• A Free Man of Color

  • The Benjamin January Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Barbara Hambly
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This lush and haunting novel tells of a city steeped in decadent pleasures and of a man, proud and defiant, caught in a web of murder and betrayal. 

It is 1833. In the midst of Mardi Gras, Benjamin January, a Creole physician and music teacher, is playing piano at the Salle d'Orleans when the evening's festivities are interrupted - by murder. 

The ravishing Angelique Crozat, a notorious octoroon who travels in the city's finest company, has been strangled to death. With the authorities reluctant to become involved, Ben begins his own inquiry, which will take him through the seamy haunts of riverboatmen and into the huts of voodoo-worshipping slaves.

But soon the eyes of suspicion turn toward Ben - for, black as the slave who fathered him, this free man of color is still seen as the perfect scapegoat.

©1997 Barbara Hambly (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about A Free Man of Color

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The narrator was good but not great

I love all the Benjamin January stories, but I was disappointed that Hannibal Sefton was given a southern accent, instead of an Irish accent. One of the most interesting features of this setting is the mixture of different cultures, and Hannibal’s culture is quite different from the wealthy Americans, who would be expected to have that same southern accent. Therefore, the lack of an Irish accent detracts from the portrayal of different points of view that stem from the different cultures, in my opinion.

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Hated it

Too much fluff and descriptions. I stopped at chapter 5 could never grasp the full story

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I felt like I was there

I am new to these tales so forgive my naïveté.

This author and voice actor combined to create a vivid, exciting adventurous story.
You should stop reading this review and get Barbara Hambly’s book now!

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Wonderful Series

I have loved this series for many years and am delighted to find them on Audible.

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Disappointing narration

A story taking place in New Orleans well prior to the civil war with a free black as the protagonist. Sounds like a white guy from Ohio telling the story. Very disappointed that dialect was entirely ignored. The story is historically accurate and a fine “who dun it”.

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Love this series!

The stories of Benjamin January are just great! Barbara does a wonderful job of bringing this time in history to life through story and characters.

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  • Lisa Garrard
  • 06-29-22

Excellent

A great story, brilliantly told a real insight into the ways and thinking of the era. Would definitely recommend.

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  • Sheila
  • 11-02-21

A Really Good Read

I admit to.knowing very little about this period of history in America so found the story fascinating, particularly how society worked at all levels, prior to and during the Americanisation of the area. Book is beautifully written exposing the prejudices of the times from the victim's position and at times bewildering discrimination amongst races, and within races. The reading was superb and brought the characters to life. An intelligent read which manages to thought provoking and entertaining. Highly recommend.

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  • The Curator
  • 03-20-21

Fascinating community

I vaguely knew that there were different levels of mixed race in 19th century America but I had no idea how these related to New Orleans or how it was perpetuated by people of colour. It all makes for a fascinating backdrop for a solid murder mystery.

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  • Christopher Edwards
  • 06-22-22

Great stories

These are terrific, and kudos to the author for giving them free on audible. Thoroughly enjoying the series.

The narrator is very good. Don’t be put off by others complaining about him. He is excellent.

And to those complaining about the Hannibal Sefton accent, he has an upper crust British accent which is accurate for an English Ulsterman in Ireland. Contrary to other complaints, he is not Irish. He is from an English Protestant “Orangemen” family, which was essentially the occupying British (ie, the people the IRA objected to … the ruling class people opposed to the reunification of Ireland). He was at Oxford and other elite English schools in England. He would certainly have a posh English accent.

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  • Ishy Neville
  • 01-31-22

Wonderful to revisit

I’ve been reading the January books for decades and this reading is a way to delightfully revisit a favourite