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{Dear Barbara: Fewer Characters, Please.
Signed: Confused}

Die Upon a Kiss
Barbara Hambly
Initial Rating, as posted to Amazon:
Final Rating, On Reconsideration:
I have enjoyed every one of the Ben January "mysteries" from the first up through this one.

But i had to make about three starts at this one before i made it through.

There are too many characters, too many of whom really failed to register on me. I barely managed to keep track of the principals, and probably lost a number of plot details because of not grasping character interactions properly. (I generally like Hambly's books better when they feature smaller casts.)

I must also agree that i could have done with more of January's family (though his placee sister is featured in a rather tense little side-plot) and, perhaps, more of Rose - - although i suspect that "more of Rose" is going to be rather prominent in some future volume.

I especially would have enjoyed more of Abishag Shaw, the Colombo-esque "American" police officer with whom Ben has a working relationship based on mutual respect and trust that's about as close to true friendship as a free man of color and a white man would be able to come in the New Orleans of the mid-nineteenth century. ((Ben's friendship with his Irish fellow-musician is a special case...))

And i'd certainly welcome more of Marie Laveau...

That all being said, i still enjoyed the book quite a bit -- even if i lost track of the details of the mystery part of the plot -- because Hambly, as always, spins a great story of hope and despair, love and hate, life and death and tears and laughter.

While this is not the volume i'd choose to hand to someone who hadn't read any of the previous books -- i'd definitely recommend beginning with "A Free Man of Color", the first -- and while i found it the most difficult of the series so far, i would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who asked me if they ought read it.

((Incidentally, if you have read this book or any of the previous books in this series and enjoyed them, but have not tried her fantasies, i definitely recommend them -- particularly my favourite, the unfortunately out-of-print "Stranger at the Wedding", which straight-facedly combines the best aspects of a Georgette Heyer romantic farce with a mildly gruesome horror plot.))