Books by Earl Emerson

PRIMAL THREAT by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 29, 2008

"Shamus winner Emerson (The Smoke Room, 2007, etc.) gets a lot right here: strong characters, gripping action scenes. But the book is just too long and repetitious, and the suspense level suffers accordingly."
A crime-fiction writer ventures into James Dickey territory, but doesn't quite deliver. Read full book review >
THE SMOKE ROOM by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 31, 2005

"Emerson (Pyro, 2004, etc.), always reliable, surpasses everything he's done before with this sometimes painfully funny, occasionally poignant suspenser that adheres to its genre roots while achieving considerably more."
A good man, a skilled and dedicated firefighter, cracks his moral compass, in the best yet from the Seattle firefighter and Shamus Award-winning author. Read full book review >
PYRO by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 3, 2004

"Everything works in this engrossing story of a good man's redemptive struggle to believe in his own worth. Emerson has done fine work before (Into the Inferno, 2003, etc.), but this is his best and shouldn't be missed."
A veteran firefighter faces his unwilling kinship with the sociopaths who make his professional life so burdensome. Read full book review >
INTO THE INFERNO by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2003

"Reliable Emerson (Vertical Burn, 2002, etc.), who's fought his share of real-life fires, uncharacteristically fails to light one here."
The men of North Bend (Washington) Fire and Rescue like to kid their lieutenant about the women in his life. Read full book review >
VERTICAL BURN by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2001

"His charismatic protagonist is both believable and admirable, and if he's also a tiny bit predictable, no matter: you'll root for him anyway."
Time was when veteran Seattle firefighter John Finney was unequivocal about his feelings for his job. Read full book review >
CATFISH CAFE by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

"He's much too modest, but his 11th adventure really is lesser work from the accomplished author of Deception Pass (1997)."
Balinda Little, the daughter of Seattle p.i. Read full book review >
DECEPTION PASS by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

"The nightmare that haunts Lainie's past is so horrific that Thomas's fans will surely overlook the slapdash details of its exhumation (suspects suddenly tripping over each other in their haste to clear themselves) in his grimmest outing in years. (Author tour)"
What dire secret could make Lainie Smith, Seattle's well- heeled answer to Mother Teresa, vulnerable to blackmail? Read full book review >
THE DEAD HORSE PAINT COMPANY by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 1997

"All the characters seethe with so much anger, pain, and confusion that they make ideal suspects; it's a shame the ending has to exonerate most of them. (Author tour)"
Back east, fire chief Edgar Callahan led a charmed life. Read full book review >
THE MILLION-DOLLAR TATTOO by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

"Though it's tamed by Thomas's quirky sweetness, his ninth case (The Vanishing Smile, 1995, etc.) is hands down the wildest of them all. (Author tour)"
Waking up with his current date dead in his bed, Elmer (Snake) Slezak offers his friend, Seattle shamus Thomas Black, a unique defense: She is the latest in a long series of aliens sent to seduce Snake in order to strengthen the extraterrestrial gene pool. Read full book review >
GOING CRAZY IN PUBLIC by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 1996

"Fontana's fourth (Morons and Madmen, 1993, etc.) features droll small-town backchat and some great fires—even if too many torchers do spoil the blaze."
Despite an outbreak of arson in Staircase, Wash., it looks for a while as if the dramatic high points of fire chief Mac Fontana's summer will be a fire drill at the local nudist colony and Fontana's run-in with a pistol-packing former actress with whom gossip soon, and inaccurately, links him romantically. Read full book review >
THE VANISHING SMILE by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

"The Portland Laugher (1994), still digs deep into some painful new territory."
THE PORTLAND LAUGHER by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

"Emerson's biggest, darkest novel yet, a clangorous three- alarmer that'll leave you wound tighter than Billy Battle."
As Seattle shamus Thomas Black (Yellow Dog Party, 1991, etc.) lies in a coma waiting for his body and memory to start working again, he flashes back to the bizarre case that left him so broken: getting hired, on the recommendation of Thomas's sleazy fellow- professional Snake Slezak, by much-married Roxanne Lake and her young houseguest Jerome Johnson to tail Philip Bacon, who's been following newly freed ex-con Billy Battle, Jerome's foster brother- -who's already being tailed by Snake. Read full book review >
MORONS AND MADMEN by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 19, 1993

"Only middling for the series."
Fire Chief Mac Fontana, with a growing record as a thorough, incorruptible arson investigator (Yellow Dog Party, etc.), gets a request from Seattle firefighter Diane Cooper—a plea to clear her from the accusations that she let three members of her ladder company (including her former fiancÇ) perish in the Ratt blaze. Read full book review >
YELLOW DOG PARTY by Earl Emerson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 17, 1991

"Though less than top-notch for Emerson, it's still going to give the competition—Parker and Lutz, for example—a few jealous twinges."
Detective Thomas Black, Seattle's answer to Boston's Spenser, finds a laugher of a case: four middle-aged, successful but middling unhappy guys hire him to trace, and then arrange dates with, their dreamgirls (a former high-school cheerleader; a Mariner season ticket-holder; a porn pinup; a former TV newscaster). Read full book review >
MYSTERY THRILLER

"When the plotting's not predictable, it's implausible. Emerson, whose firefighting novels (Primal Threat, 2008, etc.) brim with crackling energy and an insider's authority, misfires here."
Conspiracy, murder and dirty politics head the list of chores for private eye Thomas Black, back on the job again after a ten-year hiatus. Read full book review >