Dead Water - Barbara Hambly
This is the first of the Benjamin January books that I have read, but it won't be the last.

Set in 1830s New Orleans (a period I am studying), the book involves free man of color January being hired by the Bank of Louisiana to find the gold that one of its officers has embezzled.

This is a dangerous proposition for January and his wife, Rose, because they have to get on a steamship that is leaving New Orleans and headed to parts of the country where there are no free blacks to speak of.

Hambly's historical detail and storycraft are impeccable; she keeps you involved at every turn of the page. Everyone has something to hide, and sometimes the apparent heroes turn out to be villains.

I enjoyed this book a great deal and will seek out more of the series.