Monday, April 7, 2014

Review of Tropical Heat by John Lutz (No Exit Press, 1986)

Fred Carver has been invalided out of the police after being shot in the knee.  Living in a beachfront shack he takes long therapeutic swims in the ocean and undertakes the occasional bit of private investigation work whilst living off his compensation payout.  Edwina Talbot is pointed in his direction by his old boss, Lieutenant Desoto.  She wants him to track down her lover, Willis Davis, a time-shares salesman who seemingly committed suicide by leaping into the sea, though his body has not been found.  Carver reluctantly takes the case and it soon becomes more interesting than he anticipated, with a couple of attempts on his life and a growing attraction to Edwina.

Tropical Heat is the first Fred Carver book in a series of ten published between 1986 and 1996.  Carver is a somewhat reluctant private investigator who hobbles about with a cane (that doubles as a weapon) due to a gammy leg.  Set in central Florida, the story is a typical PI tale of finding a missing person who doesn’t want to be found, who has a more complex back story than originally thought, and the PI and woman hiring him becoming romantically involved.  Whilst there are a number of action sequences as Carver tangles with a deadly gang, the tale felt more like an episode of The Rockford Files than Miami Vice; more small screen than big screen.  It was an interesting enough read, but never really fully captured the imagination.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that I simply didn't believe in the fledgling romance and the way in which Carver engineers it.  The ending had a reasonable twist, but involved a leap of faith and an unnecessary rush in order to create a tension point.  Overall, a solid enough, run-of-the-mill start to a series.


1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks as always, Rob, for the candid and thoughtful review. I'll probably wait on this one, but I do think the setting is appealing.