Reviews for Heat 2 : a novel

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A combination prequel and sequel to the much-admired Mann film that brought together Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The movie climaxed in 1995, with Pacino's intense LA cop, Vincent Hanna, shooting and killing De Niro's fatalistic bank thief Neil McCauley, his nemesis and alter ego. In the "before" sections of the novel, set in 1988, Hanna pursues a sadistic home-invading gang of killers and rapists while McCauley plans the heist of millions in cartel money from a truck bound for Mexico. Following McCauley's death and a massive shootout, his wounded right-hand man, Chris Shiherlis (the Val Kilmer character), escapes to South America, where he goes to work for a Taiwanese Paraguayan crime boss. Women figure in the plots: McCauley has an affair in Mexico with Elisa, a “seventh-generation smuggler,” and Chris sleeps with the crime boss’s daughter, Ana, even as he pines for his estranged wife and son. Minus the film's psychological mano a mano between Hanna and McCauley, this nearly 500-page novel, Mann's first, lacks a compelling center. And in Chris, it lacks a compelling protagonist—once a sidekick, always a sidekick. Hanna's fierce efforts to save Elisa's daughter from a mad killer 12 years after her single mother was killed energize the book, leading to an explosive highway chase. But with its unwieldy structure, the novel keeps getting in its own way. And despite the collaboration of seasoned pro Gardiner, the descriptive writing is weak: "Looking into his vacant blue eyes is like staring into the black ocean at night." Ultimately, Mann has written not a self-contained novel, but a novelization of the film sequel the 79-year-old director envisions. A book hardcore fans of Mann's film may enjoy but others will dismiss as unneeded. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.