Julie Smith, Author LOUISIANA HOTSHOTJulie Smith< $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0058-4

Following the success of 82 Desire (1998), which introduced Talba Wallis (aka Baroness de Pontalba), the black poet/computer expert and would-be investigator returns to undertake another harrowing adventure in New Orleans. Talba is a seething mass of contradictions—assured and vulnerable, flip and sentimental, cocky and fearful. Answering an unlikely ad with her customary bravado lands her a job as assistant to aging PI Eddie Valentino. The young black female and 65-year-old Italian male have striking similarities that offset their obvious differences. Both are stubborn and strongly attached to, if somewhat alienated from, their families. Throw in a vulnerable young girl, Cassandra, being preyed on by a rap star's hanger-on identified only by the nickname "Toes," and you have a story that spans generations, races and lifestyles. As Talba and Eddie struggle to establish a working relationship and, similarly, struggle to resolve troublesome family relationships, the plight of their newest client worsens. Identifying Toes and stopping him before he eliminates Cassandra (or nosy detectives like themselves) becomes first priority. Smith generates plenty of tension as the savvy veteran and the eager novice combine their talents. But it is Smith's evocation of her beloved New Orleans and her deft exploration of her characters' intimate relationships that will lure readers to this series. (May 30)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-7653-4292-8
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