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A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly

A Free Man of Color (1997)

by Barbara Hambly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Benjamin January (1)

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6812314,027 (3.9)2 / 141

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
2015 Reading Challenge: A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
Story was a little draggy and not really my cup of tea, but it was a good plot, good main character and interesting look at the 1830's in New Orleans and the ridiculous caste system in place which depended on how much white blood a person had. ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 10, 2014 |
Benjamin January is a free man, of color, in the 1930's. He has been in France, completed a medical degree, and is an accomplished musician. Therefore, it is quite a shock for him when he returns to his native New Orleans and the changes in attitude which have occurred in the twenty years he has been away. In spite of his education, he must earn his living as a music tutor and a piano player. When he is present at a ball where a prominent woman of questionable repute is murdered, and it becomes apparent that he was the last person known to see her alive, he realizes just how precarious his freedom and respect is. Now he must unearth the true killer and hope it isn't a white man to keep his own head out of a noose.

This book is a good mystery, the clues were there for the reader, but one had to work for them. The distractions and red herrings were well done. I am glad to have read this, because it is informative of a time and place and culture which is very foreign to me. However, it did feel like a bit of a slog. There was so much information which needed to be conveyed so the reader would be able to have even a glimpse into that time, place and the people there. I found it all so, so dark, looking into the morass of the human heart. That desire which is always present to find someone who is weaker than yourself to put down. It is very ugly, and overwhelmed me to the point that the story was painful. So, I can't say I enjoyed this book. I will say that it seems well researched and is well written, the story and characters are well drawn, and I would recommend it to anyone who didn't already struggle with depression over the human condition. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Mar 16, 2014 |
This book is the first in the Benjamin January series. It is a historical mystery set in 19th-Century New Orleans.

When a beautiful, but viscious octoroon is murdered, January, a free black piano player/surgeon is the primary suspect, and when officials don't seem much interested in clearing him, he investigates the murdser on his own. He also covers for a pretty, young widow who was a former piano student, sticking his neck out and putting his own life at risk. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Sep 28, 2013 |
Meh. Meh. Meh. I really thought I would like this book; but turns out I just about hated it. The writing is excellent; but I don't like the setting or the characters. I may try this as an audiobook. ( )
  lesmel | May 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Hamblyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Seder, JasonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Had Cardinal Richelieu not assaulted the Mohican Princess, thrusting her up against the brick wall of the carriageway and forcing her mouth with his kisses, Benjamin January probably wouldn't have noticed anything amiss later on.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553575260, Mass Market Paperback)

In Barbara Hambly's rich and poignant thriller, it's 1833 and Ben January--a man of mixed blood making his living as a musician because he's not allowed to practice surgery--is back home in New Orleans after years of freedom in Paris. Trying to walk a caste line more complicated than India's, January risks his precarious position to investigate the killing of a young woman who--like his own younger, lighter half-sister--is the mistress of a wealthy white man. What has changed most in New Orleans while Ben was away is the influence of the white Americans: rough, ignorant, instinctively racist. Only one of these--a policeman named Abishag Shaw--seems to understand that January is at least as smart and valuable as he is, and even he at times appears to be ready to side with the white majority and pin the crime on Ben.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"A romantic suspense novel set in 19th century New Orleans. 'Benjamin January, a free Creole with dark brown skin, has returned to this society after living in Paris for more than a decde. He is trained as a surgeon, but in Louisiana, he makes his living playing the piano. Soon he is the main suspect in the death of a wealthy man's young mistress, found murdered at a ball. January spends the rest of the book gathering evidence in his defense.'" Libr J. "A few suspenseful moments not-withstanding, this isn't an action-packed or suspenseful whodunit. Rather, it's a richly detailed, telling portrait of an intricately structured racial hierarchy." Booklist.… (more)

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