A Talba Wallis Mystery
By Julie Smith
Forge/Tom Doherty Associates - August 2002
ISBN: 0765300591 - hardcover
Contemporary/ Suspense/ Private Investigator

Reviewed by: Barbara Buhrer, MyShelf.Com
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Talba Wallis is now a licensed private investigator. Her mentor and boss, Eddie Valentino, is constantly dismayed at Talba's methods. At night Talba becomes the Baroness dePonta, who reads her poems at restaurants. Talba is involved in an accident and hurts her back. She seeks relief from her healer, Babalu Maya, who asks Talba to investigate her fiancé who she believes is cheating. Talba informs her of the truth, and a day later Babalu is found dead of an apparent overdose.

The fiancé hires Talba to clear his name. Talba traces Babalu to her hometown of Clayton where the past rears its ugly racist head. A grisly attack on Babalu years ago implicates her family with a cover-up which involves a political candidate.

Talba is also involved in trying to find her young stepsister and with trying to come to terms with her pregnant sister-in-law who feels herself above Talba.

This is a provocative private investigator: black, feisty, savvy and beautiful, who doesn't hesitate to venture into white territory where she stands out because of her color. Talba is computer knowledgeable as opposed to Valentino who prefers practical experience to computer-generated information. The repartee between him and Talba is witty and amusing.

The plot is well-constructed with enough questions to keep the reader in doubt. The characters are well-developed with family relationships presented in depth. The racism and its repercussions are realistically depicted.

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