cover image Cold Bayou

Cold Bayou

Barbara Hambly. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8798-6

Hambly’s solid 16th Benjamin January mystery (after 2017’s Murder in July) takes the freed slave and surgeon, in the summer of 1839, from New Orleans to Cold Bayou plantation, where he’s agreed to play the piano at the wedding of 67-year-old Veryl St.-Chinian, despite some ominous dreams he has experienced—and warnings from his voodoo savvy sister, Olympia, who tells him, “I see blood, brother.” Most of the guests disapprove of 18-year-old Ellie Trask, St.-Chinian’s illiterate fiancée with a scandalous past. After someone vandalizes the wedding dress and the minister goes missing, a worse tragedy further threatens the wedding—the slashing murder of Ellie’s shrewd maid, Valla. January investigates, suffering such travails as a foot injury, a violent flood, and a threat on his life in the process. Readers will learn a lot about the unique culture of antebellum Louisiana, such as clothing fashions, but some will be frustrated by descriptive passages that too often slow the narrative’s momentum. [em]Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary. (Sept.) [/em]