Why this book?
Benjamin January is a rarity in New Orleans 1830s; a free Black man. He is free because his mother is a place, the mistress of a wealthy white planter. Ben is educated and smart, but the casual racism of the times means he makes a living as a musician instead of a surgeon.
Despite his papers, he is always afraid of being kidnapped and sold into slavery, and that fear casts a shadow over his life.
When a beautiful quadroon is murdered, and no one cares, Ben’s sense of justice inspires him to investigate, despite risking his own freedom.
I love the exotic setting and reread every few years. I marvel at the way Hambly threads the mystery through this unusual culture.
A Free Man of Color
Why should I read it?
3 authors picked A Free Man of Color as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.
What is this book about?
This lush and haunting novel tells of a city steeped in decadent pleasures and of a man, proud and defiant, caught in a web of murder and betrayal.
It is 1833. In the midst of Mardi Gras, Benjamin January, a Creole physician and music teacher, is playing piano at the Salle d'Orléans when the evening's festivities are interrupted--by murder.
The ravishing Angelique Crozat, a notorious octoroon who travels in the city's finest company, has been strangled to death. With the authorities reluctant to become involved, Ben begins his own inquiry, which will take him through the seamy haunts of riverboatmen…