Cover image for Help wanted : orphans preferred
Help wanted : orphans preferred
Emerson, Earl W.
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New York : Morrow, [1990]
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

Earl Emerson was born July 8, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington. He is the author of the very popular Mac Fontana series as well as the Thomas Black detective series. He won the Shamus Award in 1985 for Poverty Bay, his second novel in the Thomas Black series. He was again nominated for a Shamus for his novel The Vanishing Smile in 1996 (another in the Thomas Black series).

Emerson's writing is described as vivid with witty dialog and complex but impeccably credible plots. Emerson remains a lieutenant with the Seattle Fire Department (his Mac Fontana character is a small town fire chief) and lives in North Bend, Washington.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Emerson's Thomas Black mysteries, set in Seattle, have long been among the best in the genre. Now, with his second Mac Fontana novel, the fireman-author joins Robert Campbell, Neville Steed (see below), and a handful of others who juggle their talents between two high-quality series. As in the last Fontana novel, Black Hearts and Slow Dancing [BKL Ja 15 88], the techniques of fire fighting provide fascinating ballast for a novel that jumps from pastoral revery to bursts of grotesque violence. When a Staircase, Washington, fireman dies of arsenic poisoning, Fire Chief Fontana is forced to once again assume the additional title of acting sheriff. More killings follow, disturbing the sleepy tranquillity of the quiet Northwest town. Emerson mixes Fontana's investigative efforts with plenty of amusing diversions, including some slightly sophomoric but undeniably funny scatological humor. (Famous for outrageous showdown scenes, Emerson outdoes himself here with a shootout in which one of the combatants hides in an outhouse by burying himself in . . . well, you get the idea.) Clever plotting, engaging good guys, pretty scenery, cheap laughs, and fire-fighting lore--it all adds up to solid, unpretentious entertainment. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Emerson brings back Mac Fontana ( Black Hearts and Slow Dancing ), fire chief and part-time sheriff in a small Washington town, in a tightly written and suspenseful tale of murder and corruption. One of Fontana's men dies of poisoning, another has gunshots fired at him through his window, a third is the object of an aborted kidnapping. As the fire chief tries to sort out these seemingly unconnected events, he also find himself drawn more and more to the wife of the fire department's paramedic, an attraction that eventually leads him to the revelation of a terrible secret. The author, a Seattle fireman, writes with compelling verisimilitude about fire-fighting and unreels his plot in a distinctive, colorful style. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved