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Die upon a kiss
Barbara Hambly
Adult Fiction HAMBLY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The opening in New Orleans in 1835 of a new opera company propels Hambly's fifth atmospheric historical mystery (after 2000's Sold Down the River) featuring freed slave Benjamin January. As with the other entries in this popular series, the background is a hook on which Hambly hangs her main theme the conflicts of a society based on race, sex and class. A widowed, European-trained surgeon who makes his living as a piano player and teacher, January is in the orchestra of an Italian opera company backed by the "Americans" who are moving south into New Orleans and threatening the power of the Creoles those of French and Spanish heritage in a city still French three decades after the Louisiana Purchase. When two members of the company are attacked and a backer murdered, January and his colleague, the erudite, consumptive, white violinist Hannibal Sefton, help their friend Abishag Shaw, the wily Kentuckian of the New Orleans City Guards, to investigate. The Benjamin January series is well worth reading for the depth and richness of the author's historical research and her exquisite evocation of the Byzantine class structure, exotic culture and menacing politics of antebellum New Orleans. In an afterword, Hambly describes early 19th-century opera as "grandiose, overblown, politically hot, sometimes silly but enormous fun." Unfortunately, this could also describe this book, which is crowded with so many red herrings, subplots and characters that the reader often needs a program to keep track. (June 26) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Hambly's sure touch enlivens New Orleans in 1835, where carnival celebrations mask assault and murder revolving around the production of the city's first Italian opera. In a place obsessively conscious of such categories as Creole, slave, American, free black, "foreigner," and the various mixtures thereof, the debut of the opera Othello with its racially explosive subject matter apparently arouses enough resentment to cause danger for the opera company and Benjamin January, the free black surgeon and sometime sleuth (A Free Man of Color) who plays piano there. Marvelous description, historical details, memorable characters, priceless dialog, and intricate plotting make this an indispensable purchase for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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