Wilhelmina Jenkins's Reviews > In the Night of the Heat

In the Night of the Heat by Blair Underwood
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Feb 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: african-american, mystery-suspense-crime
Read from February 07 to 09, 2010

I'll begin this review with a cautionary note: if you would find a fairly graphic, lengthy sex scene between two mutually consenting adults to be off-putting, do not read this book. The protagonist of this book has a past - as an unemployed actor, he became a sex worker, providing "services" for wealthy women in Hollywood. He has left that life behind, but sex is definitely a part of this book.

If you are still interested in this book, you will probably enjoy it as much as I did. This is the second book in the Tennyson Hardwick series (the first is Casanegra), and I think that it is even better than the first. This is a well plotted, beautifully written mystery that spans two generations of prominent African American families. We are introduced to the story through the son of one of the families, a football player who has just been acquitted in an OJ-style murder case. When another death occurs, Hardwick is asked to discretely look into the case. As he investigates, he finds that the roots of the present crimes reach back into the experiences of another football team a generation earlier. The plot is compelling, complex, and suspenseful.

The Tennyson Hardwick series is co-written by Blair Underwood, Steven Barnes, and Tananarive Due. Due is one of my favorite authors and Barnes and Due are husband and wife. In an epilogue, Barnes explains that these books are written the way they are as a response to all of the Hollywood movies in which even the highest level of male Black actors are never allowed to be involved in sex scenes and female Black actors are only allowed in scenes with non-black men. (It's true - think about it!) I understand his point, and I'm looking forward to another book in this solid series.

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Wilhelmina Jenkins It's the murder of the white wife of a black football player for which he was charged and acquitted, Abigail. But that's really just the jumping-off point for the book. The larger story is much more complex and interesting!

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