A young woman named Amelia comes to New Orleans in search of her missing sister, Muriel. She stays with her distracted aunt Lois and young niece. With the help of Lois's neighbor, a run-down, retired private-eye named Bill, Amelia focuses on the only clue to Muriel's disappearance: a computer with a wiped-out hard drive. With Bill's help, Amelia makes online contact with a drawling, philosophically inclined young man calling himself Eddie Mars--a man reachable only in the disembodied realm of cyberspace. It's evident that Eddie Mars has had some contact with the missing woman, but the nature of their relationship is unclear. As Amelia tries to track Eddie down, other New Orleanians enter the picture: a termite control expert holed up in a tented house; his brother, Tom, an accident-prone fireman; and a recently widowed music teacher, Hannah. There's also a trio of squatters who had been living with Muriel, and local R&B legend Ernie K-Doe, presiding over his Mother-In-Law Lounge.