Barbara Hambly, Dead Water Review

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Harriet Klausner's review of Barbara Hambly, Dead Water


“Dead Water ”

Written on: 11/06/2004 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

Dead Water

Barbara Hambly

Bantam, Aug 2004,

ISBN: 0553109642

In 1836 Bank of Louisiana President Hubert Granville wearily and depressingly informs his friend free man of color Benjamin January that his four thousand dollars is gone and the bankrupt firm can only make good with three hundred dollars. Hubert believes that bank manager Oliver Weems stole the specie and note reserves.

Ben learns that the crooked Oliver is leaving town on the steamboat Silver Moon. He and Rose also go on the steamboat hoping to catch Oliver with the loot. Ben acts as a valet to a white friend while Rose goes below, as required, to stay with the other free female blacks and slaves. However, finding the stash proves difficult when someone tosses Weems into the Mississippi while the Underground Railroad works a watery route. As Ben gets involved with freeing slaves, battling with a so-called abolitionist, and a few other major sidebars, he has little time to concentrate on learning who killed weasel Weems and what happened to the money.

Few writers can provide as picturesque and complete look at life in pre Civil War New Orleans than Barbara Hambly does. Her latest tale DEAD WATER furbishes her usual full plate of historical tidbits entwined into a fabulous mystery. Besides the voodoo and the Twain like Mississippi descriptions, just the water route of the Underground Railroad will surprise readers into a slight paradigm though a river route seems so obvious. The crime elements hook the audience and Ben remains a wonderful protagonist so that combined with the enhanced setting fans receive a marvelous historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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