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Fever Season (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553575279, Mass Market Paperback)In New Orleans in 1833, appearance is everything for people of color. "His own coat and waistcoat ... were one badge of his freedom," Barbara Hambly writes about Ben January, a surgeon and teacher of music. "Even more than the papers the law demanded he carry--and as much as the well-bred French his tutors and his mother had hammered into him as a child--they said, This is a free man of color, not somebody's property to be bought and sold." When the veteran science fiction writer Hambly first introduced January, in the stunning and heartbreaking A Free Man of Color, the only problem seemed to be that the book told us so much about a vanished world that it couldn't possibly support a sequel. Fortunately, Hambly has found a way to make it work by putting January into a real crime, the case of a woman named Delphine Lalaurie whose savagery toward her slaves managed to shock even her contemporaries. "She was a tall woman, imperially straight; and though nearly every Creole woman of her age had surrendered to rich food and embonpoint, she retained the slim figure of a girl," Hambly writes of the majestic Delphine on her first meeting with January. She has come to the reeking, corpse-clogged hospital where January is working during a cholera epidemic to warn him about helping a runaway slave girl accused of murder. Ignoring that warning puts January into a situation so full of danger to himself and others that in lesser hands it could easily have become overwrought. Hambly, however, knows better than anyone that readers connect to characters rooted in honesty, regardless of how alien their environment may seem to us. --Dick Adler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:05 -0400)
The summer of 1833 has been one of brazen heat and brutal pestilence, as the city is stalked by Bronze John - the popular name for the deadly cholera epidemic that tests the healing skills of doctor and voodoo alike. Benjamin January's Paris medical training keeps him all night long with the dying at Charity Hospital. Then his work as a music teacher takes him out again into the fetid, empty midday streets. Empty except for Cora Chouteau, a dark-skinned plantation waif come to town in search of her lover, sold in slavery to one of its prominent families. Though January's certain she's a runaway, he agrees to try to pass a message to the man she seeks. Soon, however, he learns that Cora is accused of murdering her lecherous master, Otis Redfern, and poisoning his wife almost to death. Yet it seems that Emily Redfern herself, iron-willed and socially ambitious, had cause to wish her profligate husband dead. And Cora, too - or so the girl insists.Before Ben can unpick one story from the other, Cora disappears into the torrid night. Risking both his life and his freedom, Ben pursues the truth through a lush and fevered world of opulent town houses, grim cemeteries, and raucous taverns.
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