This book was one of the most complicated of the Benjamin January books I've read thusfar.
We start out with the murder of one Hesione LeGros, a former plaçée whom Benjamin has not seen since he was a teenager. At the time, she boasted of being one of Jean LaFitte's many mistresses; she was wearing an incredible collar of topaz at the ball where January was playing the piano. Twenty-three years later, she's a broken-down prostitute found dead in the streets ... and no one cares.
The second murder victim is Artois St. Chinian, a free man of color who also happens to be the tutoring student of January's sweetheart, Rose Vitrac. When a hoped-for vacuum tube is misdirected and Artois receives a box of guns -- amid rumors of a slave rebellion -- things get complicated. To further complicate matters, Artois is the half-brother of Chloe St. Chinian -- who is now married to Henri Viellard, the protector of January's pregnant sister Dominique.
The third murder is at a downriver plantation, Avocet ... where one brother appears to have killed another. January's friend, Sheriff Abishag Shaw, is downriver investigating.
So, the plot is a heavy one. It doesn't take long to find out that even the icy, new Madame Viellard is not all that she initially seems. While January is trying to find out what happened to Hesione and Artois, he and Rose join forces with one of Lafitte's former lieutenants to look into matters.
Throw in a hurricane, and you have an incredible mix!
The subplots all come together in a "whodunnit" that completely blindsided me. The book kept me entertained and guessing throughout.
If you haven't already been reading these books, set in Romantic-era New Orleans, and you like a well-done historical mystery -- you need to get started! The books will stand alone, so you don't have to read them in order (I actually started in the middle of the series, as it turns out). Highly recommended.