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Lady of Perdition; A Benjamin January Mystery    by Barbara Hambly order for
Lady of Perdition
by Barbara Hambly
Order:  USA  Can
Severn House, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lady of Perdition is the seventeenth in Hambly's brilliant historical New Orleans series that started with A Free Man of Color. I enjoyed the first few books very much and then lost touch with the series - lots of catching up to do!

Series lead is Benjamin January, a physician, musician and ex-slave. Ben was brought up on a plantation and freed after his mother was sold to St-Denis Janvier, who had him educated. He trained as a surgeon in France, and lived there for sixteen years. He returned to New Orleans after the death of his Berber wife. While the city was dangerous to any man of color, especially one as dark as January, he had family there.

At this stage in the series, Ben is married again to Rose, a schoolteacher who shares his love of books. They have children and run a school together. But this episode, that opens in April, 1840, takes Benjamin out of the city and into extreme danger in Texas, the 'Slaveholders' Republic'. A con man, has charmed his former pupil Selina Bellinger, who ran off with him - to be sold into slavery in Texas.

As always, Ben is accompanied in his adventure by his consumptive fellow musician and friend Hannibal Sefton (whose slave he pretends to be), and rough Yankee policeman Abishag Shaw. After many trials and tribulations (especially for Ben) they do manage to rescue a now repentant Selina. To do this, they have the help of Valentina Taggart, wife of the wealthy landowner of Rancho Perdition.

So when Valentina is accused of the murder of her husband, Benjamin feels that he owes it to her to stay and identify the true killer, while Shaw returns Selina to New Orleans. More deaths follow, more close calls, but, as always, Ben survives to fight another day - and I look forward to reading about it!

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