Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shirt on His Back” as Want to Read:
Shirt on His Back
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shirt on His Back (Benjamin January #10)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  355 Ratings  ·  58 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 ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Severn House Digital (first published June 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shirt on His Back, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Shirt on His Back

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 712)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 17, 2011 Yune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jamie Collins
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
Apr 07, 2014 Saralee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Mz. 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
Jul 26, 2011 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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??).
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 24, 2016 Joe Slavinsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the tenth, in the "Ben January" series, and Hambly shows the extent of her historical knowledge, by taking him out of his home element, New Orleans in the mid 1830's, and out to the Oregon Territory. His friend Abishag Shaw, a lieutenant with the N.O. guard, is called upon to avenge his younger brother's death. Since most of the country's banks have collapsed, January, who is desperate for money, agrees to go with Shaw, and another friend, opiate/alcohol addict Hannibal Sefton, to w ...more
Sep 17, 2014 Goose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this Benjamin January mystery, Ben joins Abishag Shaw, local law enforcement, on a trip out west in the Rocky Mountains region. Shaw is looking for his brother's killer and Ben is hoping to make some much needed money. As with many January novels,characters are introduced at a fast pace and Hambly sometimes doesn't give them enough time or traits to distinguish themselves. However, if you relax and just let the story go where it's headed you will be rewarded with some good action scenes, a co ...more
May 01, 2013 Gee-Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Apr 01, 2011 robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
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
Jun 01, 2013 Marlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2016 Bess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite honestly, I almost abandoned it halfway through. It was by far the most confusing book in the series - so much happened in such a short span of time, and it was very hard to keep the players straight. Also, the main plot line dealt with the life of one of the lesser characters, so I suspected I could have skipped it and not lost anything as I continued the series.

Still... It perked up considerably at the end, and I'm glad I stuck with it. Looking forward to the next one!
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
Oct 10, 2014 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great Benjamin January mystery, this one travelling from New Orleans to the western mountains. Lots of vivid descriptions and historical allusions, including an interesting picture of the banking crisis at the change of the Jackson and Buchanan presidencies - here I thought it was a modern phenomena. I especially value Barabara Hambly's depiction of her very human protagonists as well as their very human foes.
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
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.
Jul 07, 2015 dianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: benjamin-january
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
Jul 31, 2012 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

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
Mona Grant-Holmes
May 28, 2014 Mona Grant-Holmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Kradoska
In the 1700's, trappers and vengeance, a Benjamin Jsnuary story
Dec 15, 2015 Pg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the series, love Ben, Hannibal, Rose, Abe; particularly love New Orleans, so less interested in the books not situated and about the city is fascinating, if I wanted to read about riverboats, Mexico or the frontier, would choose other authors / characters. This time, Ben, Hannibal and Lt. Shaw travel to the frontier to avenge the death of Shaw's brother, end up interacting with a number of interesting traders, entrepreneurs and native Americans, all with friendly and unfriendly c ...more
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
Oct 04, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Marked Man (An Abigail Adams Mystery, #2)
  • New Orleans Noir
  • The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld
  • A Pattern of Blood (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #2)
  • Caveat Emptor (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #4)
  • The Sleeping Partner (Sarah Tolerance, #3)
  • Rampart Street (Storyville, #3)
  • Strange Images of Death (Joe Sandilands, #8)
  • Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3)
  • Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas
  • The Winter of Her Discontent (Rosie Winter, #2)
  • Carousel: A Whyborne & Griffin Short Story, #3.4
  • The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
  • Laying Ghosts (Deputy Joe, #3)
  • The Deathly Portent (A Lady Fan Mystery, #2)
  • The Smuggler and the Warlord (A Charm of Magpies, #0.5)
  • Bad Behavior  (Bad in Baltimore, #5)
  • Barefoot: Escape On The Underground Railroad
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 about Barbara Hambly...

Other Books in the Series

Benjamin January (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January, #1)
  • Fever Season (Benjamin January, #2)
  • Graveyard Dust (Benjamin January, #3)
  • Sold Down the River (Benjamin January, #4)
  • Die Upon a Kiss (Benjamin January, #5)
  • Wet Grave (Benjamin January, #6)
  • Days of the Dead (Benjamin January, #7)
  • Dead Water (Benjamin January, #8)
  • Dead and Buried (Benjamin January, #9)
  • Ran Away (Benjamin January, #11)

Share This Book