The following review was originally published on April 18th, 2012.
Private investigator Marion “Duke” Rogers can’t get anything right. Most days he wishes he’d just stayed in the SEALs. When a seedy client comes in asking Duke to find Teddie Matson, he thinks nothing of it — it’s just quick and easy money… until Teddie is murdered, and Duke is left wondering whether it’s his fault.
White Heat sucked me in right away with its noir style. You get to know Duke right away, and even though he’s a self-professed fuckup, I liked him instantly. Part of me wondered the entire time whether he killed Teddie Matson himself without remembering it, but I still liked him. Duke’s voice is very strong in the narration. Usually, I hate slang and dialect in prose because it frequently overpowers the story, but Duke’s way of talking made this story.
The plot was interesting, and full of twists and turns. Duke’s investigation felt realistic, even when he was chasing down people like a cop. The characters’ interactions, mannerisms, and dialogue also felt realistic. I fell in love with Duke, Jack, and Rita. I also loved Teddie, even though we never met her alive.
My only complaint about this novel was its lack of dialogue tags. For the most part, I could tell who was speaking on their way of talking alone, but sometimes it got quite confusing and interrupted the flow of the story; I kept having to go back and reread those long strings of dialogue to determine who said what.
White Heat is set during the days of the Rodney King riots. I liked that it had a strong historical element that heavily impacted how the characters acted toward each other, as well as impeding the investigation at times because of the involved characters’ innate prejudices. The novel explored cultural bias based on skin color, and did an excellent job depicting different cultures’ attitudes toward each other.
I can’t say whether it properly captured LA, as I’ve never lived there, but I trust Marks’s judgment, as he’s lived there his entire life. I did, however, like that the setting shifted between California and Nevada, giving readers a taste of what lay beyond Duke’s hometown.
The scenes between Duke and Rita were steamy, without really being overly descriptive. Marks has a knack for language and description. It was a refreshing change from novelists who try to make sex scenes so sexy that it reads like erotica.
I had a lot of fun with White Heat. It was riveting, sexy, and provocative. The best part of this novel? There’s a sequel (due out in November 2012).
Disclaimer Thingy: I was provided an ARC in exchange for a written review.