Book Review – Laguna Heat by T. Jefferson Parker


I just finished reading a book that came out the year I was born: 1985. Entitled Laguna Heat, it’s the debut novel by T. Jefferson Parker. I met the author last July at ThrillerFest and immediately liked him after seeing his hour-long interview with D.P. Lyle. This interview provided me with insight into Parker’s writing style, motivations and interesting behind-the-scenes information about his impressive body of work. I picked up a copy of Iron River while I was there so he could autograph it, but I decided that the first book of his I would read was Laguna Heat, mainly because I think the title sounds great.

I’m glad to report that Laguna Heat is more than a book with a great title, it’s a refreshingly compelling story that doesn’t feel dated in any way, shape or form. It’s also incredibly well written. His word choice, sentence structure and descriptive prose is magnificent. Instead of employing pedestrian language that makes the reader feel like he’s incapable of reading beyond a 4th-grade level, Parker’s debut novel is replete with a wonderful variety of intelligent verbiage and impactful metaphors. It made for an enjoyable read, both from a narrative perspective as well as a linguistic one.

Meeting T. Jefferson Parker at ThrillerFest in 2013.

Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed this novel is because Parker’s story is a linear one, unlike the labyrinthian ones many readers are subjected to endure in this day and age. In my opinion, this makes for a much more enjoyable read. When I’m reading, it should be a stress-free experience, not one where I feel like I have to take notes to keep track of what’s happening.

Lastly, I should point out that I listened to the audiobook version of Laguna Heat and I thought it was great. The narrator was very talented and it was easy to differentiate between the character’s voices. His skillful performance made for a compelling listen.

If you’re looking for a great thriller, look no further. Nearly 30 years after it first debuted, Laguna Heat is still a terrific novel that’s worth the price of admission. I highly recommend you pick it up.

Book Synopsis 

Laguna, where every day the sun makes a promise the nighttime breaks, while the super-rich live out expensive fantasies in posh beach houses and drown their memories in Cuervo Gold margaritas—where trouble has swept in like a Santa Ana wind, blowing the cover off a world of torture, murder, and blood-red secrets—where a crazed killer has turned paradise into a Disneyland of depraved violence—with a fiery vengeance—and where homicide cop Tom Shephard unravels a grisly mystery that reaches back across forty years of sordid sex, blackmail, and suicide into the dark corners of his own past, and sweats out a deadly truth in the sweltering Laguna Heat.

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