As PI stories go, The Rainy City is pretty good. Black is hewn from wherever PI characters are cookie-cut and some of the characters are a little stereotypical, but the writing is expressive and tight, the plot has the right amount of twists and turns, it clips along at a jaunty pace, with plenty of action and realistic dialogue (though occasionally it becomes a little wooden), and there is a nice blend of characters. The end was no great surprise, but then few are, although Emerson does a nice job of maintaining tension to the final few pages. I have no idea why the cover shows a sinister man wearing a clown's mask. Black's lodger does dress up as a clown at one point, but she's a beautiful young woman. The book kept me entertained on the two flights between Dallas and Seattle, thus performing its job admirably. The Rainy City is the first in a series of nine Black books and if they improve as they go along, then this is a good starting point.