The Heat of the Night takes place in a small, sultry town of Wells, North Carolina in the heated civil rights movement era of the 1960s. Heat is alluded to many times in this novel; it symbolizes the stagnant heat the anxiety and nervous tension of the Southern town on the verge of change. The heated exchanges of temper between Chief Gillespie and Virgil Tibbs are certainly indicative of this tension. "The dirty hot dawn" of the last chapter expresses the lustful activities that have gone on secretly in the night of this heated town. And, of course, the title itself expresses the time of the central incident that occurred "in the heat of the night."
In NW NJ there is a town named Sparta and is connected close to Newton location of Newton Hospital. In In addition they often drive on Route 15 which connects Sparta with I-80 East and West. Somehow it seems that Fred Silverman must have had a NE NJ Sparta connection. Anybody know?