Bestselling author Barbara Hambly's A Free Man of Color and Fever Season established Benjamin January as a man to be reckoned withand 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 sistermystical, rebellious Olympehas 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 hangedand how he can vindicate her and Célie before a jury is rushed tojudgement. 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.
Graveyard Dust is a sumptuous read, full of the colorful sights and sounds of 19th-century New Orleans. Hambly has researched the era well, and the reader is treated to a journey back in time as well as a first-rate mystery.