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Louisiana Bigshot: A Humorous New Orleans Mystery; Talba Wallis #2 (The Talba Wallis PI Series) Kindle Edition

297 customer reviews

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Length: 324 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Talba Wallis, hip and happening PI, a.k.a. the Baroness Pontalba, star of the New Orleans avant garde, was first introduced in Louisiana Hotshot and returns in this deft, well-written mystery about Babalu Maya, a "healer" who wants to know if her boyfriend is cheating on her. Shortly after Talba confirms her client's suspicions, Babalu dies of a heroin overdose the police are certain is a suicide. But both Talba and Jason, Babalu's contrite and confused boyfriend, find it such an improbable scenario that he hires Talba to find out what really happened. Unraveling the mystery takes the sassy sleuth with the attitude that's bigger than she is to the small Louisiana town where Babalu was born and to the prominent, influential family that turned its back on her a long time ago. While the plot isn't much more than a routine Southern gothic, the heroine is: Talba Wallis is a lively, engaging protagonist with family secrets of her own that are revealed in a secondary plot that's much more interesting than the primary one. Smith, the author of three other series, has a real winner in this one. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

In her second outing (after 2001's well-received Louisiana Hotshot) from Edgar-winner Smith, Talba Wallis, whose day job as a newly licensed PI never interferes with her nighttime gig as the performance poet called the Baroness de Pontalba, finds herself entangled in the dirty laundry of white folks' family secrets when she sets out to prove that her friend Babalu's death was murder, not suicide and not a drug overdose. In the end, the snarl of old family skeletons, corrupt politicians and racial ugliness becomes too serpentine for its own good, and the solution to the murder is vaguely unsatisfying. Far more appealing are the strongly drawn characters. The interplay between the young black woman and her much older white boss, a man who admires her brain and her fearlessness but would never let on, is warm and respectful; Smith nicely plays it against the very real and very dangerous racial divide that Talba encounters when she investigates her friend's smalltown past. The fiercely independent Talba still lives with her no-nonsense mama, Miz Clara, who makes the best fried chicken known to man and thinks Talba's way of dressing for poetry readings makes her look like "some fool who's been to one too many rummage sales." But Talba, as her sweet schoolteacher boyfriend never fails to remind her, is every inch a baroness. She's also a fine poet, and one of the delights of the book is that Smith lets us peek inside the mind and heart of a poet at work, revealing the process as well as the result.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 784 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: booksBnimble Mysteries Thrillers and Suspense (January 16, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 16, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A6RRH1C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,663 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I first knew I wanted to be a writer at seven, knew it was mysteries I'd write at 12, was desperate to win the Edgar at 13, but became a journalist to...well...keep from starving till I had the courage to actually try it. I had a great time and learned more than ten colleges could have taught as a reporter for first the New Orleans Times-Picayune and later the San Francisco Chronicle. Finally, I wrote six or seven mysteries (I've lost count!) over a period of eight years, to absolutely no avail, and was about to give up when I made my first sale. DEATH TURNS A TRICK was my first published book, and the Rebecca Schwartz series was born. I later added a second San Francisco series, plus two in New Orleans, and guess what? My first New Orleans book, NEW ORLEANS MOURNING, won the Edgar for Best Novel.

So some dreams come true! Boy, it was hard, and it took forever, but mine actually did. I'm still pinching myself. After wanting something so much and finally getting it, who would have thought I'd turn to something else after twenty-one books? (That's right, twenty-one not counting a non-fiction one on writing itself. So, twenty-two, really.) My whole identity was writing. But along came ebooks! Suddenly a gigantic opportunity opened up. I realized I could be a publisher myself---I could help other people achieve their own dreams. I couldn't help it, I got the publishing bug. Bad.

In 2010, I founded, a digital publishing company that focused at first on video-enhanced ebooks, but now not so much enhanced as just great quality---and, as you might imagine, with an emphasis on mysteries. So far, we've published eight authors (including me). It's been a treat to learn to function in another whole world and it's been incredibly rewarding to be able to help other writers, to bring back people's backlists, and to discover new, exciting talent.

Check out some of our terrific authors--Patty Friedmann, Marika Christian, Tony Dunbar, Anneke Campbell, Whitney Stewart, and Lee Pryor. Coming soon: mystery authors Greg Herren, Liz Zelvin, Shelley Singer, and Mickey Friedman.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sherrie Martin on September 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When New Orleans PI Talba Wallis does a pre-marital background check on her friend Babalu Maya's fiance, things quickly go from bad to worse. The fiance is a cad, but Babalu seems to have other, darker problems on her mind. Yet, when Babalu turns up dead, it is none other than the fiance who believes she was murdered and hires Talba to look into it.
Talba immediately runs into a roadblock when she finds that Babalu Maya doesn't seem to exist. Following a trail which eventually leads to Clayton, Louisiana, Talba keeps digging. People in Clayton aren't talking, however. Refusing to give up, Talba and her boss, Eddie Valentino, both put their lives on the line to learn the murky secrets the town is hiding.
Talba Wallis's new adventures far surpass her last one. I hope Julie Smith hasn't killed off her Skip Langdon series but, if such is the case, Talba is a more than worthy successor. The atmosphere in this fast-paced tale is earthy and real. The dialogue is crisp, the writing is superior, and the plot is strong. If you haven't yet discovered the world of Talba Wallis, a/k/a the Baroness Pontalba, treat yourself to this book. It's definitely a winner.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Tryon on October 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Young women starting out as PIs start cheap and often finish early in the mystery fiction business -- but hope that Baroness de Pontalba, a/k/a Talba Wallis will be around for many more pleasurable reads. She has more prickles than a porcupine and apparently less fear than Zeus in solving mean, bitter problems. Her personality glints like silver as she dances between personal and business tragedy; underestimate her, and you're the one playing the fool's gold.
This is a forceful, beautifully written story that, in all likelihood, will cast you as a stranger in a strange land. But you will probably not be able to put down the book and chances are you will also be unable to untangle the strands of mystery much before the final acts play out. It's probably too complex, or they would ruin the delicious ruminations of the Baroness on the other characters, but there ought to be a movie here. Just read the book. It's hard to imagine a movie subtle and strong enough to capture both dynamic action and the tension between emotion and thought.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Angela Henry on August 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Even the simplest of tasks seem to land Private Eye/Poet, Talba Wallis, in big trouble in Julie Smith's, LOUISIANA BIGSHOT. ... Julie Smith successfully blends mystery and social commentary as Talba faces big hurdles, due to the color of her skin, in her investigation of Babalu's death. Smith has created a complex character who uses wit, and sheer nerve, and not always successfully, to navigate herself through some tough situations. You can't help but root for Talba Wallis.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Caroda on January 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Talba Wallis seems to be an African-American version of Smith's Skip Langdon, and just as bull-headed. This makes her determined when sleuthing, but far more obvious when on the job. If there is a downside to this book, it is the poetry written by Wallis under her aristocratic pseudonym and colorful robes;
I think it really slows the story down; it interferes. Hence 4 stars, not 5.

However, the characters of the Wallis book are distinctly themselves, and can only but develop into familiar friends as the series goes along. eg: Wallis's curmudgeon boss, who has instinctive faith in her, is likeable, and garners empathy in his determination to ignore the color of Wallis' skin, while at the same time trying to anticipate the dilemnas into which this color inevitably lands her. He is up against not only racial difficulties with Wallis, but women's issues in his relationship with his beloved but waspish daughter. Clever triangle which allows for expression of love vs political correctness. I like him and root for him as he boxes his way out of paper bag after paper bag without losing his own integrity.

Lots of fodder here for more stories. Good for Julie Smith. Never read a book of hers which I did not enjoy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leeanne on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first Julie Smith book I read was from Amazon, a few months ago. I've read many since then. I have no idea why they are called humorous, because while they speak of life, I seldom see humor unless it in the characters themselves. Julie Smith is a compassionate writer. Her characters are so clearly drawn that you recognize even the bit parts when they show up in her other books. They are life like, They don't just show up to solve a mystery and then disappear, but continue to weave in and out of all the books like friends. Her people are sympathetic and fully developed. In a way they are police procedural, or private investigator, but they are more than that and are real and likable.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Marion VINE VOICE on September 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I loved this second fast-paced tale of the irrepressible, sassy, intelligent poetess-turned-detective, Baroness Pontalba. The plot had more surprising twists and turns than a Louisiana bayou country road...and keeps you guessing until the very end. It always cracks me up when Ms. Smith brings Detective extraordinairre, Skip Langdon into the story....she's the main character in her excellent Skip Langdon series. If you're just discovering Ms. Smith's writing, you're in for a delectable treat and a fabulous story. She's the best!
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