The rape case lands on the desk of Mark Blackwell, the new District Attorney of San Antonio. The file relates the accusations made by a young black maid against a politically connected white man. The woman's version of the crime is a portrait of physical brutality. The accused man's side is almost impossible to believe: The woman came to his office, tore off her clothes and screamed for help. Oh, and one more thing: The accused rapist is the D.A.'s son. What evil lurks, deep in the heart of Texas?
Fade the Heat is a tightly written, well-paced legal soap opera, flush with interesting characters. Brandon, a San Antonio attorney who has written three previous novels, has an eye for detail and an ear for the chatter of cops and lawyers.
The fun of reading Fade the Heat is in following the choices made by the principal characters. At no point does Brandon ever show his hand or hint at where the story will turn. Is the young man guilty of rape? Should Mark Blackwell have left office to defend his own son? Are the woman's charges politically motivated? Can anyone in San Antonio be completely trusted? Fade the Heat can be enjoyed as summer's heat fades, a fine antidote until the next batch of Perry Mason specials roll in. (Pocket Books, $18.95)