New Orleans poet/p.i. Talba Wallis (Louisiana Bigshot, 2002, etc.) gets mired in a Great Gatsby plot.

Talba’s usually uncommunicative half-sister Janessa calls desperate for help. She’s found Allyson Brown, her employer, floating in the pool of her Garden District mansion, her brow furrowed by a bullet. In the worst English this side of a rap song, she swears she didn’t do it, and that Allyson’s pet poet Rashad, who lived free of charge on the property, didn’t either. But where is he? And before he took off, did he pause to stab Allyson’s sweetie-pie daughter Cassie to death too? Talba, setting out to find Rashad, Allyson’s equally missing son Austin, and anything resembling a motive for murder, meets all the counterparts to Gatsby’s story along the way. There are married men with extramarital itches, their abused spouses, best friends who fall out, a couple of patsies, and the usual flotsam that freeloaded off Allyson, the social climber and con artist called “the girl Gatsby” by everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line. Talba’s shamus boss Eddie Valentino and his sexy lawyer daughter Angie reconnoiter biker bars, ask favors of the cops, and spar with each other while Talba concentrates on bad writing: her own, Rashad’s, and that of two others, leading to an outlandish confrontation in a college classroom.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, as you might suspect, handled the plot better, and Talba, her wardrobe, and her poetry have all seen better days.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-765-30553-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2004


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