Cover image for Drinking gourd : a Benjamin January mystery
Title:
Drinking gourd : a Benjamin January mystery
ISBN:
9780727886064
Edition:
First world edition.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 23 cm.
Summary:
"Benjamin January is called up to Vicksburg, deep in cotton-plantation country, to help a wounded 'conductor' of the Underground Railroad -- the secret network of safe-houses that guide escaping slaves to freedom. When the chief 'conductor' of the 'station' is found murdered, Jubal Cain, the coordinator of the whole Railroad system in Mississippi, is accused of the crime. Since Cain can't expose the nature of his involvement in the railroad, January has to step in and find the true killer, before their covers are blown. As January probes into the murky labyrinth of slaves, slave-holders, the fugitives who follow the 'drinking gourd' north to freedom and those who help them on their way, he discovers that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, and that sometimes there are no easy."
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Summary

Summary

Benjamin January investigates the murder of a 'conductor' of the Underground Railway, helping slaves to freedom.

Benjamin January is called up to Vicksburg, deep in cotton-plantation country, to help a wounded "conductor" of the Underground Railroad - the secret network of safe-houses that guide escaping slaves to freedom. When the chief "conductor" of the "station" is found murdered, Jubal Cain - the coordinator of the whole Railroad system in Mississippi - is accused of the crime. Since Cain can't expose the nature of his involvement in the railroad, January has to step in and find the true killer, before their covers are blown.

As January probes into the murky labyrinth of slaves, slave-holders, the fugitives who follow the "drinking gourd" north to freedom and those who help them on their way, he discovers that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, and that sometimes there are no easy answers.


Author Notes

Barbara Hambly lives in Los Angeles, where she is at work on the sixth Benjamin January novel, "Wet Grave", which Bantam will publish in 2002. Her second Benjamin January novel, "Fever Season", was named a "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year.

(Publisher Provided) Barbara Hambly was born in San Diego, California on August 28, 1951. She received a master's degree in medieval history from the University of California at Riverside in 1975. She has worked as a high-school teacher, a model, a waitress, a technical editor, and a karate instructor. At one time, she also wrote scripts for cartoons like Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and He-Man.

She writes many different types of books including fantasy, romance, and mystery. Her works include the Darwath Trilogy, the Benjamin January Mysteries series, Those Who Hunt the Night, The Emancipator's Wife, Someone Else's Shadow, and Patriot Ladies. She has also written for the Star Trek universe, the Star Wars universe, and the Beauty and the Beast television program. She is a Locus award winner.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hambly's outstanding 14th Benjamin January novel (after 2014's Crimson Angel), set in the summer of 1839, takes the free black physician from New Orleans to Vicksburg, Miss., whose swampy environs hide runaway slaves desperate to join the Underground Railroad and "follow the drinking gourd" north to freedom. When Ezekias Drummond, the principal conductor of the local railroad, is stabbed to death, the authorities arrest Jubal Cain, who coordinates the whole railroad operation in Mississippi, for the crime. January, who's been posing as a slave accompanying his white master, must identify Drummond's killer before Cain's role in the railroad is exposed. In addition to the slavery issue, Hambly focuses on broader social concerns. With panache and sensitivity, she explores the plight of women, both black and white, who can only endure abuses in such a society, and are rarely able to escape them as men sometimes can. Her well-tuned ear for the vernacular speech of her characters, whatever their race, is a plus. Agent: Frances Collin, Frances Collin Literary. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Benjamin January, the former slave who now solves mysteries when he's not playing piano for a living, doesn't have much time to find out who killed a Mississippi man who was part of the Underground Railroad. The chief suspect in the murder is the man responsible for the Railroad's entire Mississippi network; to defend himself, he'd have to reveal the truth about the Railroad, and that's something he's not prepared to do. So January must find the real killer before the network is exposed. Hambly treats the setting, the 1830s, with respect but not with excessive devotion. When the mood strikes, she can introduce modern touches, a line of dialogue here or a characterization there that feels right to us but might have felt a bit jarring to people in the nineteenth century. That's not a criticism, though purists might take it that way; rather, it's an acknowledgment that the author is aware that while her setting is historical, her readers are not. Another strong entry in an always enjoyable series.--Pitt, David Copyright 2016 Booklist


Kirkus Review

A former slave ventures into cotton country to participate in the Underground Railroad. Playing piano in a minstrel show is an unlikely job for Benjamin January, born into bondage but now a free man of color who trained as a surgeon in France. But the owner of the All-American Zoological Society's Traveling Circus and Exhibition of Philosophical Curiosities pays January a weekly salary of $10 to send home to his wife and son in New Orleans. When January and his friend Hannibal Sefton, a recovering opium addict who quotes Latin and plays fiddle in the band, receive an urgent call to travel up the Mississippi to Vicksburg, January must pose as the slave of his white companion and look to him for protection. In the Mississippi Valley of 1839, a prime cotton hand sells for $1,500, and January could easily be tricked or even kidnapped into slavery. He's willing to take that chance, however, to give medical help to Rex Ballou, a black barber wounded while trying to rescue runaway slaves following the Drinking Gourdthat is, the Big Dipperto freedom. Ballou works with Ezekias Drummond, a white preacher who's an outspoken critic of abolition by day and a conductor on the Underground Railroad by night. He and his two sons are harboring several fugitives in an old ice house and hoping to move them upriver with the help of Jubal Cain, the assumed name of a founding member of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society posing as a slave dealer. But Cain publicly denounces Drummond and is arrested when the preacher is found stabbed to death in a cabin belonging to the subjugated wife of a wealthy planter. January risks not just his freedom, but his life to find the killer in a world in which white men treat their women little better than their slaves. Hambly (Crimson Angel, 2014, etc.) juxtaposes heroism with hypocrisy and altruism with cruelty in her compelling sixth installment. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Benjamin January travels to Vicksburg, MS, to assist a wounded "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. When the conductor dies, Jubal Cain, who's responsible for coordinating safe houses for runaway slaves, is accused of the murder. It's up to Benjamin to find the real killer. Hambly's outstanding historical series continues with this 14th book (after Crimson Angel). © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.