Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January/Janvier Mysteries

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Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January/Janvier Mysteries

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1marcinyc
Ago 4, 2006, 9:33 am

Anyone else read these books set in a pre-Civil War New Orleans?

I thoroughly enjoyed A Free Man of Color and the next couple in the series but his a brick wall with Die Upon a Kiss. For the life of me, I could not get into that book and chucked it aside. Although I know there are at least three more in the series, the last two being set in Mexico if I'm remembering correctly, I haven't pressed on.

(Sheesh... I seem to be kvetching a lot about books which I don't like here. I really do enjoy historical mysteries -- honest!)

2Only2rs
Ago 5, 2006, 12:56 pm

I came across these when I was in the States a couple of years ago. I have Sold Down the River and Fever Season. They were quite good, but I felt they would quickly get a bit samey, so I haven't felt like trying to get the others.

3jillmwo
Ago 9, 2006, 4:03 pm

I used A Free Man of Color as the lead off book in a discussion series with the theme of gossip. Given how much Benjamin grumbles inwardly about how much all of the women know about his situation, it seemed appropriate.

The Steven Saylor books are good as Roman historicals. I enjoyed the early historicals by Candace Robb -- specifically The Apothecary Rose and The Lady Chapel.

4FicusFan
Dez 24, 2006, 4:21 pm


I am reading the Benjamin January mysteries by Barbara Hambly. I really love them.

The books in series order are:

A Free Man of Color
Fever Season
Graveyard Dust
Sold Down the River
Die Upon a Kiss
Wet Grave
Days of the Dead
Dead Water

There is probably another one out in HC, but I don't buy them until they go into paper.

I also like her 2 vampire books: Those who Hunt the Night and Traveling with the Dead. I haven't really read much of her other fantasy or SF books.

In terms of the premise of free blacks in pre-civil war New Orleans there is also an Anne Rice historical fiction book called The Feast of All Saints which is very good.

5steffijohnson
Mar 6, 2007, 10:42 am

I'm a New Orleans fan, and loved this series. I agree they are much the same theme, but each focuses on a different aspect of BJ life: music, freemanhood, doctor, etc.

6bibliotheque
Set 6, 2007, 3:31 am

I've just finished Die Upon A Kiss - I see exactly where you're coming from marcinyc, it's definitely too long and intricate and could have benefited from a sympathetic editor! Nonetheless, I admired the writing style, her choice of villains (didn't see the ending coming!) and the historical insights. The Italians being imprisoned because they "look octoroon" and might therefore be escaped slaves was a particularly nice touch!

It's the first Hambly I've tried, so if the others are easier to read I'm definitely up for more of this series.

7NGenge
Set 20, 2014, 8:35 pm

Very much enjoyed this series - have them all! Nicely put together as both mysteries and historical novels. Good stuff.

8orsolina
Set 20, 2014, 10:21 pm

I've read all of them and found them all excellent. Since Hambly is dealing with such appalling oppression, it's sometimes hard for my eyes to read the words on the page--I put off reading them for years because I knew that the setting would be so hard to take.
I don't think they all deal with the same theme at all!
But Die upon a Kiss was hard to follow; I always have trouble following stories in which espionage plays a part.

9Blu_Beri
Jan 25, 2016, 9:28 pm

I love these books. I find them fascinating and disturbing, she doesnt whitewash slavery. Also makes me think of Jefferson and Sally Hemmings son who left France and came back to slavery. He comitted suicide.