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In the Heat    by Ian Vasquez order for
In the Heat
by Ian Vasquez
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

When the highly recommended In the Heat opens, readers are introduced to Miles Young, a thirty-five year old prize fighter who lives in Belize City. When he loses to a Mexican fighter - only his third loss as a professional boxer - Young announces, 'This is it for me. {...} I'm through.'

However, a fight promoter of dubious ethics and motivation named Manny Marchand has other ideas. First, he tells Young about a not-to-be-missed opportunity for another big-money bout that will mean $30,000 for the nearly over-the-hill pugilist.

There is, however, a catch. If Young wants the fight, he must also take on a different kind of job (and pull down $6,000, which would be another badly needed paycheck): Marchand's close friend Isabelle Gilmore wants Young to find Marchand's seventeen-year old daughter Rian who has stolen $10,000 from her mother and then presumably run off with Joel Tablada, the twenty-five year old son of one of Belize's most influential and corrupt men, the former police chief Marlon Tablada.

Unwilling to get involved in what he senses is little more than a messy family problem but seduced by the potential for significant financial rewards (which will help Young take better care of his three-and-a-half year old daughter Lani), Young reluctantly signs on to becoming an inexperienced but resourceful finder-of-missing-persons.

Soon, however, someone warns Young that the Marchand family has a rather disreputable past, but the warning comes too late. Young is quickly caught in the middle of an extremely dangerous battle between criminals who are playing for exceptionally high stakes. In spite of rapidly escalating murderous dangers, Young adopts something of a Robin Hood attitude toward everyone involved in the sordid mess. That alone, however, may not be enough to keep this prizefighter from losing everything.

And before it is all over, In the Heat becomes one of this year's most exciting thrill-rides dominated by compelling characterizations, adroit plotting, and pulse-pounding action.

Debut novelist Ian Vasquez is an avid boxing fan (which will be obvious to anyone reading In the Heat) and a copy editor at the St. Petersburg Times; raised in Belize (the setting of In the Heat) and living now in south Florida, Vasquez is a very talented writer from whom readers can hope to hear more in the future.

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