Ben January has several problems. The least of which was traveling from Europe back to his home of New Orleans after the death of his wife. He doesn’t get along with his mother. He finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. He doesn’t make enough money. Oh, and he’s a black man in New Orleans just after the Louisiana Purchase. His parents were slaves.
And he was trained to be a doctor, but as he is reminded no such thing as a black doctor exists in New Orleans.
So he plays music.
January does not belong where he finds himself. And the closest he gets to having a compatriot, somehow who accepts him for himself would be his sister and the man Hannibal, who really is rather uncivilized. He’s a northerner.
This historical mystery is a mixture of gothic plot and western style story, with comments about race and gender thrown in. It shouldn’t work, but it’s like that salad you make with whatever is in the fridge. You have tomatoes, and lettuce, and then you throw apples and peaches. And we would’ve thought, it actually works.