Mysteries, thrillers, home of PI Thomas Black

After an absence of ten years, Thomas Black is back in 2009’s Cape Disappointment.

Here’s what some reviewers have said about this book:

The Seattle Times: “Fast moving and entertaining . . . Black is Back!”

Publishers Weekly:  “Conspiracy buffs should enjoy this thriller with its references to real-life events . . . while Thomas Black fans will welcome his return after a long hiatus.”

Bookloons: “An intriguing and exciting thriller.”

Here is the complete review from Booklist:

It’s been nearly a decade since Emerson’s last Thomas Black novel, and much has happened to the Seattle PI in the interim. He’s finally married longtime friend and then lover Kathy Birchfield, and the two have found a bantering Hepburn-Tracy groove, now tested by their own version of Adam’s Rib in which they find themselves working on opposite sides in Washington State’s heated senatorial election (Black doing investigative work for the Republican candidate, a former cop, while Birchfield is a key advisor to the Democratic incumbent). When a private plane crashes off Cape Disappointment near the Oregon-Washington border, the senator is killed and Birchfield is assumed dead, though her body isn’t found. Inconsolable, Black is drawn into believing a conspiracy theorist’s seemingly outlandish explanation and begins a solo investigation into what could be a massive government scheme to rig elections. Emerson makes good use of his highly charged political themes, playing on recent concern about election tampering to create an almost-believable scenario in which even a determined individual has little chance against an entrenched, quasi-governmental machine. A welcome return for a popular series. –Bill Ott

Publishers Weekly: Last seen in Catfish Café (1998), Thomas Black finds his memory playing tricks on him at the start of Emerson’s dark and disturbing 12th novel to feature the Seattle PI. As Black recuperates in the hospital after being severely wounded in an explosion, he can’t remember if his lawyer wife, Kathy Birchfield, is alive or dead. Kathy was to have been a passenger on a chartered plane, along with Sen. Jane Sheffield, that crashed into the sea with no survivors. In flashbacks, Black and Birchfield work on opposing senatorial campaigns until the crash eliminates Birchfield and the blast injures Black. Twin brothers, Elmer Snake Slezak and Bert Slezak, play key roles—Snake protects Black; Bert, a former CIA sniper and confirmed conspiracy nut, tries to persuade the PI that the plane crash was no accident. Conspiracy buffs should enjoy this thriller with its references to real-life events like 9/11 that some consider coverups, while Thomas Black fans will welcome his return after a long hiatus.

Jacket copy:


The bomb that nearly killed Thomas Black went off in a school gymnasium after a Senate candidate had spoken. Amid the carnage, Black nearly bled to death. But he survives–and enters a tunnel of dreams and hallucinations, oblivion and unconnected memories. People come and go from his hospital room. A beautiful woman kisses him. A madman’s rant echoes in his mind. Then, when Black –- widower, hero, and private investigator -– is released from the hospital, he faces the twin tragedies that have devastated his life, and the fact that his lovely wife Kathy is really gone for good.

Or is she? Thomas believes he sees Kathy -– as a passenger in a passing truck. Her cell phone, which should be on the bottom of the sea, calls his in the middle of the night. And the explanations investigators give for the plane crash just don’t make sense.

Now, step by step, Black is beginning to understand what a paranoid, alcoholic former CIA hit man has been trying to tell him about the plane crash, about the death of a reporter’s husband, about suspicious things that nobody ever gets around to questioning. Suddenly, Black is on the run, chased by mysterious people, caught in a web of personal and political lies and something even worse: a plot that is killing everyone it touches.

Brilliantly told and emotionally galvanizing, Cape Disappointment is a political thriller and a gut-wrenching tale of conspiracies -– the kind that are too crazy to believe and too deadly to ignore.

For a longer review of Cape Disappointment, try here:


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