Die Upon a Kiss by Barbara Hambly

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In A Free Man of Color and Sold Down the River, Benjamin January guided readers through the seductive maze of New Orleans' darkest quarters. Now January joins the orchestra of the city's top opera house — only to become enmeshed in a web of hate and greed more murderous than any drama onstage.

In 1835, the cold February streets glitter with masked revelers in Carnival costumes. An even more brilliant display is promised at the American Theater, where impresario Lorenzo Belaggio has brought the first Italian opera to town. But it's pitch-black in the muddy alley outside the stage door when Benjamin January, coming from rehearsal with the orchestra, hears a slurred whisper, sees the flash of a knife, and is himself wounded as he rescues Belaggio from a vicious attack.

The bombastic impresario first accuses two of his tenors, then suspects his rival, the manager of New Orleans' other opera company. Could competition for audiences really provoke such violent skulduggery? Or has Belaggio taken too many chances in the catfight between two sopranos, one superseded by the other as his mistress and his prima donna?

But burning in January's mind and heart is a darker possibility. The opera Belaggio plans to present — a magnificent version of Othello — strikes a shocking chord in this culture. Is the murderous tragedy of the noble Moor and his lady, the spectacle of a black man's passion for a white beauty, one that some Creole citizen — or American parvenu — would do anything to keep off the stage?

Bloody threats and voodoo signs, poison and brutal murder seem to implicate many strange bedfellows. And Benjamin must discover who — in rage, retribution, or an insidious new commerce in this beautiful cutthroat city — will kill and kill ... and who will Die Upon a Kiss.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Barbara Hambly

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Barbara Hambly is the author of Patriot Hearts and The Emancipator's Wife, a finalist for the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. She is also the author of Fever Season, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the acclaimed historical Benjamin January series, including the novels A Free Man of Color and Sold Down the River. She lives in California.
Published December 18, 2007 by Bantam. 480 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Die Upon a Kiss

Publishers Weekly

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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.

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Book Reporter

Hambly, at the same time, is able to very nimbly introduce enough of the backstory from previous January novels into each new one so that readers new to the series will not feel lost and adrift but will rather be encouraged not only to read the new novel but also to pick up on what has gone before.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Die Upon a Kiss

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All About Romance

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Barbara Hambly’s first mystery set in antebellum New Orleans, A Free Man of Color, has a prominent place on my keeper shelf.

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