In the Heat of the Night Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of In the Heat of the Night

Sam Wood, a policeman in the town of Wells, NC, finds the dead body of Enrico Mantoli on his routine night drive through the town. He discovers the wealthy music director's body facedown on the street, and so a murder investigation begins in this peaceful town. The police chief Bill Gillespie is not accustomed to dealing with such murder crimes; when Sam Wood finds a black man in the train station who turns out to be a homicide investigator from Pasadena, California, councilman George Endicott requests that he be used in the investigation. Virgil Tibbs, the investigator from California, is a brilliant African American who has a powerful eye of observation; he carefully scrutinizes the dead body, the scene of the crime, and possible motivations with a mind none can match in Wells. Meanwhile, Bill Gillespie, realizing that this case will determine the fate of his position, decides to let Virgil work freely under his command in order to take the final credit in the end. The first suspect, Harvey Oberst is taken in by Gillespie only to be proved innocent by Virgil Tibbs due to the fact that Harvey was left-handed; Virgil determines the murderer has to be right-handed. Sam Wood also finds personal motivation in the case by taking a keen liking to Duena Mantoli, the victim's daughter. Virgil continues to analyze the murder scene and circumstances, locate possible weapons, and talk to many in the town whose information he feels can benefit the case. At one point, a young man named Ralph brought in a possible suspect driving through the town the night of the murder, but Virgil is not convinced that the suspect is really the one. He faces stumbling blocks in the form of persistent racism and Bill Gillespie's and the town council's reluctance to let a black man solve the murder. Gillespie is doing an investigation of his own into such characters as Eric Kaufman, right-hand man of the deceased maestro, and even Sam Wood. After seeing Sam's suspicious bank records, he accuses him of murdering Mantoli (whose wallet was stolen) and throws him in jail. On top of continuing with his extensive investigations, Virgil now has to convince Gillespie Sam is innocent and refute a gold-digger's (Delores Purdy) claim that she was raped by Sam as well. The town's patience with having a black man running the murder investigation is running thin, and Virgil is forced to employ his martial arts skill in defeating two white attackers who despise his presence in the town. He solicits the help of a black minister, continues extracting information from townsfolk, and has a crucial talk with the Endicotts as to what they knew about Mantoli. After scaring Delores Purdy, an exhibitionist, into admitting the truth and proving Sam Wood innocent, Virgil requests to take a night ride with the police officer; he has narrowed down the circumstances enough to know who and where the murderer will be.
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The review of this Book prepared by Ryan Dickerson

One steamy night in the Southern town of Wells, a body is discovered on the highway. The victim is an Italian-American orchestral conductor who is involved in a plan to bring a music festival to this rural setting. The local police quickly pick up a Black stranger passing through town; only to discover that he is a homicide investigator from Pasadena named Virgil Tibbs. Despite his own racist attitudes, the chief of police is persuaded to let Tibbs try his hand at this murder investigation: if he succeeds, the local police will get the credit; and if he fails, they will have a convenient scapegoat.
The review of this Book prepared by yassmin

Chapter Analysis of In the Heat of the Night

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 55%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 15%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   very upbeat How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1960's-1970's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60%    -   80% Murder of certain profession?    -   musicians Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American    -   skilled citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   minority/women/gay rights Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   Black


United States    -   Yes The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   South Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing Amount of dialog    -   mostly dialog

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