Sold Down the River by Barbara Hambly
(Benjamin January, Book 4)

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Synopsis

In A Free Man of Color, Fever Season, and Graveyard Dust, Benjamin January penetrated the murkiest corners of glittering old New Orleans to bring murderers to justice. Now, in bestselling author Barbara Hambly's haunting new novel, he explores a vivid and violent plantation world darker than anything in the city....  Sold Down the River.

The crisp autumn air of 1834 awakens the French Town to a new season of balls and operas.  But this November there will be no waltzes played by Benjamin January, no piano lessons for Creole children.  For a shadow has emerged from his past-Simon Fourchet, the savage man to whom he was bound in slavery until the age of seven.  When someone he cannot refuse asks the favor, Benjamin reluctantly agrees to reenter the realm of his childhood on Fourchet's upriver sugar plantation.

Abandoning his Parisian French for the African patois of a field hand, Benjamin sets out to uncover who and what lies behind the sinister happenings there.  On All Souls' night, at the dark of the moon, a fire was started in the mill.  A field gang's food has been poisoned and the butler murdered.  And voodoo curse marks appear everywhere.  If the villain cannot be discovered, every slave on Mon Triomphe will be condemned to what passes for justice.

Cutting cane from dawn to nightfall, until his bones ache and his musician's hands bleed, Benjamin strives to unlock the riddle.  Are these the omens of a slave revolt, or something more personal?  As acts of sabotage mount and voodoo signs multiply, he ponders the family in the big house:  Fourchet's pale and pious new wife, his two grown sons, and his shrewish daughter-in-law.  Then the inhabitants of the slave quarters: a proud and secretive cook, young lovers torn apart by a brutal overseer, men and women who long for loved ones sold away.  And what of the neighboring planter, feuding with Fourchet over a piece of land...  or the elusive river trader who knows so many of the servants' secrets?

Somewhere in the warp and weft of these people's lives lurks Benjamin's quarry-whose scheming could destroy not just Fourchet but all his kin and every human being he owns. And Benjamin January must use all his intelligence and cunning to find the killer, before he finds himself...  Sold Down the River.


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 January 26, 2011 by Bantam. 432 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sold Down the River

Kirkus Reviews

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Now, 35 years later, January's former owner, the brutal Simon Fourchet, wants him to spy on the slaves at his other plantation, Mon Triomphe, to discover who’s sabotaging the sugar-cane harvest, wrecking the mill, leaving ominous hoodoo messages on the walls, and fomenting a rebellion that could ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The darkest time in American history comes alive in Hambley's unforgettable series of mysteries, of which this is the fourth, after Graveyard Dust. In 1835 New Orleans, Benjamin January is a Paris-edu

Jul 03 2000 | Read Full Review of Sold Down the River (Benjamin...

Publishers Weekly

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Already, ""les blankittes"" (the whites) believe a slave revolt is brewing on the plantation, and their punishment of the slaves will surely be terrible if more incidents occur.

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Book Reporter

SOLD DOWN THE RIVER, the fourth of the Benjamin January novels (after A FREE MAN OF COLOR, FEVER SEASON, and GRAVEYARD DUST) begins with January's past as a slave coming back to haunt him when he finds Simon Fourchet, his former master, in his mother's parlor.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Sold Down the River (Benjamin...

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