Saturday, January 16, 2010

46. Heat Wave by Richard Castle

I really like the show Castle. Colin and I watch and enjoy it every week. Nathan Fillion is at his charming and ruggedly handsome best, and the supporting cast has had a great rhythm down from the first episode. It resists traditional labels; it's a procedural, but infused with wit, romance, friendships, and family. A smart and funny show with an incredibly likable cast? Count me in. In case you're not watching, the basic premise is this: Richard Castle is a best-selling mystery writer. Feeling somewhat uninspired and having killed off his most popular character, he's looking for something new and exciting to write about. He meets Detective Kate Beckett when she's investigating a series of murders that are eerily similar to those in one of Castle's books. He acts as a consultant on the case and decides to write a series of books about female detective based on Beckett. After pulling some strings, he arranges to shadow her on the job as research. Heat Wave is the first book penned by Castle about Detective Nikki Heat, aka Kate Beckett.

A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derek Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's finest. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

Plot summary courtesy of the book jacket.

This book is a great complement to the show, but I don't think it could stand on its own independently of it. Maybe it could, but I think the fun is in knowing that "Castle" wrote it. There's no mention anywhere in the book or on the book jacket of another author, even the acknowledgments are written in his voice (the cast members do get a shout-out there, Castle thanks a list of friends whose first names match up with the main cast members' first names). I liked the way the story was adapted from the real life portrayed in the show to characters and events in the book -- the changes, including Castle's profession and the facts of Kate's mother's murder, work well and are entirely believable as how Castle would change events as he writes. I didn't realize there would be an actual heat wave going on, I thought that was just a play on Nikki Heat's last name.

I only have a couple of complaints. Nikki is attacked in her home late one night by a suspect, who had already made threatening comments of a sexual nature toward her earlier in the day. She had just finished a bath and hadn't dressed yet when she discovered that he was in the apartment, and had to fight him off while naked and hearing more sexual taunts. Castle airs on ABC and is a fairly family-friendly show, so this felt like too drastic a shift in tone to me. As a woman, I found it to be way too creepy, especially because I wasn't expecting it. Also, I lost track of the mystery a tiny bit toward the end. This happens to me sometimes, especially when the mystery revolves around art theft, so I don't think it was necessarily the fault of the author but it still made me feel a bit dumb.

Aside from those complaints, I thought it was a good, fun read for fans of the show. Not an essential read, but a good, fun one. I want to close with a couple of quotes from the book which may explain in part why I liked it:

The neighborhood lunch rush was over, and tourists were either across the street cooling in the American Museum of Natural History or seeking refuge in Starbucks over iced coffees ending in vowels. Her disdain for the coffee drinkers dissolved into a mental note to get one herself on the way back to the precinct.

Rook brought a Dean & DeLuca cup to Heat's desk. "Here, I got you your usual. A nonfat, no-foam, double-pump vanilla latte."
"You know how I feel about frou-frou coffee drinks."
"And yet you have one every morning. Such a complex woman."
She took it from him and sipped. "Thanks. Very thoughtful." Her phone rang. "And next time remember the chocolate shavings."

I love that! See, the humor from the show is intact in the book and they poke fun at fancy coffee drinks. It's like they're writing this for me, you know?


Mollie said...

I feel like they're writing it for both of us!!

Jody said...

I wanted to like this one so much. Love the show, but found the book to be mostly a let-down. It just didn't stand up to a real mystery novel - which would be fine if Nathan had written it - but I suspect a real writer is responsible and therefore I was expecting more.

Magnolia said...

Ooh, for anyone interested in another review, check out Jody's thoughts on

I can see your point, but I think I mentioned that my expectations were low. It's funny how much that can affect your enjoyment!