Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

1930s Mexico

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

Days of the Dead

by Barbara Hambly

Benjamin January, hero of Barbara Hambly’s historical mysteries, this time leaves New Orleans for lawless Mexico City hoping to save his friend Hannibal Sefton, who is accused of a murder he claims he did not commit. We include this book because of the helpful role of January’s new wife Rose, who enthusiastically does her part trying to untangle the confusing web of lies surrounding the man’s death. January and Rose, both freed educated people of color, find themselves marginally more accepted in Mexico where the institution of slavery has been forbidden. They must, however, learn how Mexican society works - from the harsh restrictions placed on upper class women to the misuse of the Indian laborers. During the course of their investigations, Rose and January encounter General Santa Anna who is busy planning to march his “Army of Operations” north to “deal with the Norteamericano rebels.” They also deal with bandit attacks and Mexico City’s ever present beggars, driven from their villages by poverty and starvation, the result of twenty-five years of fighting that began in 1810 when Mexico first sought independence from Spain. Hambly has given us impressive and fascinating descriptions of Mexico City in this period, and of the physical layout and working life of a typical hacienda. Keeping track of the numerous personalities introduced in the plot, however, can be difficult.

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