Friday, January 15, 2016

Yellowing: "The rainy City" by Earl W. Emerson

Yellowing: The Rainy City by Earl W. Emerson, 1985, 038089517X.

I do not know where this paperback came from or how long it has been in the house. I'm guessing I bought it at some sale. Or, I may have brought it from my parent's house in Champaign. The paper is yellowing and the cover art is very '80s style. The cover reminds me of some Dashiell Hammett reprints I bought back then.

This hooked me at the start. I do not know why. Thomas Black is a former Officer with the Seattle Police Department. While Black was working as a police he shot and killed a man. Flashbacks of the shooting rendered him unable to fully do his job and Black was granted a retirement for a bad knee. For the last several years Black has been a PI.

Black drives home one rainy night after telling a client that the client's girlfriend was stepping out. Black pulls into his driveway, sees his dog on the pavement, and a man running away in the dog. Black now owns a dead dog. Emerson just lost a bunch of readers. Black ponders who is mad enough at him to bash his dog's skull.

Black lives in a house with a basement apartment. He's been renting that apartment to the same young woman for several years. The woman, Kathy, has become a good friend. Kathy and Black are close and Black is kinda interested but age and circumstance preclude sex and romance. Kathy tells Black: I had and premonition. Melissa, my old pal is in deep trouble. And look! There is an advert offering a reward to find her! Help Obi-Won Black, you're my only hope!

Black begins butting in. Kathy and Black drive to see the missing. Kathy is a sexy law student and a flake. As the reach the house Black and Kathy see Melissa's parents rushing away with Melissa's daughter. They enter the house and the husband is being pounded on by a local bad guy PI, Julius. Julius leaves and we start to learn more about the husband, Melissa and the pile of shit Black has stepped into.

Melissa's father is a physically imposing and financially powerful bully. Melissa's mother is subservient. Black talks to Melissa's aunt an hour to the north. Black finds out Melissa is in prostituting in Portland. Black's home is burgled and Kathy tied up and prepped for torture when Black comes home and scares the guy off.

More things happen and nasty stuff goes on. Black tries to figure out a murder. Black decides who to believe.

Emerson did a fine job with this. The setting is well done but Emerson gave Black a very strong voice as 1st person narrator.


Unknown said...

That whole series is good.

Barry Ergang said...

I absolutely agree with Bill. Emerson is one of the best writers of hardboiled P.I. fiction to come along in the 1980s.