"The summer of 1833 has been one of brazen heat and brutal pestilence, as the city is stalked by Bronze John--the popular name for the deadly cholera epidemic that tests the healing skills of doctor and voodoo alike. Benjamin January's Paris medical training keeps him all night long with the dying at Charity Hospital. Then his work as a music teacher takes him out again into the fetid, empty midday streets. Empty except for Cora Chouteau, a dark-skinned plantation waif come to town in search of her lover, sold in slavery to one of its prominent families. Though January's certain she's a runaway, he agrees to try to pass a message to the man she seeks. Soon, however, he learns that Cora is accused of murdering her lecherous master, Otis Redfern, and poisoning his wife almost to death. And of stealing five thousand dollars and a pearl necklace. Yet it seems that Emily Redfern herself, iron-willed and socially ambitious, had cause to wish her profligate husband dead. And Cora, too--or so the girl insists.... Before Ben can unpick one story from the other, Cora disappears into the torrid night."