cover image Crimson Angel: A Benjamin January Novel

Crimson Angel: A Benjamin January Novel

Barbara Hambly. Severn, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8427-5

Set in the summer of 1838, Hambly’s scalding 13th Benjamin January novel (after 2013’s Good Man Friday) takes the freed slave and Paris-trained surgeon to Cuba and Haiti, along with his beloved wife, Rose, and his white fiddler friend, Hannibal Sefton. The trip is prompted by Rose’s white half-brother, Jefferson Vitrack, who appears at their New Orleans home with a mysterious tale of buried family treasure. At first, January refuses to consider pursuing the treasure, which could fund the return of thousands of slaves to Africa. But after Vitrack is murdered and Rose is attacked, January realizes that he must unravel the secret behind his brother-in-law’s story. Members of January’s extended family were employed by the Caribbean sugar industry, which worked thousands of malnourished black slaves to death in an average of three years each. Hambly reveals the horrors of this grim chapter of history through understated glimpses into the mind of her hero, whose silent comment on the ferocious slave uprising that established Haiti as a black republic in 1804 sums up his attitude toward the white oppressors: “They had it coming.” Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary Agency. (Dec.)