FAT TUESDAY by Earl W. Emerson


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Emerson's series for Seattle shamus Thomas Black, Edgar-nominated in paperback, now moves into hardcover--with an intriguing, convoluted case that's consistently enlivened by bursts of colorful action and by Black's wry, lean narration. Via his friendship (intense yet platonic) with lawyer Kathy Birchfield, Black--a likably tough/tender sort--finds himself investigating the bloody murder of computer-ware exec Fred Pugsley. The obvious suspect: Mrs. Pugsley, found catatonic, clutching the murder weapon, near the body of Mr. P. (an incorrigible philanderer). But Black becomes convinced that the killing is connected to Pugsley's firm, Micro Darlings--and to a scandal five years back, when Pugsley's partner, Erie Castle, left the company after being accused (with hefty evidence) of child molestation. Was Pugsley murdered, in fact, because--unsure of Castle's guilt--he was re-investigating the incident? And why is Castle himself (who lost his wife and custody of his kids) also an apparent victim of attempted murder? To answer these questions, Black quizzes all the slick Micro Darlings executives (and their spouses), discovers another corpse (Mrs. P., a fake suicide), and barely escapes from encounters with snipers, crossbows, and an immense bull. The mystery's solution is only so-so; the jokey/sweet relationship between Black and Kathy verges on the cutesy here and there. But this is above-average shamusing overall--with vividly sketched characters at every turn, crisp dialogue, and enough visceral tension to balance the more thoughtful, nuanced moments.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow