Forge, Feb 2002, 23.95, 320 pp.
Hopewell, Virginia is a sleepy little town where nothing ugly ever happens and race relations seem to be fine. Sheriff A.G. Farrell had planned to stay in the big city but when war broke out, he was asked to serve a term for Sheriff. Twelve years later, he is still the sheriff although he doesn't wear a uniform or carry a badge. He has gotten into a routine and lives up to the town's expectations of him.
A.G.'s complacency is about to be shattered by the scandalous murder of Captain Fitzgerald, a soldier stationed at Ft. Lee. With just a little digging, the sheriff learns that Private Carbone's wife was having an affair with the captain and that the enlisted man possessed the murder weapon. Carbone is arrested for the homicide. A.G. thinks the case is wrapped up a little too neatly but before he can dig any deeper, he meets the captain's wife, a beautiful and seductive woman and begins an affair with her. The unprofessional behavior clouds his judgment so that all his future actions involving the captain's death are skewed by his desire for the lovely widow.
John A. Miller has written a complex and introspective work that reflects the social morals and values of the fifties. The key characters in TROPICAL HEAT are people that are unforgettable. Though one sub-plot add nothing to the main story line, overall the mystery is designed for the reader to see the truth right away, but cleverly executed to keep the audience's attention till the end.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner