“Can’t wait for the next Evanovich? Louisiana Hotshot’s Stephanie Plum with Tabasco, dawlin’.” –The Clarion Ledger
The FIRST book in the Talba Wallis series by Edgar-Award winning author Julie Smith
WANTED: HOTSHOT P.I. WITH NEAR SUPER-HUMAN SKILLS.
Confirmed grump Eddie Valentino placed the ad. Hotshot twenty-something Talba Wallis knew exactly how to answer it.
And thus was born the dynamic duo of New Orleans private detectives, one cynical, sixty-five-year-old Luddite white dude with street smarts, and one young, bright-eyed, Twenty-First century African-American female poet, performance artist, mistress of disguise, and computer jock extraordinaire. Think Queen Latifah and Danny DeVito.
In Louisiana Hotshot, their job is to hunt down a sociopath and pedophile who’s molested the fourteen-year-old daughter of their client, hangs out on the ragged edges of the rap and recording industries, and has more powerful allies than a Cabinet member.
But both detectives have unfinished business from the past—in Eddie’s case, something he deeply regrets; in Talba’s, a personal mystery, one so frightening no one will help her investigate. But she knows she won’t sleep till she solves it—and the truth will change her forever.
They were not eyes that cried, they were themselves the tears; they were the fatal tip-off that that mutilated and now aggressively armored soul needed to be kissed and made well. That the imaginary tears must be wiped away: crying, desperate eyes replaced by the carefree, corner-crinkled eyes of a man who has just been made to laugh by his beloved; or the devoted, follow-you-to-the-grave eyes of a man who has just made love to her. Or to anyone. Or to a plank with a mink-lined hole in it.
Oh, yes. Talba was not only under thirty, but well under twenty-five, and already she knew everything about eyes like that—everything except what they meant when they were underscored by velvet-soft pouches so big they needed a bra; so bloodstained, so seemingly bruised you wanted to order emergency ice.
When Eddie Valentino spoke again, interrupting her silent ocular love song, she nearly did a double take. “I’ll think about it, Ms. Wallis.”
“You’ll think about it? Here I stay up half the night to show you what I can do, and then I get here before sunrise, and you’ll think about it?”
And for the first time in the interview, sad, soulful Eddie Valentino really did smile—a broad, amused, gotcha smile. “I thought it only took you ten minutes. Hour and a half at the most.”
“I’m making a point, Mr. Valentino. I tend to exaggerate when I’m making a point. And the point is, I’m your hotshot. Who else was here before your door opened with a complete dossier on you? I mean, what’s the definition of a hotshot?”
He smiled again, “You’re a ball of fire, all right. I just gotta sleep on it, that’s all.”
“Oh. Well.” Twice Talba had made him smile. Maybe that’s what her mission was; maybe that was all she was meant to do. Of course he had to sleep on it. What was she thinking?
I’m believing my own P.R., she thought, and felt embarrassed. What did I think he was going to do? Welcome me like a long-lost