Weekend Reads: In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the NightIn the Heat of the Night by John Dudley Ball

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Color me inattentive, but I only recently noticed that one of my all-time favorite films was based on a novel. “In The Heat of the Night” is the first in a series of books featuring African-American detective Virgil Tibbs.

The book is somewhat different from the film in details, e.g., Tibbs is from Pasadena, and the action takes place in Wells, South Carolina … a much smaller place than Sparta, Mississippi, where the film is set. Also, rather than a major construction job, the economic focus is on a classical music festival that will bring large jobs to the town; the murder victim is Maestro Mantoli, the conductor.

Other particulars remain the same, with false accusations, racial prejudice, and eventual grudging admiration on all sides of the character spectrum.

What I particularly loved about the book was that, unlike the film, we have the opportunity to be inside the heads of Tibbs, Sheriff Bill Gillespie, and Officer Sam Woods, the three principal characters. The book was well-written and tightly constructed; I enjoyed it immensely.

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