cover image Murder in July: A Benjamin January Novel

Murder in July: A Benjamin January Novel

Barbara Hambly. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8740-5

Set in New Orleans in 1839, Hambly’s fascinating 15th Benjamin January novel (after 2016’s Drinking Gourd) finds the freed slave and Paris-trained doctor and his pregnant wife, Rose, planning to open a school to educate “colored girls.” On a sweltering July day, Sir John Oldmixton of the British Consulate, who’s well acquainted with January’s intelligence and discretion, asks him to recover some documents that were in the possession of Henry Brooke, an Englishman who was recently discovered shot to death and floating in a canal. January’s first impulse is to refuse, but when Jacquette Filoux, a black woman who had been Brooke’s mistress, is accused of the crime, he decides to investigate. That Jacquette’s young daughter openly declares that her mother shot Mr. Brooke complicates January’s task. As he digs deeper, he uncovers parallels between Brooke’s murder and one that occurred when he was in Paris a decade before. This well-researched mystery offers readers an appealing cast of characters, a suitably complex plot, and some eye-opening historical details. Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary. (Dec.)