DEAD AND BURIED, by Barbara Hambly

9/Benjamin January series set in pre-Civil War New Orleans. As this series progresses, it only gets better. It also gets more graphic about slavery and the American attitudes toward it; "passing" for white is a central theme here. In this story, a pallbearer slips, a coffin crashes into a brick tomb, and the corpse is revealed as a white man, not as the free man of color it's supposed to be. Hannibal Sefton, January's close but usually-not-sober friend, recognizes the victim, and so begins a hair-raising race to save the life of a young man willing to be hung rather than tell the truth. Click below for more...
Sefton, a dissolute but charming violin-player and opium addict, takes center stage in this tale, and much about his background is revealed (after eight books? what discipline the author has!) The charming and indomitable Rose, January's wife, proves to be every bit as brave and resourceful as her husband. January, free black, son of slaves, Paris-trained physician, is a compelling character. Overall, hair-raising and heart-breaking; it's a 5.
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