Rookie detective and New Orleans native Mademoiselle Francesca Dumas is a quadroon, a particular caste of African American women who are sought by wealthy white men. At age eighteen in the second year of the American Civil War, she is the concubine of New Orleans banker, Joachim Buisson, and leads a sheltered life of elegant gowns, lace, and lavish balls—until a bullet shatters her dream world.
While awaiting the arrival of the Union Navy among a throng gathered atop a Mississippi River levee April 25, 1862, Francesca’s lover is shot dead by her side. Rain-soaked and blood-stained Francesca vows revenge. Francesca’s passionate desire for retribution drives her into a new life as a woman sleuth. Playing detective to solve a murder mystery is far from the role of a woman in 1862 New Orleans—especially, a woman who perceives herself to be African American but appears to be white.