Catfish Cafe Mass Market Paperback – Sep 7 1999
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Former firefighter Earl W. Emerson writes two very interesting mystery series: one about small-town Washington State fire chief Mac Fontana and another about Seattle private investigator Thomas Black. All of Emerson's stories are haunted by ghosts from his characters' pasts, and none more so than this latest, where Emerson sends Black on a long, tangled, and not always obvious search through the roots of the African American family of his former police partner, Luther Little. Little's daughter has disappeared, leaving behind a car full of bullet holes, a dead young white man, and nine birth certificates that raise lots of troubling questions about fraud and parental responsibility. As Black grapples with ancient crimes and current human failure, his sharp and sexy lawyer wife, Kathy Birchfield, is--as always--on hand to keep him focussed. Other Thomas Black books in paperback: Deception Pass, The Million-Dollar Tattoo, Nervous Laughter. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Emerson's works, consistently fast-paced, moving and richly evocative of the Pacific Northwest, often create more questions than they answer. In this 11th in the Thomas Black series (Deception Pass, 1997), the roots of the mystery stem from old secrets haunting the extremely dysfunctional extended family of Black's former police partner, Luther Little. Little, an African American, asks Black, a PI, to help him locate his missing daughter, Balinda, and find out who killed the young white man found dead in her car. Black is sure the answers lie in the family's past. In a number of beautifully written scenes, Emerson employs dialogue and description expertly to reveal character: the victim's fianc?e preventing his father from robbing her of all her mementos; Black interviewing the dead man's astute, dying mother; Balinda's grandmother asking Black puzzles to avoid answering his questions. The story, which includes another murder, is tantalizing, complex and engrossing, fueled by themes of prejudice and parental responsibility that cut across race, class and gender. By its conclusion, Little's remaining family members are drawn closer together, but the solution, which lies in the present, not the past, will likely leave readers more interested in the mysteries and variety of human behavior than in explications.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Not as bad as some reviews, but certainly not on par with some of the other reviews. The idea that the bad reviews are due to a reader not wanting to know that much about a 'poor African American family' is ridiculous, totally unsupported by the reviews themselves, and makes me wonder if Al Sharpton is posting reviews here now. Do not make the mistake of thinking that, because race is major factor in this novel, that that alone should somehow make the work exempt from an accurate review.
In his eleventh outing, Thomas Black remains one of the most interesting sleuths of the nineties. His latest novel, CATFISH CAFE, is a very good who-done-it, that reads even better as a family saga. The support cast, who are mostly Luthor's family, is a great ensemble. Especially fun to read about is grandma and her use of puzzles to simultaneously dodge and answer Thomas' inquiries. Shamus Award winning Earl Emerson is the emperor of the Northwest who-done-it and anyone who has not tried one of his novels is missing out on a fabulous treat.
In some parts of the novel, I found it difficult to track who was saying what because the thoughts and/or actions of one character were contained in the same paragraph as the dialogue of another character. A small complaint, maybe. But when carried on over a few pages, this style of dialogue writing is unnecessarily confusing and cramps the novel's flow.
I may read another Emerson book, to give him a fair "shake", but it will be much lower on my reading list.
Most recent customer reviews
I've read all of Emerson's books, and this one just wasn't quite as great as the rest of them. It's hard to find fault with this writer since his protagonist is such a likeable... Read morePublished on Oct. 6 2000
PI Thomas Black, an ex-Seattle cop, is asked by his old partner, Luther, for help finding Luther's daughter. Read morePublished on June 14 2000 by Meg Brunner
This was the first of the Thomas Black mysteries that I have read and I am hooked. Emerson keeps the action going in each chapter and the ending was unpredictable. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2000 by Steve 1962