Bantam, Jul 2003, 23.95, 306 pp.
In 1835, free man of color Benjamin January accompanied by his wife Rose leave New Orleans for Mexico City to provide mental support to his friend opium user, classics user Hannibal Sefton, being hanged for murder. Sefton was one of twenty-four guests attending a dinner provided by Don Prospero de Castellon. However, he is the chosen one accused of poisoning the host's son, the loathed Fernando.
Prospero anticipates Fernando's ghost returning home during the Day of the Dead celebration and when his son's spirit visits he will explain how Sefton killed him. Though the day is soon here, the Guardia Civil Capitan wants to hang Sefton today, but Generalissimo Santa Anna orders him to wait. Seeking to insure that “all's well that ends well”, Benjamin and Rose investigate the numerous guests, workers, and family members to ascertain motive and means in order to prove that Sefton may quote Lady MacBeth but is not the killer.
Though a scorecard is needed to keep track of the suspects that number more than two teams on a football field, DAYS OF THE DEAD is a cleverly written locked door historical mystery. Moving Benjamin to Mexico City provides the audience a different fresh look to 1835 and to the now married protagonist. The lead couple remains a pleasure to follow as they serve as hosts to an intriguing era on the North American continent within a fun to try to solve who-done-it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner