House of the Patriarch

Barbara Hambly. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8990-4
At the start of Hambly’s outstanding 18th Benjamin January mystery (after 2020’s Lady of Perdition), a well-to-do English couple in 1840 hire January, a free Black New Orleans musician with a reputation as a detective, to locate their 17-year-old daughter, Eve Russell, who recently vanished from a steamboat in Long Island Sound. January, who’s also a French trained physician banned from practicing in the prejudiced United States, travels to New York City, where he finds racial hatred more poisonous than in New Orleans. He soon rescues a Black woman and her daughter from molesters, and aids a white man, Phineas T. Barnum, who’s being pursued by moneylenders. The perilous search for Eve leads to an upstate community of religious phonies, who prey on credulous farmers and escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad to reach Canada, among others. Hambly’s masterful historical detail, scrupulous character portrayal, and psychological analysis of human frailties contribute handsomely to her storytelling. This long-running series shows no signs of losing steam. Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/16/2020
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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