Lady of Perdition

Barbara Hambly. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8909-6
Set in 1840, Hambly’s deeply researched 17th Benjamin January mystery (after 2018’s Cold Bayou) takes free black man January and his consumptive musician friend, Hannibal Sefton, from New Orleans to the Republic of Texas, where animosity is seething between nationalists who want Texas to remain independent and those who favor joining the United States. January’s dedication to helping black people obtain justice leads him to try to rescue Selina Bellinger, a young mulatto woman from New Orleans. Selina’s lover duped her into eloping with him to Texas, where she was raped and trafficked. The stakes rise after the scheming Valentina Taggart, who helps January and Sefton in the Selina matter, is accused of murdering her wealthy rancher husband. When January and Sefton investigate, they’re plunged into the Taggart family’s “poisoned mess of drunken violence.” Risking himself in a country where killing a slave is not considered murder, January can’t resist saving helpless women from casual male brutality. Hambly’s well-wrought denunciation of slavery and her skillful defense of women’s rights resound from January’s times to our own. Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/09/2019
Release date: 01/01/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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