cover image Black Hearts and Slow Dancing

Black Hearts and Slow Dancing

Earl Emerson. William Morrow & Company, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07533-0

This is the fifth mystery from the Shamus Award-winning author of Fat Tuesday and Nervous Laughter. Unwillingly substituting for the sheriff of Staircase, a town in Washington, Mac Fontana decides the job is more attractive when alluring April Smith asks him to locate her missing lover, Steve Zajac. The search ends with Fontana finding Zajac's corpse and losing April, whom he traces to Seattle where the dead man had been a fire fighter. It's easy to get a lead on April, whose real name is Sumner, but hard and dangerous to investigate powerful citizens who have hired guns ready to kill anyone threatening their profits from arson and other crimes. As Fontana closes in on the suspects, he and April fall into the hands of a vicious couple, creating a crisis stunningly handled by an expert storyteller. A gripping mix of tensions and humor, the novel is enhanced by background material gleaned from Emerson's experiences as a lieutenant with the Seattle Fire Department. (February 24)