The Shirt on His Back (Benjamin January, #10)
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The Shirt on His Back (Benjamin January #10)

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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  234 ratings  ·  47 reviews

The new 'Benjamin January' novel from the best-selling author - Abishag Shaw is seeking vengeance for his brother’s murder – and Benjamin January is seeking money after his bank crashes. Far beyond the frontier, in the depths of the Rocky Mountains, both are to be found at the great Rendezvous of the Mountain Men: a month-long orgy of cheap booze, shooting-matches, tall ta

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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Severn House Publishers
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Erin (PT)
I always have so little to say about Hambly's books...largely because they're always such an abiding and deep pleasure to read. It's easy for me to get lost in the worlds she creates and dwell inside them for their duration like a princess in a spell.

With her last book I talked about the pleasure of "seeing" old faces; characters that populate the background through most of the series. With Shirt on His Back, we are outside of New Orleans, outside of those comfort zones and among an entirely ne...more
Yune
Wait, said I as I peered at the small text on the cover. Benjamin January, surgeon and piano player and murder investigator, free black man of New Orleans -- in the Rocky Mountains?

Yep. And I very much enjoyed it, even though it meant that Rose had to stay behind. (It's a bit of a pet peeve with me when characters get married and then for all practical purposes act as though they're still single -- see Miles Vorkosigan -- but in this case I think Hambly was careful to keep Rose a light presence...more
Jamie
3.5 stars. I love Hambly, and I love this series. This book seemed a little more rushed than most, but it was still a good read.

When the Bank of Louisiana fails in 1836, Benjamin January loses his savings and is desperate for work. He accepts a job traveling out west with Lieutenant Shaw, who is planning avenge his brother’s murder. Accompanied by a depressed but sober Hannibal, they arrive at the annual Rocky Mountain Rendezvous for fur trappers and traders, where they try to find the murderer...more
Saralee
I usually love the Benjamin January stories, but this one was a stand-out. As always, Barbara Hambly's research has led her to build an awesomely convincing world. I loved the early West setting, the fur trappers and the others out in the middle of the pristine forest, rough-and-tumble lives they lead, with violence and vengeance like a scarlet thread running throughout. There are melancholy predictions that this breathtaking wilderness won't last forever.

It was especially cool to discover all...more
Rebecca Huston
Another fine entry in the Benjamin January series. After the loss of the family money in a bank crash that is sweeping the nation, Benjamin joins with Abishag Shaw and Hannibal to journey to the wild West to track down the killer of Shaw's youngest brother at a mountain man rendezvous. Unusual setting and characters along with a very curious murder all add to this being a great entry in the series. Very much recommended for fans of historical mysteries and of Barbara Hambly.

For the longer revie...more
Anne
Funny that my friend and companion in voracious mystery reading Alison just read this too!

I agree that the New Orleans setting is more compelling to me as a reader, although this segment of US history is interesting. This story was bursting with characters but I felt like I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of them all...I kept getting jumbled.

Still think this is an amazing series which introduced me to the concept of a "free man of color" in the fascinating person of Benjamin January.

I will ke...more
Unwisely
I do like this series, but this wasn't my favorite book. It was a whole leaving the South thing, which was fine (and historically interesting - I guess I hadn't realized quite how quickly American settlers denuded the country). But overall there were too many people (and too many factions) for me to keep track of who was who. Or, for the most part, care, honestly.

Still three stars for being totally readable despite its faults (no Rose? Seriously??).
Text Addict
This gets five stars because not only is it a fine mystery/adventure (complete with murders, gunfights, revenge, near-scalpings, boxing matches, drinking to excess, fleeing into a raging river, and being hunted by Indians), but Hambly deftly weaves in the dark grays and blacks of the historical context as well as the problem of revenge and justice and the importance of family. As with any excellent writing, then, the work as a whole is much more than a mystery/adventure story - not that there's...more
Gee-Gee
This is the 10th book in the Benjamin January series. He is a free man of color, living in New Orleans. He is a medical doctor, trained in Paris, and an accomplished piano player. All the previous novels have taken place in and around New Orleans, but this one departs and follows January, Shaw and Hannibal into the far northwest to a month-long trading rendezvous where trappers, hunters, Indians and trading companies all come together to exchange merchandise, plot political and personal alignme...more
Shirley Schwartz
Fanatastic Book! Barbara Hambly is one of my favourite authors and with good reason. Her Benjamin January novels are wonderful. This book is different than the previous in this series. Up to now all the books have been set in early 1800 New Orleans. For those that don't know Benjamin January is a free black man living in New Orleans. Always looking over his shoulder as he tries to live his life because there are so many that don't believe he's a free black man and think instead that he is an esc...more
Alison Dellit
I like Hambly's books for their exploration of social mores in a very different USA, but her plotting is mediocre, and this one, probably earns just bad. Could see most of the twists coming a mile off. And some of it was just silly.

Having said that, as an exploration of native american and settler relations, it's fascinating. Hambly builds a detailed and nuanced view of a camp where warring factions make alliances and friendships while navigating different power dynamics, prejudices and cultural...more
Doris
This installment in the ongoing tale of a black man in the early years of the United States is a diversion from the norm, in that the tale begins and end in New Orleans, but for the most part takes place in the West/Midwest. Although the story does not state the actual location, most of the trapper rendezvous were held in what is now Wyoming, and, based on that, I could understand the reaction of January when he fell in the river and was shocked that it was so cold in June.

Although this was dif...more
Elli
This is the latest in the series featuring Benjamin January, born a slave, became a free man through his mother being purchased by a person who wished to be her protector along with her children. New Orleans was another world in the ante-bellum south and the series focuses on this and life how it was then and there. It's very interesting and well done by the author who chose to be a part of that city for many years. She is particularly adept at her characterizations and how they interweave with...more
robyn
Finally it's Abishag Shaw's starring turn - although truthfully, he's no more a main character in this book than in others. But some light is cast on his past, and a few revelations made. It's a very different book from the others in the series, with a very different cast of characters; instead of New Orleans, where the rough-and-ready Americans are considered intrusive, we're on their home turf, keeping company with rough and dangerous - and strangely honorable - men. Oddly, or not so oddly, Be...more
Marlene
Originally published at Reading Reality

There’s a banking crisis. Too many people lose everything they have invested when the banks fail, and their investments are suddenly worthless. Major banks close. Jobs are hard to come by. People who were doing mostly okay start to think they might lose their homes to foreclosure.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But in The Shirt On His Back, the tenth of Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January historical mysteries, the banking crisis is the Panic of 1837, under the ne...more
Jennie
Finally, finally, finally, a new Benjamin January novel. This time, our old friend travels west to an annual trappers' camp with Shaw and Hannibal to track a murderer.

I liked this mainly because I've always been fond of January, Shaw, and Hannibal. I've also been starved for a January novel and can't for the life of me get my hands on a copy of #9, so I broke down and read this one out of order.

After all this time, though, I was a little disappointed that the story takes us out of New Orleans, a...more
Pamela Mclaren
Another wonderful story by Barbara Hambly from her Benjamin January series. January, a freed slave, European-trained surgeon and music teacher, lives with his second-wife, Rose, in New Orleans. In this story, however, the banks are failing and to make a living, January ends up leaving New Orleans and Rose, who just learns she is pregnant. He travels to the Rocky Mountains with his friend, Abishag Shaw of the City Guards, to hunt down the murderer of Shaw's youngest brother.

In the midst of mounta...more
Allen
Another excellent offering in the Benjamin January series. This one takes place in the west at a trappers' rendezvous, and has some good cultural interplay between different Indian tribes, trappers, and European "wild west tourists" in the mid-19th century.
dianne budd
i have loved Almost all of her books. This one, not placed in New Orleans, but with Benjamin and 2 of his buddies out west wranglin' some others - has lost the most interesting character - the City. i just found myself gazing ahead a few pages to see if i could (pul-eeze) avoid yet another car-chase-equivalent (some hostile so-and-so chasing them for some unclear reason). Well, i think i'll consider this read. Skip it. DO read the delicious early ones with Marie Laveau, her compatriots, New Orle...more
Kara

The latest in the Benjamin January series is best summed up as True Grit as narrated by the Crying Indian from the 1970’s environmental commercials with Doktor Frankenstein and monster added in, directed by Quentin Tarantino to raise the stakes to the level of Kill Them All.

It’s also a microscopic examination of Manifest Destiny. It all very well to make sweeping statements about political, cultural, economic and social themes of a general time period, but seeing it up close and personal…. It ma...more
Mona Grant-Holmes
Once again, Hambly gives us another good read. This time Benjamin joins his friend, Abishag Shaw to the western frontier to investigate the death of Shaw's youngest brother,John. Benjamin's friend, Hannibal goes with them, hpoing the fresh air will help with overcoming his addiction s. The find themselves at the rendavous of trappers who have come to sell their furs. They know John's killer is present, but they don't know what he looks like. Not long after they arrive, the one person they know t...more
Diana Gagliardi
January is taken from his hometown of New Orleans and travels to the wilds of Oregan to assist his friend Lt Shaw and to earn some money to support his growing family (!) Here we find a tale of vengence, trappers, Indians, and callous violence. Again, I love the series, the characters, and her fine attention to details of mores (even the LoC agrees- "social manners and customs" is one of the set categories).

This is one of my go-to series for amazing historical mysteries and they never cease to e...more
Robert Kradoska
In the 1700's, trappers and vengeance, a Benjamin Jsnuary story
Heather
January and company stray from the more familiar surroundings of New Orleans to pursue the man who murdered Abishag Shaw's brother. The search takes them first to a frontier fort and then onto a rendezvous in the Rockies. I particularly enjoyed the setting as a sometime student of the history of the fur trade in the West. It was fun to run see what happens when the men run into trappers like Kit Carson.

I've liked Barbara Hambly's for years and I especially appreciate her keen eye for historical...more
Kathy
Benjamin January, Abishag Shaw and Hannibal Sexton are at it again to solve another murder only this time it happens out West. Lt. Shaw has asked Ben to help him solve amystery that takes him away from New Orleans. Because the Bank of Louisiana has gone bankrupt, business had dried up for both he and Rose Ben decides to go on this adventure. I have been reading this series since book one and being a fan of New Orleans history this series has not disappointed.
Melliott
I enjoyed this, but it was neither the best nor my favorite Benjamin January novel; although I liked getting the historical flavor of the relationships between trappers, Native Americans, and the companies who both employed and exploited them both, I missed the personal setting and characters of her books that are contained within the New Orleans setting. I'm going to keep going with this series, since I am three books behind now.
Jessica
I was very excited for this one, I've long wanted to get into the backstory of Abishag Shaw, and the last book had awesome juicy reveals for Hannibal. But we still don't know that much more, and Shaw was "off camera" for what felt like most of the book, even though it was his brother's murder they were solving! Lots of fascinating detail about trappers and settlers (pre-Civil War), though, and the mystery was quite twisty!
Debra
I have enjoyed Benjamin January, free man of color, ever since I met him. Somehow I missed this one - a mixture of mystery, history, and Rendezvous is so perfect for me.

Maybe my expectations were too high because outside of New Orleans, Benjamin seemed to lose his magic. Too wordy, too drawn out. Still, I am excited about the release of the new one in just a few weeks with confidence I will enjoy it.
Rosalind M
3.5. Well-written, as are all of Barbara Hambly's books. It just seems that when Benjamin January moves too far from New Orleans, the storyline loses some of its spark. Also, though the book was supposed to be about Shaw's hunt for his brother's killer, it ended up drawing so many other trappers and company men into the storyline that Shaw often got lost in the shuffle.
Karen
I like this series in general, but this one! I got to see all my favorite childhood heroes from a new and different perspective! It was a hoot! Brought back memories of the Childhood American Heroes books I read when I was a kid (the blue and orange ones...anyone else read those??) and in this book Ben meets Kit Carson and Jim Bridger!!! Too Cool!!!
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10333
aka Barbara Hamilton

Ranging from fantasy to historical fiction, Barbara Hambly has a masterful way of spinning a story. Her twisty plots involve memorable characters, lavish descriptions, scads of novel words, and interesting devices. Her work spans the Star Wars universe, antebellum New Orleans, and various fantasy worlds, sometimes linked with our own.


"I always wanted to be a writer but everyone...more
More about Barbara Hambly...
Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) Dragonsbane (Winterlands #1) The Time of the Dark (Darwath, #1) Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1) The Armies of Daylight (Darwath, #3)

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