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Wet Grave    by Barbara Hambly order for
Wet Grave
by Barbara Hambly
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

When January is summoned to view a dead body, the corpse of Hesione LeGros brings back memories of his youth and of the pert and spirited young woman, who was the placée of one of smuggler Jean Lafitte's men. Angered at the disinterest of the authorities in the case, Ben investigates himself and so is embroiled in a conspiracy involving gun runners, a slave revolt, pirates, buried treasure, and even a close encounter with an alligator. Ben feels that Hesione is 'owed some little justice for that lost beauty, for that abandoned life.'

Wet Grave is one of the best yet in this series, whose fans will enjoy its development of several sub-plots in the lives of Ben, his friends and family. January is frustrated by the mutual poverty that prevents him from proposing to Rose, and also by the barrier that her past rape has created between them. This barrier comes down, but at the high cost of the life of a dear friend 'full of promise'. This friend's murder propels Rose, as well as Benjamin, into a perilous pursuit of the killers.

Ben's sister Dominique is eight months pregnant with Henri's child, while he is making an arranged marriage to cold-hearted young heiress Chloe. Despite this, Dominique risks her brother, herself and her child when she fears for Henri's safety. Abishag Shaw is involved in this episode also, pursuing a dogged investigation of a planter's murder that eventually intersects with January's adventures. And, finally, Rose acts as a full partner with Benjamin, sharing the same risks and the same reward.

If you're already a fan, don't miss Wet Grave, which offers romance, mystery, adventure and quite a few surprises in a rich historical context. If you haven't read any others, it's a wonderful series, which I highly recommend; and apparently the seventh episode, Feast Among the Bones, is already in progress.

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