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Dead Water (Benjamin January #8)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  540 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Nineteenth-century New Orleans is a blazing hotbed of scorching politics and personal vendettas. And it's into this fire that Benjamin January falls when he is hired to follow Oliver Weems, a bank official who has absconded with $100,000 in gold and securities. But it's more than just a job for January. The missing money is vital to the survival of the school for freed sla ...more
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Published August 3rd 2004 by Bantam (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 993)
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Jamie Collins
3.5 stars. A good entry in this captivating historical mystery series. Benjamin and Rose are on a steamboat headed up the Mississippi River investigating a theft at first, then later the requisite murder. This is one of those nice little murder mysteries in a contained environment, with a handy map of the riverboat included.

As you'd expect with Hambly, there are interesting details about river travel in the 1830's. During this off-season trip on a low river, the boat is taking passengers and car
This is the first of the Benjamin January books that I have read, but it won't be the last.

Set in 1830s New Orleans (a period I am studying), the book involves free man of color January being hired by the Bank of Louisiana to find the gold that one of its officers has embezzled.

This is a dangerous proposition for January and his wife, Rose, because they have to get on a steamship that is leaving New Orleans and headed to parts of the country where there are no free blacks to speak of.

Hambly's hi
Have there really been 8 of these? I love this character and the historical setting of New Orleans and its odd race relations. I haven't read any of her fantasy. I wonder if I would like it as well.
Mar 15, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Benjamin January and his charming wife Rose are in trouble: the bank they entrusted their savings to has been robbed, leaving them and the other investors penniless. But the president of the bank has made Benjamin an offer he can't refuse: the opportunity to hunt down the thief and recover the gold before anyone is the wiser. So Benjamin and Rose, with their opium-addicted friend Hannibal Sefton, hop on a steamboat headed upriver along with the suspect and a host of other unusual characters. But ...more
Marlene Banks
Jul 25, 2016 Marlene Banks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the story and the progression of the protagonist's life in these novels. The writer stays on point with her character portrait. This was a very good plot, a page turner. The last BJ novel I read was slow and kind of hard to get through. I thought maybe Miss Hambly had tapped out on her Benjamin January muse but I am glad to see she had not. Dead Water is one of my favorites to date. Kept me wanting to read more about this interesting fictional character, his family and friends. Great endin ...more
Elizabeth K.
This is the most recent in Hambly series of historical mysteries featuring a free black guy in New Orleans in the early 19th century. I enjoy the books a lot, but we're at the point where the series is being stretched a little thin. Oh, and this book features something that makes my Top Ten Annoying Things That Can Happen in Novels list. There's one recurring character who is living among the dregs of society in New Orleans, but who originally came from an upper class background back in Europe. ...more
Tara Hall
Dec 27, 2012 Tara Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed Hambly’s books since reading her vampire work Those that Hunt the Night years ago, and picked this up because I enjoy Civil War period books. I was not disappointed. This book kept my attention from the very first page. The cast of characters was so well drawn they seemed like real people, and the book more of play I was watching than a novel, because I could imagine it so effortlessly.

I was unsure at first if I was going to identify with January as a protagonist, having never rea
Sep 11, 2011 Goose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much improved over Days of the Dead. Thank goodness that side trip to Mexico is over and we can get back to concentrating on Benjamin and Rose. This time out the couple, with their fiddler friend Hannibal(much less annoying here than in Days of The Dead), board a steamboat in search of an embezzler. Much like an Agatha Christie novel, many characters are introduced, all whom seem to have secrets to keep. The fun is trying to figure out which secrets pertain to the embezzled cash and a related mu ...more
Carol Wilde
Aug 16, 2016 Carol Wilde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin January goes undercover again in this one to try to find the stolen assets of a New Orleans bank where he and Rose had deposited their entire fortune. The Underground Railroad makes its first appearance in this book. (Had to happen, didn't it?)
Shirley Holm
Apr 27, 2015 Shirley Holm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love to be transported back to 1830s New Orleans. Wish Barbara Hambly would write more Benjamin January novels. I believe I have now read them all. Love the characters, the setting and the historical perspective.
Jun 24, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good mystery series. First half of the 1800's in New Orleans and surrounding area. A very clear picture of society, slavery, and the POV of free blacks at that time.
Feb 21, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it
Another interesting and entertaining Benjamin January mystery. I so like the characters of Ben, Hannibal and Rose. As usual, I didn't anticipate the resolution at all.
I'm just having a hard time feeling very sorry for Benjamin right now. He gets good fortune, then sticks around New Orleans, the place he should and does fear to live. It's like listening to someone complain that the river they are dangling their feet in has alligators.
Jan 30, 2014 Bonnie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, as well as all the others I've read in this series. Ms. Hambly does a very good job of depicting the dilemmas faced by free blacks in that period. The plot is interesting and the resolution interesting and surprising.
Peggy Thomson
A steamboat on the Miss. 1836/ Very hazardous for January to leave the relative safety of new Orleans.
Jun 25, 2012 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

Hambly finally cannot resist the temptation to have her main character rub elbows with a major historical figure. She even has January save the person’s life, ensuring history will plod on as written, rather than taking any sort of dramatic left turn.

It’s an exciting riverboat adventure involving stolen gold (and lots of it), river pirates, the Underground Railroad, slave stealers, and even a dueling match, but I wasn’t quite as sucked in as I was with earlier adventures – for some reason this c
Jul 05, 2016 Bess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jul 06, 2014 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book by Barbara Hamley
Jun 03, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, this is the best of the series.
M Reads
Ben, his wife, and a friend are asked to travel aboard a riverboat up the Mississippi river to uncover the location of stolen gold. Complications arise due to African magic, the slave trade, and the twists the story takes as the trio attempt to solve the mystery. Set in a period before the Civil War I think that this would have been an even better read if it had included more historical detail and context.
Dec 19, 2012 Doris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben January is hard on the heels of the man who stole the funds from the free blacks of New Orleans. The money included not only his personal savings, but also the funds which were earmarked to start a school for the free black people of the area.

This hard hitting series deals with racism, personal vendettas and greed in a realistic but sometimes uncomfortable way.

Highly recommended.
Jul 31, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Bit of a sluggish start - and then a very quick resolution. But definitely an improvement on the last one! And some promising developments for future books.
Mar 01, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
Another Benjamin January book.. gotta love a little pre-Civil War New Orleans. There are a lot of characters and things do get a little confusing at times, but I just love this series. I think I have only one more and then I am done. I really loved the first one A Free Man of Color. I was fascinated by the whole New Orleans free black creole society.
I always think of this author's books as keepers. This is no exception. The historical aspects are fascinating. Benjamin January is an attractive character. When I read about him it is like visiting an old friend. This book seemed a little more simplistic than her others, but the riverboat details were terrific, and the ending was pleasing.
Rebecca Huston
A case involving stolen gold, a voodooienne's curse, steamboats, and southern belles, with Benjamin and Rose in real trouble. Another excellent entry in the series, and one that kept me up all night reading. Recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:
Oct 19, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010booksread
This series is back on track after a slight slump. The return to the Mississippi recaptures the tone of the series. Set almost entirely on a steamboat, this mystery does a great job of showing you the gun at the beginning and then using it at the end. So to speak. This is certainly one of my favorite series of mysteries of all time.
Dec 03, 2011 Unwisely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical, 2011
Yay, more Benjamin January! (I thought I'd read all of the ones published, then I found out there were more.) This book did not disappoint; I devoured it over a lazy Sunday afternoon. More Rose, more Hannibal, with some bank collapse thrown in. It was published before the current bank collapse, but it was nice to see evil-doers pay.
Mar 11, 2014 Librarylady90 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Hambly's series, and this addition is an engaging and enjoyable one. It includes the characters we have grown to love -- Benjamin, Rose, and Hannibal -- and the setting of a river boat on the Mississippi is a nice shift from the New Orleans level of intrigue.
Jun 22, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Historical Mystery. Set in 1830's New Orleans. Very vivid descriptions of the time, its people and way of life. Ms. Hambly capture how terrifying it was to be a freeman of color with slave dealers running around. Good mystery not easy to figure out.
Jan 16, 2013 Nae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always with this series ... an entertaining and enjoyable read, and not just because N'Awlins is probably one of my most favorite places to be :) If you have never read any of Hambly's books in this series you are missing a special treat for sure.
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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 and Buried (Benjamin January, #9)
  • The Shirt on His Back (Benjamin January, #10)
  • Ran Away (Benjamin January, #11)

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