A 50th-anniversary edition of the pioneering novel featuring African American police detective Virgil Tibbs—with a foreword by John Ridley, creator of the TV series American Crime and Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave
“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.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
John Ball (1911–1988) wrote more than thirty novels across numerous genres; his Virgil Tibbs series remains his best-known work. Born in Schenectady, New York, he grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and worked briefly as a part-time police officer in Los Angeles.
John Ridley (foreword) is an award-winning screenwriter, film director, and novelist. The creator of the acclaimed television series American Crime, he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.
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'In the Heat of the Night' by John Ball engages interest early on and holds on to it throughout the course of the novel. Chief Bill Gillespie lives in the town of Wells and, despite his work as a police officer who has taken an oath to uphold the law, he still finds himself muddying the waters of how he feels regarding racism. The novel is set in the 1960s when integration had not yet hit parts of the South, and Gillespie finds himself unsure how to deal with a murder that took place in town when a Negro (to use the words in the book) officer happens to arrive in Wells, finding himself swept up in the murder investigation. Virgil Tibbs was originally brought in on suspicion of being the murderer of the man who was putting together a town music festival. An officer, Sam Wood, found him in the train station, ready to hop a train out of town. Little did the officers of Wells know that Tibbs would soon be their greatest lead in tracking down the murderer and solving little pieces of other potential crimes along the way. There is blatant racism present in the novel, but the characterization of Gillespie, Wood, and others shows that even those who seem the most prejudiced can often find ways to relate to those they claim to hate. Tibbs, for his part, tries to remain as impartial and unprejudiced as possible, but that is not always the easiest, especially when he is threatened and told to leave town before he meets his own untimely demise. The book is a nice precursor into the movie and television versions of 'In the Heat of the Night,' based on this very novel. The movie follows it more closely, with subtle variations here and there, but the television series takes more opportunities to show how times have changed from the 1960s when this novel was written and during which it was set and the late 1980s when the television series takes place. Despite racism still remaining an ever-present part of society in the TV version, it is far less "in-your-face," but that is not to say that those of different races are tolerated or accepted. The way the murder was solved and summed up by Tibbs in the end is truly a testament to the author being able to create an unpredictable piece of writing. It is always nice to not quite know what is coming, even if you think you know what may lie in the pages ahead. Beth Rodgers, Author of 'Freshman Fourteen,' A Young Adult Novel