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4.1 out of 5 stars
Laguna Heat
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It pains me to see only 1 other review in this space. I'm fairly new to T. Jefferson Parker, but to my mind he's better than John Sandford, Jonathan Kellerman, and James Patterson, much better than Robin Cook and Patricia Cornwell, and nearly the equal of Michael Connelly. Obviously he needs some better representation. Laguna Heat is a well plotted mystery with plausible twists and ironies. The characters, especially Tom Shepard, are authentic and finely nuanced, full of human frailties and intriguing historical baggage that unfolds along with the murder investigation. This book never overwhelmed me with its power, but consistently impressed me with its competence. Not a sentence rang false. I will eagerly seek out other Parker titles, and recommend this to any fans of the mystery/detective genre.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
Having read all T. Jefferson Parker's current novels and loving them, I decided to check out his earlier stuff. Laguna Heat arrived and I started it late one afternoon. Immediately, I was drawn into the storyline; but, even more importantly, I was drawn into the mind and character of Tom Shephard. What a well-developed character Parker has given us here. So much is going on in the life of the former-LA cop...trying to live with a righteous shooting from his early-cop days and coping with a new position and murder spree in his hometown, quiet Laguna Beach. And all his father's old friends are involved someway. Too, he is dealing with the heartbreak of divorce, hanging on for dear life. This was just a great read and one I'm so glad I found. I'm only sorry that some of the other early Parkers are out of print and I can't get them. T. Jefferson Parker has become one of my favorite mystery writers and I look forward to starting his latest, Red Light.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I actually purchased this book by accident at a used book sale. After I started reading it I couldn't stop. Mr. Parker's writing style let the whole story portray in my mind. I could picture the characters and even smell the salt air. Sometimes I would stop and read an entire paragraph over because it was so beautifully poised. The plot has some twists and turns and about three quarters of the way through I had a hunch on solving the mystery and I had to keep reading to see if I was right, but there was a surprise at the end. The only flaw that I saw was from a legal standpoint. In real life it would not have ended this way because of the way our justice system works. I won't give it away but it has to do with correct police interrogation procedure. Of course I'm probably just being picky because of having a law background. After I finished this book I went out and purchased "Little Saigon" and "Pacific Beat". I think that this book would make a heck of a good movie. Keep on pumping out the books Mr. Parker and I'll keep reading them.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
T. Jefferson Parker is one of today's very best crime writers. Plotting, character, dialogue, all play out in a balanced and believable fashion in any given novel. "Blue Hour," "Silent Joe," take your pick. Parker is the kind of writer that makes other "name" writers jealous, simply because he's better. It's a shame his work has not found its way to the screen. But even fine writers have their beginnings, and for Parker "Laguna Heat," is his.
"Laguna Heat," is not a bad novel. In some ways it's a good one, but it is a first novel. Tom Shephard, the police detective hero of the novel is in an incomplete man. He has his demons - perhaps too many, since it seems like some sort of noir checklist. One demon in particular, his anguish over shooting a teenager, seems way overblown, given that same teenager had just opened up another cop with a knife. Then there's the divorce, the drinking, the dominating father, the missing mother, the murderer of the missing mother, and a whole can of Laguna worms, etc. Despite all of this, or because of all of them, Shephard's damaged state never really translates into a character one could care much about. In constast, look at "Joe," from "Silent Joe," another damaged figure of good, who is complex and cared for by the reader. More interesting are the various secondary characters, though even they have, by novel's end, a "stock" feel to them.
But "Laguna Heat" does have its moments. The best is perhaps Shepherd's night time swim in the ocean with his lover, Jane Algernon. This is a gorgeous passage, and alone make "Laguna Heat" worth a read. It also reveals perfectly the dark romanticism of noir:
"He kicked hard and pulled deeply to keep up with her, careful to leave a few meters between them.. Past the waves he felt the bottom falling away and knew that even a few yards from shore the ocean was much the same as it was many miles out: strong, unfathomable, unforgiving of all that is not part of it. And just as the first lappings of the waves had seemed to draw little parts of him away with them, he could now feel larger portions leaving too. He recalled that he had been married once but wasn't sure to whom. He believed that he rented an apartment somewhere in the town behind them but couldn't quote an address. He knew he was a cop on a murder case but couldn't remember the specifics. He wondered why he had ever quit surfing. But the regret soon vanished. He didn't know why and didn't want to know. Was it possible to continue this way to Hawaii, or perhaps to an uninhabited tropical island where he and Jane could live on fish and fruit, procreate, wildly, found a race? It seemed a possibility.
Then ahead of him, Jane Algernon's face collected in the darkness and it was smiling.
"Are you scared? The rocks are under us, not far," she said. Shephard could feel the churning of her legs as she kicked to stay afloat. Her hair was slicked back and the bones in her face caught the moonlight."
The above is just a portion from an extended passage. And it's such moments as these in "Laguna Heat," that signal, like lightning flashes, the writer Parker is to become.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very good mystery. Tom Shephard has come back home to be the lead detective in Laguna Beach. People keep getting killed and no one knows why. Tom figures out what the person looks like but still no why. The mystery goes back to events of many years ago. He keeps digging and comes up with the answers. The ending is very surprising. Can't say much more without giving away who the killer is. I think you will like this book if you like a fast moving book that will hold your attention and keep you guessing. Even though it is good I liked Blue Hour and Red Light better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Laguna Heat is a decent 1st book that I'm sure has a primary goal of setting the background for the next book.

The main character (Tom Shepard) is strong, intelligent, sensitive and an average man who is going through one emotional struggle after another. He's divorced and struggling to make it as a private investigator. His first case has him reassessing his life.

This story has semi-transparent story-lines with a few twists and turns along the way. Character development is very good, almost to the point of over doing it. Some twists and turns seem like detours that are unnecessary and only served to fill up blank pages. All are typical errors from a 1st time writer, but Parker does so without leaving a bad taste in the reader's mouth.

If the strong character development wasn't as excellent as indicated, this would be the only book many would read. Having Tom Shepard as a normal guy-next-door type has the reader anticipating his next escapades.

I'd recommend reading it quickly and moving on to the next book in this series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Laguna Heat is Parker's first novel, which is my favorite read--first novels. I did this backwards, becoming a fan of Parker, then searching out his first work. Yep, maybe his best. Fitzgerald said of Hemingway: Something happened to him when he was twenty, he wrote about it, and then just wrote the same story over and over. Well, that's true of most fiction writers and it's true of Parker. (That's why I like First novels - they usually represent what it is an author has to offer. Many people (most?) find an author they like and keep reading him or her - essentially reading the same thing over and over. That says much more about the reader and the publishing world, than it does about the content of the work. Okay, I'll get off my high horse.) Before reading Laguna Heat, I read Hardball by Paretsky. Funny, both are novel's about crimes that took place forty years ago. Heat takes place in SoCal, HB in Chi-town. Heat was Parker's first novel and written in 1985. HB is Paretsky's latest. Parker was the same age as the protagonist, Laguna PD detective Tom Shephard, when he wrote the book and grew up in the locale. Paretsky is close to her protagonist's age, V.I. Warshawski, and grew up in Chicago. Parker's writing captivated me. He describes the beach towns, the scenery, and the characters accurately and poetically. (I was there often.) It's 1985 and everyone smokes and drinks a lot.
Parker's plot line is so interesting, however, that I often struggled to read the descriptive narration because I wanted to turn the page and find out what happened. That's some good writing. To Fitzgerald's point: Yes, the themes in Parker's novels are the same as are the characters. Protagonist Shephard is Silent Joe is Charles Hood. The women (love objects) are all similar. The family histories are similar. Yes, it is the same story told over and over. "Manly Man" (L.A. Outlaw's heroine's word for Charles Hood) solves crimes that involve his father, corruption, and ambiguous, powerful men; has issues with his mother (dies prematurely), loses and finds and loses - strong, independent, beautiful lovers; likes dogs, hot cars, speed (the driving kind) guns (but not killing), children, and drink. Questions authority and is not particularly intellectual, a somewhat bemused personality is he. It's good stuff.(less) "
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It can when it's as well written as this one. Nothing happens that shouldn't; everything that should happen, does. This is one of the best first books that I've read. There is an inevitability to events, but it's not routine. It's just the way things should be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This story had a distinct flavor of happenings in the '50's. Flash forward to the '80's for the rest of the story. (no cell phones!) Author has a lyrical way of describing emotions. Tom Shepard is a tortured detective who is trying to get his life together after a divorce and a questioned shooting at his old job. A move back to his childhood home in Laguna finds him thrust into a couple of recent murders that need his skills to solve. You can run but you can't hide and some of his childhood's distress and loss brings him face-to-face with painful solutions. If you like well written cop stories with surprises, this one will not disappoint.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2013
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
Grew up near Laguna, spent a lot of time there. Loved the area. Read this book lots of years ago and remembered it diffently than I found it to be this time. Thought it was "overwritten" and was, in the main, disappointed. Still, I'm glad I stuck with it because it was an "interesting" story per se, and wanted to know what happened in the end. And it was fun reading about the places I was familiar with too.
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