Fade the Heat
by Colleen Thompson
(Dorchester, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-505-52648-4
***
Reagan Hurley is a Houston firefighter whoís been suspended due to asthma attacks.† All sheís ever wanted to be is a firefighter like her late father.† She needs a doctor to sign off on her return-to-duty form to be able to resume her job.† However, no doctor sheís seen to date will sign the form.† As a last resort she goes to Dr. Joaquin ďJackĒ Montoya, a childhood friend she hasnít seen in about 20 years.† Reagan thinks Jack will sign the form since heís rumored to be a less than ethical doctor. †

Jack, a clinic doctor in the worst part of Houston, sees a lot of illegal aliens go without necessary medical care.† Jackís father was killed by coyotes (the men who promise to smuggle illegal aliens across the border and then kill them or enslave them), which has prompted Jack to want to more for illegal aliens.† Recently, a talk show host running for mayor has gotten copies of medical paperwork that Jack falsified to provide free health care and medication to the children of illegals.† Now Jack and health care for illegal aliens are forefront in an ugly mayoral battle. †

After refusing to sign Reaganís release form, Jack finds his car has been side-swiped.† Figuring that Reagan did it in anger Jack confronts her.† While learning that Reagan was not the culprit, Jackís apartment is burned by an arsonist.† In the fire, Reaganís captain is critically injured.† †

The fire is believed to have been started by BorderFree-4-All, a brutally violent group fighting for illegal alien rights.† The FBI and ATF suspect Jack was involved in the arson and is a member of BorderFree-4-All.† Believing that Jackís responsible for their captainís injuries, Reaganís co-workers turn against her.† When Jack sets out to find the person framing him, Reagan helps in order to clear Jack and to get the man who injured her captain. †

The pacing of Fade the Heat is uneven as the story rotates from arson mystery, to romance, to isolated side stories and back around again.† Such side stores as a co-worker of Reaganís who wants more than friendship reacts violently to her new relationship with Jack and Jackís sister is pregnant outside of wedlock and needs to hide it from her traditional Catholic mother.† These side stories, which were unrelated to the mystery or Jack and Reaganís relationship, detract from the flow of the book. †

Reaganís character is not sympathetic.† She knows that she has asthma and that low physical endurance puts the crew at risk during a fire.† However, sheís determined to be a firefighter no matter what just because the father she idolizes was a fireman.† Her unwillingness throughout the book to consider alternate careers, despite the potential risk to others seems unrealistic and unfeeling.†

But Jack is a likable guy.† Heís the kind of man who wants to take care of family and the kind of doctor who wants to heal everyone.† He struggles to be a good doctor and help those who need it most. †

Due to the uneven pacing, itís hard to get caught up in Fade the Heat.

--Terry Lawrence


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