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In the Heat ()

Miles Young--"former world-ranked contender in two divisions, former North American Boxing Federation middleweight champion, the best prize-fighter Belize has ever produced"--has just lost what is likely the final fight of his solid but unspectacular career. Now he faces the prospect of a retirement he can't afford, with no other marketable skills, and a young daughter he's raising on his own. The promoter of the last bout doesn't have the money he's owed, but does have a proposition. Isabelle Gilmore, a local businesswoman, needs someone to track down her teenage daughter, who's run off with the son of a powerful former Belizean cop and $10,000 in cash:
"[E]xplain to me now why I'm the man for the job?"

Isabelle said, "Three reasons. First, because you're Miles Young, national sports star. Like I said, Belize is a small place. Word gets around that you're looking for Joel Tablada, he might just show his face. Like, why is the boxer Miles Young looking for me? Second, because you're Miles Young, a boxer, and Joel is a personal trainer at the new gym out on Northern Highway. A boxer seeking the services of a personal trainer? That's reasonable to assume, nothing strange about that. Third, because you're Miles Young, and let's be honest, your name commands a certain respect on the streets."
Miles is reluctant but when the promoter offers him a fight with a former superstar champ, Hakeem Wahed, who is making a comeback, the job suddenly looks more attractive.

Boxers and ex-boxers have always been a staple of film noir--Body and Soul; The Killers; The Set-Up; 99 River Street; On the Waterfront; Fat City; The Harder They Fall; even Pulp Fiction--and hard-boiled private eye novels--like Robert Parker's Spenser series and Robert Randisi's Miles Jacoby books. The loneliness and brutality of the ring and the likelihood that a few too many blows to the head have impaired their judgment makes them naturals for the genre. So Ian Vasquez's choice of heroes is a nod to the classics. And the missing youths, cache of money, crooked cops, and brutal hoods are all familiar. But the exotic setting and Miles's single fatherhood are quite distinctive. The threat of violence always looms, but when bad things happen to Miles they're almost comic, including a genuinely funny incident where he gets a bad haircut. All in all, while Mr. Vasquez pays homage to his forebears he also manages to keep things fresh and Miles is an engaging, if stubborn and sometimes slow-witted, character. The wrap-up is a tad pat, as it seems Miles will escape further trouble despite actions that most have upset some real hard guys, but we like him well enough not to mind his good fortune and if the loose ends set up a subsequent adventure all the better. For now, it's a fine debut novel for Ian Vasquez.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Private Eyes
Ian Vasquez Links:

    -AUTHOR BLOG: College of Crime
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Ian Vasquez (MacMillan Books)
    -FACEBOOK PAGE: Ian Vasquez
    -GOOGLE BOOKS: Ian Vasquez
    -VIDEO: Ian Vasquez on Lonesome Point (YouTube)
    -PROFILE: Belizean American launches first novel at House of Culture (Kendra Griffith, 6/18/08, Channel 5 Belize)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat by Ian Vasquez (William McKeen, St. Petersburg Times)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Bill Ott, Booklist)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Macarena, ExpatBelize)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (PATRICK HUGUENIN , NY Daily News)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Hank Wagner, Mystery Scene)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Tim Davis, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of In the Heat (Joann Vicarel, Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Lonesome Point by Ian Vasquez (David L. Beck, St. Petersburg Times)
    -REVIEW: of Lonesome Point (Oline H. Cogdill, Orlando Sun-Sentinel)
    -REVIEW: of Lonesome Point (ESTHER HAMMER, The Tampa Tribune)

Book-related and General Links: