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Heat is a 1985 novel by William Goldman about a soldier of fortune in Las Vegas.[1]

First edition
AuthorWilliam Goldman
CountryUnited States
PublisherWarner Books
Publication date



The novel is about a man named Nick Escalante, nicknamed "the Mex" by his friends, who hires himself out in Las Vegas not as a mercenary or bodyguard but as a service listed in the Yellow Pages directory under "Chaperone." He eschews firearms but is particularly lethal with sharp objects.

Escalante has one ambition, which is to save up enough money so that he can move to Venice, Italy for the rest of his life. The trouble is, Nick is a compulsive gambler.

When he comes into a large sum of money after coming to the aid of a woman friend who has been physically abused in a Vegas hotel suite by DeMarco, an arrogant mobster, Nick ends up losing it at the blackjack tables. He is hired by a meek millionaire named Cyrus Kinnick on the pretense of needing a bodyguard, but in actuality the small, modest man seeks lessons in how to be a tougher individual who can properly defend himself.


Goldman says he began the novel with "that main character and I had that opening sequence and I'd been in Vegas a lot and it's such a terrible place to be a compulsive gambler and try to earn a living there."[2]


The Chicago Tribune called the book "a casual blend of novel, screenplay" which was "not quite as good" as his earlier novels.[3]


The book was adapted into a 1986 film that starred Burt Reynolds. It was later remade in a 2015 version starring Jason Statham.


  1. ^ 'Las Vegas, Love It or Leave It: HEAT By William Goldman'. 244pp. New York: Warner Books. $15.50. By David Mamet. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 May 1985: BR15.
  2. ^ Egan p 199
  3. ^ FICTION: Goldman's 'Heat': A casual blend of novel, screenplay Cook, Bruce. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 30 June 1985: m31.
  • Egan, Sean, William Goldman: The Reluctant Storyteller, Bear Manor Media 2014