Days of the Dead
Hannibal Sefton is in trouble. Ben January’s dearest friend, a gifted musician who suffers from TB, enjoyed a new lease on life from the climate in Mexico. Now he writes that he stands accused of murder, and Fernando’s ghost is anticipated to appear with the ancient gods of Mexico on November 1st and decide the killer’s punishment. January is out of his New Orleans element but brings his detective skills and new wife Rose with him. Hannibal has a love interest in Consuela, the opera singer, half-sister of the murdered man. As Consuela explains the complicated family, many emerge as suspects, but Hannibal seems to have been the only person with motive and opportunity. He was being held prisoner by the mad land-holder Don Prospero, allowed out only to entertain, and was seen by him going into the study with the poison brandy. Fernando had threatened Hannibal over some money won at cards.
By this point in previous adventures, January has had a lot at stake. By comparison, this reads almost like a “cozy” to be solved, with him and Rose as the Nick and Nora team, but the peril mounts and the scenes gain realism as details are drawn in. The novel isn’t steeped in atmosphere like Hambly’s usual work, but plot-driven and complex, it’s vintage January.