The story fascinated me, and I learned a lot about the realities of that time and place while being caught up in the mystery. Fever Season is the second book in the thirteen-book Benjamin January series.
In fever season, traffic in the streets was thin. Those who could afford to do so had left New Orleans with the ending of Lent; those who could not had all through the long summer hurried about their business as if Bronze John, as they called the sickness, were a creditor one could avoid if one kept off the streets.
Midday, the molten September heat raised steam from the water in the French town's cypress-lined gutters and the rain puddles in the soupy streets. Mephitic light filtered through clouds of steamboat soot from the levees and gave the town the look of a grimy but inexplicably pastel-walled hell. Only those whose errands were pressing walked the streets then.
[Can't you just feel the oppressive humidity and the fear of yellow fever?]
The Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
He felt a little safer, this close to New Orleans, but never ceased to listen before him and behind. Each time he heard the crunch of hooves approaching from either direction he quickly left the oyster-shell pathway and waited in the woods until whoever was passing him had vanished from sight.
Genre: Mystery / Historical
Length: 417 Pages
Amazon Link: Fever Season
Author's Website: Barbara Hambly
Synopsis from Amazon:
Benjamin January made his debut in bestselling author Barbara Hambly's A Free Man of Color, a haunting mélange of history and mystery. Now he returns in another novel of greed, madness, and murder amid the dark shadows and dazzling society of old New Orleans, named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.
The summer of 1833 has been one of brazen heat and brutal pestilence, as the city is stalked by Bronze John—the popular name for the deadly yellow fever epidemic that tests the healing skills of doctor and voodoo alike. Even as Benjamin January tends the dying at Charity Hospital during the steaming nights, he continues his work as a music teacher during the day.
When he is asked to pass a message from a runaway slave to the servant of one of his students, January finds himself swept into a tempest of lies, greed, and murder that rivals the storms battering New Orleans. And to find the truth he must risk his freedom...and his very life.
FYI: This versatile author has written fantasy, romance, science fiction, mystery, and vampire stories.