Sam Brown sets out on a road trip from his home in a small California desert town to the cooler, greener climes of the Northwest. He tells himself he just needs a break, from his father, a dead-end relationship with a stripper, his job as a nurse, and his troubled best friend. But what he can't escape, no matter how many miles he travels, is the memory of his mother, July, who was brutally murdered sixteen years earlier and visits him regularly in his dreams. Sam's grief is sorely renewed when he learns July's murderer is soon to be released from prison.
Overcome by strong feelings of panic and revenge, he turns to women. He reconnects with a former patient in Los Angeles. In Santa Barbara he meets a sage/philosopher who inspires him to put order in his life. In Oregon, he falls in love with an arborist whose woodsy home provides peace and refuge-at least for a while. Simultaneous with Sam's journey, his mother's story unfolds, coming to a climax when the details of July's grisly murder are revealed. Through a fast-paced, gripping narrative, Heat Signature explores the complexities of family and friendship, love and loss, race and sexuality.
Teasley (Dive) transcends the mystery and thriller genres with her moody second novel populated by unusual but recognizable people living on the left coast of America each wounded in his or her own way. The son of an African-American woman and a Native American man, 31-year-old Sam Brown is haunted by memories of his mother, July, who was raped and murdered when he was a teenager. Sam lives with his gruff, eccentric but loving stepfather, pipe fitter Joe Braxton, in the California desert community of Twentynine Palms, where Sam works as a nurse at the vast military base that dominates the area. Learning that July's killer is about to be released from prison in San Diego, Sam sets off on a road trip up the Pacific coast, seeking solace and pleasure from a series of short-lived affairs with women, including a former patient in Los Angeles, a near-saint in Santa Barbara and a tree expert in Oregon. Teasley interrupts Sam's odyssey with flashbacks to the sad details of July's death, giving her novel a dark, effective frame.