Hard to resist an opening like this one -
"Nerd wanted. Nerdette wouldn't be too bad.
Young hotshot, under thirty, 5 yrs. computer, 10 yrs, investigative exp.,
Harvard ed., no visible piercings.
Must play the computer like Horowitz played piano. Slave wages."
Such is the classified ad answered by Talba Wallis, a fabulously well-rounded 25 y.o. character created by Julie Smith for this series. Talba is an African-American New Orleans poet and computer whiz who applies for and gets the job offered by Eddie Valentino a 65 y.o. private investigator.
The paternal like relationship that develops between them is wonderful and figures in to how they relate as co-workers. Each of the main characters have interesting family members that fill in the story and make the individuals real. Eddie Valentino has a daughter who is a lawyer - "She wasn’t a lawyer for nothing. She had things to say, she was going to say them— usually two or three times."
The main characters also struggle with depression each in his own way. What is wonderful about Julie Smith's writing is the succinct and beautiful way she can say so much. "He decided against lunch; it would only prolong life." While Talba had "Sullenness enveloped her like a thick, sticky cloud." and then "A flood of sadness had enveloped her and invaded her and was now flailing for expression. And the flood of sadness was an old friend."
I came to love the characters, their families, and New Orleans through the great writing in this book.