This one was my favorite by Emerson
This out of print book is the fifth mystery from the Shamus Award-winning author of Fat Tuesday and Nervous Laughter (the first in the Mac Fontana Series). 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.
Mac Fontana is being conned -- by the mayor, by the heavy-hitter developer, by the weight-training girlfriend, and just about everyone who seems to be a "good guy". Then there's the dog ...
I recently discovered Earl Emerson through another author and have enjoyed the Mac Fontana and Thomas Black Mysteries.
Mac Fonatana is a widower, father, fireman,arson investigator, and sometime sheriff. The setting is a very small town with several recurring characters who add humor and frustration to the plot. There is always a mystery / crime to solve while Mac tries to balance work, loss, and his personal life.
From the back cover: "Mac Fontana is content being fire chief in a small town in Washington State. He's not looking for trouble-and he's certainly not looking for murder. But, as acting deputy sheriff, that's exactly what he finds.
The investigation of the gruesome death of a firefighter on the nearby Seattle force brings Mac into the red-hot center of big-city corruption and greed. As powerful tempers blaze and the intrigues flare up, solving the crime may just cost Mac his life."
Fire Chief Mac Fontana has agreed to temporarily assume the role of acting Deputy Sheriff of Staircase, Washington. But his investigation into the torture-slaying of a lone-wolf Seattle firefighter is dragging him into a deadly inferno of lies, corruption and murder that could reduce Mac's carefully protected world to smoldering embers.