This week, our book club is delving into chapter 3 of Naked Heat. Enjoy!
At the end of chapter two, the dead body of journalist Cassidy Towne was stolen from the coroner’s van en route to the morgue. Men in ski masks with rifles did it...in the middle of the day...in traffic. If the Ninja Turtles had shown up with Splinter to try and stop them, it would have been less out of the ordinary. The team begins to speculate why someone might do this, and the best guess they come up with is that Towne had something on her body the thieves wanted. Rook and Heat go off together to gather info, and Heat fantasizes about margarita-fueled sex romps with Rook. Because she’s driving, this is dangerous on several levels. Rook directs her to the Apple Shine 24/7 Car Wash where they meet up with Fat Tommy, a mobster with whom Rook is acquainted. Fat Tommy reveals that someone came to him gently inquiring about what it would take to place a hit on Cassidy Towne. Heat is shocked, but really, what other information is a mobster going to have? The man who inquired about the hit is ex-congressman Chester Ludlow, whose creepster name alone indicates he was involved in a major sex scandal that disgraced him. Towne broke the story, and Ludlow was a little peeved about it. Fat Tommy won’t say anymore, which is fine because he already told them everything.
The dynamic duo finds Chester Ludlow at the Milmar Club, a place so fancy shmancy the front desk makes Rook put on a tie. This happens during NYPD investigations frequently. They talk with Chester, who’s about as skeevy as one might imagine. He basically says, yeah, I hated her because she totally ruined my life; yeah, I inquired about the hit; and no, I didn’t go through with it. He also tells them to investigate a woman named Holly Flanders, whose name alone indicates she would know someone involved in a major sex scandal. Rook and Heat are like, OK. They then head to the basement of Towne’s brownstone, where superintendent JJ tells them that he changed the locks on Towne’s door twice. The second time he changed them because someone kicked the door down. And by someone, he means Yankees starting pitcher Toby Mills, currently on the disabled list. So, he should be pretty easy to find. They ring the bell at his townhouse, but no one answers right away, probably because of the murder and all. A voice comes over the intercom saying to contact Mr. Mill’s representative, but since this is a homicide investigation and not an inquiry about a Kellogg sponsorship, Heat threatens to leave and come back with a warrant. As they’re walking away, Mills calls out from his front porch stoop, “Jameson Rook?” He tells them to come back, because, you know, everybody’s crushing on the writer.
Themes, Motifs and Symbols
Fat Tommy is losing weight.
It’s a season of hope and change. Fat Tommy, a mobster responsible for countless beatings and murders, is now concerning himself with things like high blood pressure and cholesterol. His velour track pants are becoming looser as he sheds pounds. Yet, it was his excess weight that prevented three bullets from moving past his gut into his vital organs. Is all change good? Is the “velour track suit” of the city becoming too loose at the waist as ethical standards erode?
Important Quotations Explained
“So here’s what we’ll do,” said Detective Heat to the room. “Proceed on two fronts, still work the Cassidy Towne murder scene but hit the body snatch hard. I have a feeling it’s a case of find the body, find the killer.”
Fancy cop talk. Means one thing leads to another.
Detective Ochoa had returned from his ordeal. “I feel bad about this, guys,” he said as he took his usual seat in the semicircle facing the whiteboard. “First her trash gets stolen, and now she does. And on my watch.”
Detective Ochoa is painfully under-qualified for his job.
“Your nickname on Capitol Hill was the Minority Whipped.”
Our country is in trouble.
As he surveyed the Hudson River, Nikki watched the wind rustle his hair and remembered how it felt to have a handful of it. She thought of grabbing it and pulling him to her the first night they had sex, and could almost taste the limes from the margaritas they had improvised in her living room that night. He turned back and caught her staring and she felt her face grow flush. She turned away so he wouldn’t notice, but she knew he had. Damn him. Damn that Jameson Rook.
She’s totally over him.
He turned to his workbench, looked at some busty babe tool calendar, and pointed to a day with an orange grease pencil mark on it.
This man is a superintendent. Get it?
Switcheroony, meat wagon
Book Club Discussion Questions:
1. Have you ever visited a mobster with a former lover? Describe the experience.
2. Can you think of a time there might be an excuse to wear a velour track suit? Explain.