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Fever Season by Barbara Hambly
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I just finished reading Fever Season by Barbara Hambly. Set in New Orleans during the 1830's, it's a murder mystery right in the middle of an epidemic of cholera and yellow fever. The author has a gift for vivid description, and that's an understatement. Her first book in the series, A Free Man of Color, introduced Benjamin January (Janvier) as an intelligent protagonist--physician, musician, Christian. And this second book followed up the promise of the first. I can hardly wait to read Graveyard Dust, which is the third of the series.

Yellow Fever sounds awful. When I was in training to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, one of the inoculations we were given was for Yellow Fever. I remember it clearly, because it was handled differently from all the other shots we got.

Usually, we would be lined up, with medical personnel on both sides, and given 3 or four shots in each upper arm and each buttock. Then we would go on a hike. Initially, the hikes were 10 miles in a day, gradually increasing to the final hike of the training period of 25 miles.

However, the day we got the Yellow Fever shot, we got only the one shot. What the?? and then we were given the rest of the day as free time. Wow! free time in a training schedule that usually ran 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. We eagerly ran back to our quarters and began to pull out books and games and stuff to enjoy.

An hour later the fever hit. The medical folks told us not to worry; it was just our immune systems revving up to deal with the vaccine. Easy for them to say. We were as sick as you get when you have the flu--fever, chills, nausea, the whole bit.

It only lasted for 24 hours (except for one would-be volunteer who was whisked away and we never saw her again), but I can tell you this: if the reaction to the shot was that bad, I hope with all my heart I never get the disease itself.

Yellow Fever was a killer, but the newspapers of the day refused to admit that there was an epidemic. Everyone who could afford to, left town to avoid it and the cholera.

It's quite a book. Recomended.

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