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Publisher's Summary

The pioneering novel featuring African American police detective Virgil Tibbs 

“They call me Mr. Tibbs” was the line immortalized by Sidney Poitier in the 1967 Oscar-winning movie adaptation of In the Heat of the Night, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award and was named one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Now fans of classic crime can rediscover this suspense-filled novel whose hero paved the way for James Patterson’s Alex Cross, George Pelecanos’s Derek Strange, and other African American detectives.

A small southern town in the 1960s. A musician found dead on the highway. It’s no surprise when white detectives arrest a black man for the murder. What is a surprise is that the black man - Virgil Tibbs - is not the killer but a skilled homicide detective, passing through racially tense Wells, South Carolina, on his way back to California. Even more surprising, Wells’s new police chief recruits Tibbs to help with the investigation. But Tibbs’s presence in town rubs some of the locals the wrong way, and it won’t be long before the martial arts-trained detective has to fight not just for justice, but also for his own safety.

©1965 John Ball (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about In the Heat of the Night

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loved it.

if you enjoyed the movie or have read the book as an adult or as a kid. give this title a try even if you know the plot beginning to end. you won't be disappointed!

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Classic

Thia has been one of my fave books for such a long time and really enjoyed this. The narration was excellent and you will certainly enjoy this

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Love it!

The racism elements were very emotional but were to expected since I saw the movie adaptation.

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my favorite novel

this book was amazing I dont usually read books but this was a amazing one!

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Great book

I read this book when I was in high school and then watched the movie. 30 years later, it still has the same impact. Before Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Frederick Douglass, this was my first introduction to racial relations and discrimination. A great snapshot of the South in the US in the 1960s.

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Just okay

Not a bad read. Not great either. Clearly too short to really explore the characters in any detail. Wasn’t wild about the ending which was like an episode of Scooby Doo where all is revealed and explained.

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disappointed

Generally books are better than the movie. Not the case here. The movie was better.

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Classic

Well narrated. A classic story. Timeless. Highly recommend. I have seen the movie, but it's been awhile. Right away the author pulls you into the story, the era, the characters. You feel "The Heat of the Night"

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Timeless book

I read this book the first time probably thirty years ago. I read just recently and just loved the way it was writteen again. These days with all the talk of racism in the nes, this book is a moment in time when in the southern united sites racism was a way of life. The movie also is well done. If you have never seen it you might want to. Over all a great read.

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  • PCR
  • 2020-11-08

Grace under prejudice

This book is nearly as old as me, but extremely timely during the US election. Well worth the read. Question assumptions. Persevere in spite of them.

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  • M. Gatewood
  • 2017-06-27

Very entertaining

Always loved the movie, but had never read the book, so I decided to finally check it out. I usually don't enjoy audio books that much, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The differences between the movie and the novel made for an interesting "read". The narrator had a pleasant voice and did a wonderful job of bringing the book to life.

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  • Chris D.
  • 2018-02-08

Classic!

Incentive and original story. Great plot, characters and atmosphere. Timely at the time it was made and timeless story. Virgil Tibbs is one of the great detective characters of all time.

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  • dogcow
  • 2018-03-14

Great book, fans of the film might be disappointed

Like most Americans I knew of the classic Sidney Poitier/Rod Steiger film (and the subsequent Carol O'Conner TV version) of the same name. I only became aware of the book many years later having caught the movie again on TV I noticed in the credits it was based on a novel. I decided to seek out an audio version of the novel and was quite glad I did. The thing that most surprised me was the stark difference between the film and novel versions of the story. While the basic premise remains the same, and the film even takes many scenes and lines of dialogue (including the famous "MISTER Tibbs") verbatim from the novel, there is a dramatic difference in tone. In the film takes a back seat to rather heavy handed social commentary. The novel however is actually a cracking good detective story told in the grand tradition of Poe, Doyle and Christie's famous literary detectives. Ball is one of the "Baker Street Irregulars", a famous group of Sherlock Holmes fanatics and it shows here, Tibbs evokes intentional echoes of Holmes.

That is not to say the novel is without social commentary. The entire premise of a smart sophisticated eloquent black detective showing up a group of ignorant southern bumpkins must have been extremely controversial in 1965 when it was originally published. However Ball deftly handles this, much more so than Norman Jewison's film version. In the film both the Police Chief and Tibbs are stereotypes, almost cartoonishly so. While most remember Steiger's oscar winning turn as the sweaty racist backwoods police chief, most forget that Poitier does not really deliver a particularly subtle performance either. He plays the quintessential "angry black man" in an almost unhinged performance. In some ways it seems appropriate because he is only reacting to Steiger's treetment of him which is far worse than the book.

However Ball's novel is much more realistic and in doing so I think stands the test of time better. In Ball's book Tibbs is angry, to be sure, but his anger is always tightly controlled, just under the surface. Tibbs does not yell his famous line in the book , its instead delivered almost offhandedly. Tibbs characters both white and black understand their place in the social structure in which they find themselves. Remember in both versions Tibbs was supposedly raised in the south, he would certainly "know the score", he had also supposedly rose through the ranks in a mostly white police department in the 1950s and 1960s, hardly something which could be accomplished by an angry arrogant militant. Ball's Detective Tibbs is much more cordial and diplomatic, sure of himself and arrogant, but instead of raising his voice he forces the white racists to contend with his genius mind. He does things in a way in which it superficially seems he is serving them,when in reality all involved know he is putting them in their place. Ball's Tibbs does not think he will upend the southern social order, and does not try to. He , his ancestors named Holmes and Poitrot, doesn't solve the case to "show up " the whites, but does so because his intellect locks on to a problem with laser focus and once involved he simply cannot let it go unresolved. He is a pure intellectual.
Ball also bravely allows the characters to grow, both black and white, but only to a realistic degree. The white characters seem real, while they are racist only a few ancillary ones are cartoons. Gillespie and Wood are painted as ignorant, products of their upbringing, environment and egos, but not evil. In that they have the capacity to come to respect and like Tibbs, not because he yells at them or browbeats them, but because of his genius and constant professionalism.

Those fans of the film who expect to see the fireworks of the movie may come away disappointed, however mystery lovers may find an unexpected surprise. As for the social aspect, the novel, I feel anyway,may say a bit less, but is a much more realistic product of its time.

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  • Joi Wilson
  • 2020-10-14

excellent

I'm glad I got to read the book. The movie and series were great too

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  • C. B. Harrison
  • 2020-01-23

absolutely amazing

i loved this book it was absolutely amazing. it was well preformed it was like i was in the book as the story was happening.