Vanishing Smile by Earl Emerson

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Synopsis

Earl Emerson, author of The Portland Laugher and other novels featuring Seattle private eye Thomas Black, has been hailed by Aaron Elkins as "a writer's writer--a master of witty dialogue; clever, complex plotting; and lucid, meaty prose in the best tradition of American crime fiction." Now, in The Vanishing Smile, a fateful, fatal encounter on a rain-swept highway throws Black into a deadly investigation.
Marian Wright is an amateur sleuth in the employ of two attractive young women eager to catch up with their no-account ex-lovers. Spry and seventyish, Marian has all the resourcefulness of a professional gumshoe, and the relentlessness of a woman with a score of her own to settle. When Marian's investigation ends abruptly and ferociously--with Thomas Black and his estranged friend Kathy Birchfield as eyewitnesses--Thomas has a new case on his hands.
Picking up the pieces of Marian Wright's search for her clients' rogue boyfriends, Thomas encounters a network of people--from ex-cons to prostitutes to other private investigators--all webbed together by a chilling common thread. It's a discovery that speaks volumes about the zealousness of Marian's manhunt, and even suggests a monstrous reason for her sudden death.
Equally monstrous is an unknown, baseball-wielding assailant who seems hell-bent to ensure that the investigation stays closed. But Black doesn't need a head-bashing to grasp the violent, virulent implications behind Marian Wright's death. And readers don't need to look further than The Vanishing Smile for the red-hot action and white-knuckle suspense that have become Earl Emerson's trademarks.
 

About Earl Emerson

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Earl Emerson was born July 8, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington. He is the author of the very popular Mac Fontana series as well as the Thomas Black detective series. He won the Shamus Award in 1985 for Poverty Bay, his second novel in the Thomas Black series. He was again nominated for a Shamus for his novel The Vanishing Smile in 1996 (another in the Thomas Black series). Emerson's writing is described as vivid with witty dialog and complex but impeccably credible plots. Emerson remains a lieutenant with the Seattle Fire Department (his Mac Fontana character is a small town fire chief) and lives in North Bend, Washington.
 
Published January 6, 2014 by Ballantine Books. 320 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Though the histories of Marian and her two clients keep intersecting in unnerving ways, Marian's search for a ``tree of death'' tracing the course of the HIV infection backward from Chuck through a daisy chain of sex partners is the primary focus here--and a mordant one it is, with nearly everyon...

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Publishers Weekly

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In his eighth adventure (following The Portland Laugher), Seattle PI Thomas Black accompanies lawyer Kathy Birchfield to a mysterious meeting with a client in the mountains on a rainy night.

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