Die Upon a Kiss by Barbara Hambly

Die Upon a Kiss (Benjamin January, #5)I should have a shelf SHAKESPEARE SPOKEN HERE but then I would embarrass myself by how many references went right over my head.
Anyhow.
In a Louisiana where white (rich) men regularly set up their official black mistresses (AKA placee, with the little french mark under the first e) in their own houses,

in a Louisiana where most (white) Subscription Balls have equally official (black) Blue Ribbon balls,

in a Louisiana where white men attend both but it is considered uncouth for white girls to attend the black balls and impossible for black girls to attend the white ball,

in a Louisiana where a white man can beat his black placee out of jealousy over – nothing really,

in this Louisiana, is it a good idea to put on a play about a black man loving a white woman and killing her out of jealousy?

Obviously! It’s a great play! What could go wrong???eleventy???

Wonderful world-building with details of all the different parts of Louisiana. Physically you have the white and black neighborhoods, the upper class and the lower, and the dock district. Socially you have the French Creole, the Americans, and the Kaintucks – the territory, not the state – and Europeans. Also you have the blacks (slaves) and the colored (freed slaves and born free). In each physical place, which social class enters through the front door, the side door, or is kept waiting outside?

Who marries (or placees) for money? Everyone. Who is pressured to marry (or be placee) someone they don’t like at all? Many people, colored and white, man and woman.

Who is killing opera folk? And why? Was there anyone who liked the dead man, anyone at all? What about the next dead man?
(incidentally, how DARE these men steal the limelight from the prima donna? Dying isn’t that important, everyone does it eventually. Now, attention where it is due, please.)
I almost never figure these things out, but this murderer had little arrows everywhere, dropped in among the many, many arrows pointing in the wrong directions. On the other hand, I love when the reader and a few characters know the killer, but justice is never carried out because the killer is so much more righteous than the corpse.

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