Read Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly Online


Bestselling author Barbara Hambly's A Free Man of Color and Fever Season established Benjamin January as one of mystery's most exciting heroes. Now he returns in a powerful new novel, a sensual mosaic of old New Orleans, where cultures clash and murder can hover around every darkened corner....It is St. John's Eve in the summer of 1834 when Benjamin January--Creole physiciBestselling author Barbara Hambly's A Free Man of Color and Fever Season established Benjamin January as one of mystery's most exciting heroes. Now he returns in a powerful new novel, a sensual mosaic of old New Orleans, where cultures clash and murder can hover around every darkened corner....It is St. John's Eve in the summer of 1834 when Benjamin January--Creole physician and music teacher--is shattered by the news that his sister has been arrested for murder. The Guards have only a shadow of a case against her. But Olympe--mystical and rebellious--is a woman of color, whose chance for justice is slim.As Benjamin probes the allegation, he is targeted by a new threat: graveyard dust sprinkled at his door, whispering of a voodoo death curse. Now, to save Olympe's life--and his own--Benjamin knows he must glean information wherever he can find it. For in the heavy darkness of New Orleans, the truth is what you make it, and justice can disappear with the night's warm breeze as easy as graveyard dust.......

Title : Graveyard Dust
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553575286
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 409 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Graveyard Dust Reviews

  • Dagny
    2019-04-15 17:35

    Another superb read by Barbara Hambly. In addition to the expected mystery and suspense, Graveyard Dust explores a portion of the Voodoo heritage of New Orleans. With her background and study as an historian, Hambly is able to evoke the ambience of New Orleans in the 1830s and the role Voodoo played in the lives of some of its residents.

  • Rachel Brown
    2019-04-03 18:27

    Benjamin January # 3! This one was way less grim than Fever Season. I realize that's easy to say, so I will give it an independent grimness rating.Grimness of content: Medium. Racism and other isms, slavery, murder; child abuse is discussed but not shown.Grimness of tone: Low. The subtitle is "a novel of suspense" and that accurately describes the tone. It's a very atmospheric mystery with some excellent action and really great characters. I loved everyone in this book, except for the villains and racists, obviously. Also, it contains a number of fun tropes, including hurt-comfort, creepy pottery, courtroom drama, spirit possession, and dodging alligators in the bayou. Plus Marie Laveau. The plot is very well-constructed and entertaining. And there's some very funny banter, plus a number of dramatic, alarming, and/or hilarious courtroom scenes. Benjamin January is a devout Catholic and regularly prays for the soul of his sister Olympe, a voodoo practitioner. When Olympe is railroaded into jail for poisoning a man, mostly due to prejudice against voodoo, Ben gets on the case. I really enjoyed the portrayal of voodoo. Hambly has an afterword discussing her research (she's a historian) and interviews with current practitioners where she gives a sense of how varied the practice and history is-- as is the case in any religion. From Ben's outsider/insider perspective, it's simultaneously alien and disturbing, familiar and enticing. It was a great way to convey how any religion is sustaining and ordinary for its followers, and exotic and weird to outsiders who don't understand it. Marie Laveau is one of my favorite characters in the series, and she naturally has a big part in this. For the first time, supernatural forces appear as a (possibly) real force. The vivid scenes of spirit possession can be interpreted as simply the power of belief, but they make more sense if the Loa are objectively real. I liked the delicate balance of deniability at play through the whole book. Since my favorite thing about this series is the characters, I'll do a check-in. Augustus Mayerling, the sword master who was one of my favorites from the first book, re-appears. Poor Hannibal is so sick with consumption that it was a relief to know while reading that he's still alive ten books later-- he spends most of the book either in bed or helping Ben with various tasks while trying not to pass out. (Rose makes some satisfying appearances, though I wish she was in the story more. Ben's awful mother Livia is still hilariously, deliciously catty. Olympe and her family have nice big roles-- I really like her, her husband, and her son Gabriel. And Ben has a really satisfying character arc.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-04-14 17:27

    I continue to enjoy this mystery series, set in New Orleans in the early 1800's. I love Hambly's atmospheric prose, and even her outrageous endings are growing on me. Although to my relief, this ending, while dark, isn't as gruesome as that of the previous book - I was afraid she was going to try to top it.Benjamin January is a devout Catholic, and so disapproves of his sister's practice of voodoo, but he comes to her aid when she's accused of selling poison to a woman for the purpose of murdering her husband.I suspect this third entry in the series wouldn't make a good standalone novel, which suits me well enough. I realize that there's a delicate balance between annoying familiar readers and alienating new ones, but I read so many series where the author spends 50 pages of every book rehashing the events of earlier books, so it was a pleasure to have familiar characters and a minimum of repetition. I'm looking forward to the next book.

  • Kim
    2019-04-14 15:26

    New Orleans in the 1830s is complicated and nuanced, and Benjamin January lives at the intersections of converging and competing cultures, none of which is as simple as white and black. This 3rd book in the series delves into the world of voodoo, described in the Author's Note as "a complex interlocking of ancestor worship, reverence for the spirits of nature, and an overarching belief in a single deity who works through the various spirits - the loa or lwa - to aid humankind. The thousands of men and women who were kidnapped and enslaved by their tribal enemies, and sold to the white, carried with them only what they had in their minds and in their hearts: skill at their trades, love of family, a rich heritage of music, and stories of animals and spirits." (The Author's Note is as fascinating, if much, much shorter, as the story.)Hambly's characters are multifaceted and convey the complexity of human nature throughout, and her portrait of Voodooienne Marie Laveau is particularly intriguing. "He understood then how she came to know everything, to fit all things together in a great mosaic of intelligence. She listened, and she remembered, and she cared."I also particularly appreciated the irony in a courtroom scene where lawyers argue over whether the case will be heard in English or French (the French New Orleans now a part of the United Stated): "'We true citizens of the City of New Orleans,' retorted Vilhardouin, in French, 'were sold to the United States against our will and without being consulted in the matter --' 'Welcome to our ranks,' muttered January dourly."

  • MonstrouslyTasty
    2019-04-05 21:23

    This third entry in the atmospheric series finds free-man-of-color Benjamin January scrambling to clear his voodooienne sister Olympe from a charge of murder. When nineteen-year-old Isaak goes missing, it isn't long before his opium-addict brother turns up with a fantastic tale of kidnapping and poison -- but no body. The setting is 1830's New Orleans in the summer, and the city is stewing in its own juices; lack of a sewage system and copious mosquitoes (thanks to the city's humid, swampy location)ensure that sicknesses like cholera and yellow fever are ever-present threats. Benjamin January has been back in New Orleans for less than two years, following the death of his wife in Paris. He's a surgeon by training, a musician by inclination -- and the reluctance of creole society to accept of physician who's skin so closely resembles that of the slaves that work the sugar-cane plantations. His efforts to clear his sister's name and free her from prison will bring him into close contact with Voodoo and the beliefs and fears of his childhood. The series seems to hit its stride with this entry, which proceeds seamlessly from start to finish, drawing us along without letting our attention wander. Favorite side-characters from the first two books are present as well, continuing to develop their own stories. Highly recommended.

  • Sharon
    2019-03-29 17:22

    I'm working my way through the entire Benjamin January series; this is the third one.In this book, January's sister, Olympe, stands accused of murder. A free woman of color's husband has disappeared, and the whispers are that Olympe was paid to poison him. Because she's a voodooienne, the populace is willing to believe it despite any evidence to the contrary.January and his unlikely compatriot, American police lieutenant Abishag Shaw, decide that they are going to look deeper into the matter. In the meanwhile, Olympe waits in the jail at the Cabildo ... and more people are dying or disappearing. When Marie Laveau makes it clear that she can assist in the investigation, January knows there is more to it than meets the eye.This series of historical mysteries is quite well-researched, giving the readers a look at Jacksonian-era New Orleans that no other fiction writer I've found has provided. The class distinctions are dealt with frankly, and even the fashion notes are spot-on (like Benjamin January, I think the fashion in ladies' sleeves at the time is horrid).Highly recommended for intelligent, well-developed mysteries and more than a smattering of historical information.

  • Chris
    2019-04-13 19:43

    If you like Star Wars, you need to read the afterword of this mystery. If Fever Season was a weakfish follow up, this book brings the series back. Loved characters return, and there is a remark about a marriage. It’s nice to see the return of Rose and the slow development of a relationship. What is particularly enjoyable and outstanding about this book is January’s family. He and his sister Olympe represent what their mother was as opposed to his half sister who represents at least to his mother’s eyes, what she currently is. Tied up into this family are the effects of racism and slavery as well as being what people do not think you should be. January a doctor who really cannot practice and reverts back to piano playing, his sister who is free or is she, his mother who might be more human than she lets on. Additionally, there is finer detail here, more sure touches than in the second one.

  • Catherine
    2019-04-21 20:41

    Read this while on vacation in New Orleans and found that it added a fascinating level of historical detail to the trip. Well written and intense, with lots of interesting cultural detail - best of the Benjamin January novels that I've read to date. I also appreciate the effort that Hambly makes to create an authentic feel to 1830s New Orleans and the tension between the Americans and the French as well as enslaved people of African descent, freedmen and freemen.Recommended.

  • Bonnie
    2019-04-10 21:47

    Another series I'm hooked on. This is the third, though I haven't read the first two. Set in New Orleans of the mid-1800s, an era and area I know little about, I loved how much I learned. The atmosphere is rather spooky, since the life of the free blacks was a precarious one, plus there's a fair amount of voodoo taking place. This was a very riveting book, that was hard to put down.

  • sage
    2019-04-05 21:22

    5 stars for atmosphere, 1 star for plot. Which is to say the five or seven wandering subplots that are supposed to link up don't. Disability tag for "Hollywood" disability, wherein characters with major conditions manage the physically impossible in return for narrative payoff.

  • Jessica Padgett
    2019-04-13 19:50

    After reading the first Benjamin January book I looked into the author's other books and found out there are quite a few sequels. My first thought was to order a handful of them right then and there because I really enjoyed it. After adding a few in my online basket I thought, it is highly likely they will start going downhill at some point considering there are so many... better buy one at a time. This book wasn't bad, I still enjoyed it but wasn't as good as the first three. I grew weary of him talking about how weak he was/how much pain he was in. Yes, what happened to him in the last book was terrible and probably did leave him in pretty bad shape but it was old news pretty early on in the book. Some people don't like the "detectives" being too good so I suppose this helped alleviate that criticism since he no longer had his strength to throw around. I did like the fact it immersed the other side of his family more in this book though. The early books he mostly deals with his mother and youngest sister. This one focused on his other sisters family. I wish the crime was more fleshed out then it was, i finished feeling like i didn't get everything. Despite that, I thought overall, it was a good book. I hope this was only a temporary dip in the overall series and the next one is more like the first three.

  • Linda Nelson
    2019-04-18 18:50

    This is the third book in the series about Benjamin January a free man of color in pre-civil-war New Orleans. January is both a professional pianist and a surgeon. As a pianist, he often plays for the many New Orleans balls each winter/spring. In the summer (fever season), he often tends the sick. His knowledge of the human body and his interest in the social scene serve him well as he tries to solve crimes.In each book, he investigates a crime, which is developed nicely so you don't guess the answer ahead of time. In addition, social situations of that city are described, revealing a world I never really knew about. There are slave owners and slaves, and there are several freed slaves, known as free men/women of color. Because January is very dark-skinned, he is often assumed to be a slave. To protect himself, he keeps multiple copies of his identity paper on his person whenever he goes out. January is the son of a placee, a free woman of color, formerly a slave, who was bought by a gentlemen and freed, thus to become his mistress. This practice is depicted as quite common, and fairly accepted by the society.I have enjoyed all three books and plan to read book four soon.Book one is titled, A Free Man of Color.Book two is, Fever Season.

  • Terri
    2019-04-06 14:51

    I'm knocking this down to four stars this time around because, although the characters are as great as ever, the plot is as confusing as all heck.............................................................Original review:I'm enjoying this series so much that I currently don't want to read anything else.(view spoiler)[I was so pleased that Augustus Meyerling and his wife turned up again, well and happy, as positive trans characters aren't ten a penny, and even less so at the time this book was written. And I continue to have a lot of feelings about Ben and Rose and Hannibal as a found family. I will be devastated when Hannibal finally succumbs to TB, as it seems he must.I am terrible at mystery novels as I find the actual mystery parts of them impossible to follow. I thought I was doing quite well with this one, but the Dr Yellowjack and the Coughlins part of the plot completely lost me until the end. Still, I'm very happy to read this series for the characters, the writing and the setting, and just be a bit baffled about who's doing what to who and why. (hide spoiler)]

  • Booknblues
    2019-04-20 21:48

    Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly is the third in a series about Benjamin January a freeman of 19th century New Orleans who is both a physician and a musician. At the start of the book we find that January's sister Olympe, a voodooienne has been accused of murder of Isaak Jumon. January will have to unravel the mystery of Isaak's death to free his sister.Hambly's New Orleans is a dangerous fog shrouded place. It is fever season again and various voodoo factions are involved in the plot. Some are leaving graveyard dust at January's doorway. Tennessee trappers are trying to murder him as he desperately seeks clues to exonerate his sister.This book does not move as quickly as others in this series. It sometimes bogs down at various twists and turns. It does however add depth and interest in the characters involved. The authors insights and research about the history of New Orleans brings the time and place to life.

  • Janet
    2019-04-21 18:23

    In 1834 New Orleans, a black, classically educated musician and doctor who must save his sister who is accused of a voodoo killing. A fascinating slant on the usual detective novel. Benjamin January must observe all the curfew laws, the white/black conventions, and every other stumbling block placed before him as he tries to sleuth out the details of what really happened. I must admit that, despite some vocabulary at the beginning of the book, I was still at odds with a lot of the terminology. And there was a nice message in the book. Benjamin can't help but be spooked by the gris-gris and chicken feet in his bed when the true killer tries to eliminate him, also, when he gets close to discovering the truth. But then he will go to church and light a candle, say a prayer for his pursuers, as well as his sister, and others in trouble. He's a good man who stays "street smart" but uncorrupted as he tries to show everyone respect and make things right.

  • Tara
    2019-03-22 21:28

    Not my favorite of the series, but still an enjoyable read. As the book was about his older sister being accused of murder, I wish the book would have delved a bit more into her life rather than the voodoo community in general (though that was interesting from an historical standpoint too) and/or the tension between January's "newer" Christian faith and the voodoo rites he learned as a child.I ultimately found the resolution to be a bit of a "huh?" too -- just didn't buy the explanation for why a particular character acted the way she did (and also, thought the series of events that kept another character conveniently out of the way for so long was all just a little bit too contrived).Still, January's a good character, and it's still an interesting series set in a very unusual setting. I will certainly be looking for the next book in this series.

  • Doris
    2019-03-23 14:38

    I find this series fascinating, although I have to wonder if it factually relates the reality that was the slave's life. I do appreciate the attempt to make sure that this horrible episode in history is never repeated, and urge that this be read from that viewpoint if no other.In this story, people are toppling and Ben races to find out why, as a young woman is accused of her husband's murder and a young voodoo priestess languishes in prison on the same charge. One of the fascinating parts of this book was the author's explanation of voodoo during the "Notes" section at the end. Lackey did a great job explaining that the term voodoo and the people who practiced it have varied histories and are not a one-size world. The only down side I had was that the near-mythical Marie Leveau keeps popping up.

  • Janice
    2019-04-04 22:42

    Another satisfying Benjamin January mystery. I'm trying to space these out a bit so they don't run together (and so I can get a good night's sleep now and then instead of staying up too late reading them constantly!). Also, I'll be sad when I've finished the series, so no rush. No point in giving details on this one. If you've read the first two and are thinking of continuing, go for it. I think the third maintains the quality of the writing, the vividness of the time and place, and in general what made the first two work for me, but at the same time I feel like her main character is developing and changing, a pleasant novelty in my experience for an ongoing series. If you haven't read the first two, and if you like mysteries and/or historic fiction, you should!

  • Addison Public Library
    2019-04-19 14:28

    Staff favorite: Karen, Adult ServicesIn this third book in the series, Benjamin January’s sister, Olympe, has been accused of murder. Olympe, a voodoo practitioner, is accused of supplying the poison that killed young Isaak Jumon. Isaak’s wife, Cécile, is also in jail for his murder. January, desperate to save Olympe, plunges into the world of voodoo. He soon finds evidence in his rooms that someone is trying to curse him or kill him. As his life reels out of control, January must approach Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, to help him in his quest. KDCheck out this book today!

  • Mary Helene
    2019-03-31 16:41

    I appreciated Ms. Hambly's sensitive treatment of voodoo, which parallels my own experience of it in Kumasi, Ghana in the late 70s. She did have an error on the Biblical side; it wasn't Gideon, but Joshua, who made the sun stand still. (p.243)I have my favorite bits - the protagonist's slow healing from grief, for one, but pain is described just as well, such as "Or was she still treating her son with frozen politeness tempered by martyered courage?" (p.296)Ms. Hambly says things I want to believe - "Forgiveness is stronger than the graveyard dust of the past" (p.303) One of the reasons I read novels is to see this demonstrated, because it's so hard to believe.

  • Cindy
    2019-04-16 14:34

    Benjamin Janvier's sister Olympe has been arrested for murder. She's been accused of using voodoo to kill the husband of a young woman who stands to inherit a nice estate, if she's not hung first. Benjamin knows that no one else will bother to help a voodoo woman, so if he doesn't try to save his sister from hanging, her case is hopeless. But while he's investigating the darker corners of pre-Civil War New Orleans, someone has marked him for his own voodoo curse. And if that doesn't work, a knife in the back will do the trick just as well.I really like this one. Creepy stuff going on here! Benjamin is a great character. Can't wait for the next one.

  • Kara
    2019-04-13 20:36

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a story set in New Orleans must contain elements of Mardi Gras and Voodoo.Having covered Mardi Gras pretty well already in this series, Hambly now, after hinting at in the previous two books, tackles Voodoo full on. She throws a lot of supernatural elements at the reader with just enough drugs and power-of-persuasion thrown in to steer clear of full on fantasy, but still making one wonder, what if...?I also liked that she got into the “opiate of the masses” aspect of it, presenting it as being pretty much parallel to Catholicism. Oh yes, and there’s a mystery involving poison, but as ever, the setting is a main event.

  • Marlene Banks
    2019-04-11 15:41

    Ms Hambly maintains an excellent story line and description of the mentality and landscape of 1830s New Orleans when the French settlers pushed up against the incoming Americans. She skillfully demonstrates the social and political contention between French descendants and Americans in conjunction with all the other foreign invaders. The treatment of slaves and the plight of so called free blacks in a society that was in a state of transitioning culture was depicted with seemingly accurate narratives. Benjamin January novels grab and hold your attention despite the often repulsive details of the environment.

  • Diane Lewis
    2019-04-01 17:47

    Musician Benjamin January learns that his sister, a self-proclaimed voodooist, has been arrested for murder along with the beautiful young wife of the (supposedly dead) son of a prominent family. January, an amateur sleuth, sets out to prove his sister's innocence. In an atmospheric New Orleans of the 1830's, January, a Free Man of Color, delves into ugly secrets and shocking lies, using what resources he's "allowed" in this prejudiced era. Hambly's writing puts you in the swamps, shacks and courtrooms of the time-period, occasionally too much so, but I hung in there with Benjamin and rooted for his success.

  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-03-28 16:29

    I picked up this historical mystery, set in 1830s New Orleans, when I was down there for a conference recently. I'd taken a historical walking tour, and wanted to immerse myself in that world. Hambly's novel, featuring Benjamin January, a free man of color, fit the bill perfectly. It's well-researched and recreates the world effectively; the major characters are appealing and Marie Laveau, the voodoo practitioner, has a fairly large role as a supporting character. The story itself might have been a fairly routine mystery, but the circumstances of the world that was created made it a memorable read.

  • Kalendra Dee
    2019-03-29 15:35

    Benjamin January’s sister, Olympe, has been accused of murder. Olympe, a voodoo practitioner, is accused of supplying the poison that killed young Isaak Jumon. Isaak’s wife, Cécile, is also in jail for his murder. January, desperate to save Olympe, plunges into the world of voodoo. He soon finds evidence in his rooms that someone is trying to curse him or kill him. As his life reels out of control, January must approach Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, to help him in his quest.

  • Terry
    2019-04-07 17:48

    While adding books from my old paper book journal, I rediscovered Barbara Hambly's books about a free man of color, Benjamin January, in 1830s New Orleans. I remembered that these novels had captured the glamour and the squalor of the city, so I thought I should revisit the series. Either I have changed significantly or the this third volume is of much lower quality. I favor narrative driven books, so the excessive amounts of description slowed the story down so severely that I had to force myself to finish it.

  • robyn
    2019-03-29 22:44

    Very convoluted plot. With voodoo AND poisonings AND fever AND social intrigue AND - boy, as I start to go down the list, I realize just how many ingredients went into this stew. As always, highly recommended. I think this is the book that firmly roots Benjamin in time as well as place - instead of living a life consisting simply of the yearly swing of piano playing and piano lessons, he begins to really create a future for himself, to plan. His family always has a strong presence in these books, but this time round they're firmly in the center of the plot. Love these books.

  • Kate
    2019-03-24 22:30

    A historical-mystery take on voodoo with a dash of skeletons from the closet. Again, an awful lot happens in this book (but this time, no one free is sold into slavery or kidnapped, just tracked by a hired killer!!!) and sometimes the realistic is lost in the melodramatic. The primary mystery wraps up without the reasoning of the protagonist (always irritating) but the Bourne-style fights and description dealing with the second mystery are as thrillery as usual, although I wonder if Hambly will run out of sensitive shocking issues soon.

  • Nilchance
    2019-04-21 20:22

    Great characters, as established the first two books. Genuinely tense mystery made more tense by the involvement of Ben's sister. (view spoiler)[ I really loved the gradual arc of Ben coming to respect Olympe's beliefs, punctuated with a good hard godsmack. The very last chapter, with Ben laying down an offering at a saint's altar, made me teary-eyed. Good stuff. Also Hambly is so great at evoking horror in spare prose, in this case with the restraints in the attic. I don't know how anyone in this series can ever go in attics, because only bad shit happens there. (hide spoiler)]