In A Free Man of Color and Sold Down the River, Benjamin January guided readers through the seductive maze of New Orleans' darkest quarters. Now January joins the orchestra of the city's top opera house — only to become enmeshed in a web of hate and greed more murderous than any drama onstage.
In 1835, the cold February streets glitter with masked revelers in Carnival costumes. An even more brilliant display is promised at the American Theater, where impresario Lorenzo Belaggio has brought the first Italian opera to town. But it's pitch-black in the muddy alley outside the stage door when Benjamin January, coming from rehearsal with the orchestra, hears a slurred whisper, sees the flash of a knife, and is himself wounded as he rescues Belaggio from a vicious attack.
The bombastic impresario first accuses two of his tenors, then suspects his rival, the manager of New Orleans' other opera company. Could competition for audiences really provoke such violent skulduggery? Or has Belaggio taken too many chances in the catfight between two sopranos, one superseded by the other as his mistress and his prima donna?
But burning in January's mind and heart is a darker possibility. The opera Belaggio plans to present — a magnificent version of Othello — strikes a shocking chord in this culture. Is the murderous tragedy of the noble Moor and his lady, the spectacle of a black man's passion for a white beauty, one that some Creole citizen — or American parvenu — would do anything to keep off the stage?
Bloody threats and voodoo signs, poison and brutal murder seem to implicate many strange bedfellows. And Benjamin must discover who — in rage, retribution, or an insidious new commerce in this beautiful cutthroat city — will kill and kill ... and who will Die Upon a Kiss.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Die Upon a Kiss||Series: A Benjamin January Novel, , #5|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Bantam Books|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Die Upon a Kiss|
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Die Upon a Kiss
Chapter One"... nigger," muttered a man's voice, hoarse in the dark of the alley but very clear.
Benjamin January froze in his tracks. Would this, he wondered, be the occasion on which he'd be hauled into court and hanged-or, more informally, beaten to death on the public street-for the crime of defending himself against a white man's assault?
The gas-jet above the American Theater's stage door was out. A misty glimmer beyond the alley's narrow mouth showed him that the gambling-parlor at the City Hotel on the other side of Camp Street was still in operation, and above the wet plop of hooves, the creak of harness, a man's voice sang jerkily in English about Ireland's em'rald hills. It was past three and bitterly cold. Even in Carnival season, New Orleans had to sleep sometime.
January considered turning immediately back to the stage door and retreating through the theater and out to the street by one of the side-doors that admitted patrons to its galleries or pit. He was a big man-six feet three-and built on what the slave-dealers at the baracoons along Baronne Street liked to call "Herculean" lines; he could have taken most assailants without trouble. But he was also forty-two years old and had learned not to take on anybody in a pitch-dark alley less than five feet wide, especially when he didn't know if they were a) armed b) white or c) alone. Words had been uttered: that implied one auditor at least.
But Marguerite Scie, ballet mistress of the Theater's new Opera company, had locked the alley door behind him. By this time, she'd have ascended from the prop-room on the ground floor to the backstage regions immediately abo...