My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre, but I’m much more willing to read it when it’s mixed with mystery. I’ve read some of Hambly’s work before and know her to be a fine writer, and I’d read good reviews of this series by people I respect, so I decided to give it a whirl.
I suppose all the descriptions of people’s clothing would have mattered much more to someone who cared about such things, but I do realize that they were important in the context of the story. Personally, I was relieved when the main character went on a journey! I would have been happier had his medical skills been utilized more frequently than they were, but I suppose his experiences were fairly true to life for a “colored” man of his time.
I did learn quite a lot—things that I intend to verify in non-fiction sources shortly. The information about the black code, for instance, and the explanation of the distinction between “black” and “colored” people seemed too precise to be fabricated.
I knew, too, that Louisiana is the only U.S. state whose laws are based on French rather than English common law, which seemed silly to me. Why wouldn’t they go with the standard everyone else used? After reading this novel, I’m starting to realize that there may have been rights given to citizens under French law that were lost under English law.
I’m not sure as to whether or not I’ll go forward in the series, as I’m not sure that I can handle the unhappiness I can see foreshadowed even in some of the titles. However, I will say that this volume is well-written and well-plotted. I certainly didn’t guess who the killer was or why the murder was committed before the big reveal, and that was a pleasant change!