Earl Emerson, author of The Portland Laugher and other novels featuring Seattle private eye Thomas Black, has been hailed by Aaron Elkins as "a writer's writer--a master of witty dialogue; clever, complex plotting; and lucid, meaty prose in the best tradition of American crime fiction." Now, in The Vanishing Smile, a fateful, fatal encounter on a rain-swept highway throws Black into a deadly investigation.Marian Wright is an amateur sleuth in the employ of two attractive young women eager to catch up with their no-account ex-lovers. Spry and seventyish, Marian has all the resourcefulness of a professional gumshoe, and the relentlessness of a woman with a score of her own to settle. When Marian's investigation ends abruptly and ferociously--with Thomas Black and his estranged friend Kathy Birchfield as eyewitnesses--Thomas has a new case on his hands.Picking up the pieces of Marian Wright's search for her clients' rogue boyfriends, Thomas encounters a network of people--from ex-cons to prostitutes to other private investigators--all webbed together by a chilling common thread. It's a discovery that speaks volumes about the zealousness of Marian's manhunt, and even suggests a monstrous reason for her sudden death. Equally monstrous is an unknown, baseball-wielding assailant who seems hell-bent to ensure that the investigation stays closed. But Black doesn't need a head-bashing to grasp the violent, virulent implications behind Marian Wright's death. And readers don't need to look further than The Vanishing Smile for the red-hot action and white-knuckle suspense that have become Earl Emerson's trademarks.