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Continuing the good work (Fat Tuesday; Poverty Bay), Emerson here sends Seattle shamus Thomas Black on a chase through Chinatown after teen runaway Todd Steebs--whose loving though uptight adoptive parents want him back, as does his worshipful younger brother Buzz. According to Buzz, Todd was obsessed with proving that Uncle Jan didn't willingly throw himself out a hotel window, and had recently started hanging out at cult author Clayton James' house--where the pretentious little man and his much older wife, former cult movie star Delores, held ""audiences."" Buzz, Black, and lawyer Kathy Birchfield track Todd to Chinatown; he runs away, dropping a packet of bills totalling $10,000. But before long, Todd also falls out a window; Clayton's factotum Carstens falls down a well; and Todd's girlfriend Sonja is scheduled to be the next fall guy. Black intervenes, however, having traced things back to a 1959 limo crash/robbery involving Uncle Jan, Sonja's dad (who ran the auto garage), and a certain almost-star who just possibly may have murdered her decades-older husband for his million-dollar stash. Melodramatic plot but told so crisply that it hooks you. Black has a love affair that strains credulity, and Kathy is too smart-mouth (and ever so dazzingly wise). But the rest are first-rate characters--including Black, who may soon replace Spencer as the thinking woman's pinup. Another strongly told story from a hard-boiled, talented author.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1988
Publisher: Morrow