"Insightful historical mystery"
In 1835 New Orleans, Olympia Snakebones sends for her
brother Benjamin January to come to the poorer side of town
because someone killed a free colored lady, Hesione
LeGros. The victim was stabbed to death with the culprit
obviously searching her shack for something, but it was not
for financial reasons. The killer never robbed Hesione or
took the money in her possession.
The city guards fail to arrive to investigate the homicide
as they are busy with the murder of a white plus blacks
receive "leftover" justice in the same way slaves receive
food scraps. Refusing to ignore the crime, Benjamin
accompanied by his beloved Rose Vitric begins making
inquiries into the brutal death of an old woman.
The January historical mysteries are some of the best
nineteenth century tales on the market regardless of
genre. The story line vividly brings New Orleans with its
caste society to life so that the reader feels as if they
are visiting the locale. The who-done-it is cleverly
designed to further bring out the era and the hero. Fans
of historical tales, especially mysteries will want to read
WET GRAVE and the previous January novels that Barbara
Hambly has written because these are insightfully top
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted June 10, 2002
In such stunning novels of crime and character as Die Upon
a Kiss, Sold Down the River, and A Free Man of Color,
Benjamin January tracked down killers through the sensuous,
atmospheric, dangerously beautiful world of Old New
Orleans. Now, in this new novel by bestselling author
Barbara Hambly, he follows a trail of murder from illicit
back alleys to glittering mansions to a dark place where
the oldest and deadliest secrets lie buried . . .
It's 1835 and the relentless glare of the late July sun has
slowed New Orleans to a standstill. When Hesione LeGros--
once a corsair's jeweled mistress, now a raddled hag--is
found slashed to death in a shanty on the fringe of New
Orleans's most lawless quarter, there are few to care. But
one of them is Benjamin January, musician and teacher. He
well recalls her blazing ebony beauty when she appeared,
exquisitely gowned and handy with a stiletto, at a
demimonde banquet years ago.
Who would want to kill this woman now--Hessy, they said,
would turn a trick for a bottle of rum--had some
quarrelsome "customer" decided to do away with her? Or
could it be one of the sexual predators who roamed the dark
and seedy streets? Or--as Benjamin comes to suspect--was
her killer someone she knew, someone whose careful search
of her shack suggests a cold-blooded crime? Someone whose
boot left a chillingly distinctive print . . .
His inquiries at taverns, markets, and slave dances reveal
little about "Hellfire Hessy" since her glory days in
Barataria Bay, once the lair of gentlemen pirates. Then the
murder is swept from his mind by the delivery of a crate
filled with contraband rifles--and yet another telltale
boot print left by its claimant. When a murder swiftly
follows, Ben and Rose Vitrac, the woman he loves, fear the
workings of a serpentine mind and a treacherous plot: one
only they can hope to thwart in time.
All too soon they are fugitives of color in the stormy
bayous and marshes of slave-stealer country, headed for
smugglers' haunts and sinister plantations, where one false
step could be their last toward a...Wet Grave.