder.

Olympe is accused of poisoning young Isaak Jumon at the behest of his wife, Célie. Isaak's body has never been found, and both suspects swear to their innocence. But authorities have the testimony of Isaak's brother, Antoine, to back their claims. In a hazy account, Antoine says he was led by a stranger to an empty house, where he witnessed the dying Isaak utter his last, incriminating words. The Guards have only a shadow of a case. But Olympe and Célie are both women of color, whose chances of justice are slim. And Olympe, a known devotee of the voodoo gods, is soon cast into a sweltering jailhouse tainted with deadly fever.

Fearing a frame-up, Benjamin wonders who would want to see his sister hanged--and how he can vindicate her and Célie before a jury is rushed to judgement. As Benjamin probes the convoluted enmities of the Jumon family, he is targeted by a different kind of power: graveyard dust sprinkled at his door, whispering of a voodoo death curse.

To save Olympe's life, and his own, Benjamin must glean information wherever he can find it, from the most elegant courtyards to the hidden quarters of runaway slaves. He will rely on both his Parisian manners and his African roots to uncover the evil and deadly truth. For Benjamin knows that in the heavy darkness of New Orleans, the truth is what you make it, and justice can disappear with the night's warm breeze as easy as...Graveyard Dust.

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Review:

Benjamin January's life is such a mixture of exotic elements and influences that Barbara Hambly's historical mysteries about him often seem to be in danger of exploding. There's his very black skin in a society that equates lightness to class; his shaky status as a free man in 1830s slave-owning New Orleans; the music that he loves but now has to play at parties to make a living because he can't practice as a doctor in America. Graveyard Dust, the third in Hambly's fine series, adds the murky religion of voodoo to the mixture. Ben's older sister, Olympe, practices that ancient art and winds up being charged with murder by a frightened and suspicious police force. Then there's the yellow fever epidemic that has broken out, threatening not only public health but the financial future of several powerful citizens.

What keeps the book on track across all this colorful terrain is Hambly's uncanny ability to constantly show us the connections to our own place and time. January is always recognizable as our representative of strength and morality, even if he seems at times to be carrying unbearable burdens. Few mysteries have as much humanity and history in their list of ingredients. --Dick Adler

From the Back Cover:

"January is without a doubt one of the most distinctive detectives ever put to page."
--The Times-Picayune, New Orleans

"The creole air is thick with a mix of reality, magic....This book revels in atmosphere."
--Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Hambly brings to life a culture so different it might be another world....Fascinating."
--The Denver Post

"January proves [to be] the ideal guide....The keenest observer of the custom of the country."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Emotional authenticity...and rich historical trappings give the novel power and depth."
--Publishers Weekly

An Alternate Selection of the Mystery Guild

Don't miss other Benjamin January novels:

A Free Man of Color:

"Magically rich and poignant."
--Chicago Tribune

Fever Season:

"Superb, exciting, and compelling."
--King Features Syndicate

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