Title: Heat Wave
Author: “Richard Castle”
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: It was always the same for her when she arrived to meet the body.
Goodreads blurb: 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 Derrick 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. PulitzerPrize-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.
Yes, you read that correctly. I just gave a four-star rating to a book written by a fictional character on a television show, ghost-written by some unrevealed author. But that fictional character is Richard Castle, played by the brilliant and charmingly sexy Nathan Fillion, and reading this book was just like watching an episode of Castle, one of my favorite series. And if you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that my ratings are entirely subjective and dependent on my reading experience, and I loved reading this book.
Is this literary crime fiction, a la the brilliant Tana French or equally brilliant Tom Franklin? No. This is tongue-in-cheek crime fiction, full of witty one-liners, and sizzling with chemistry between the two main characters. And yet, this isn’t schlock. The mystery kept me guessing almost until the end, and I enjoyed every minute spent reading this book.
The characters are all very obviously based on the characters on the TV show. If you don’t know the show’s premise, crime novelist Richard Castle works with New York City detective Kate Beckett, shadowing her as research for his series of books about female detective Nikki Heat. The improbability of this arrangement is explained by Castle’s close ties and influence with the mayor. Yes, it’s not probable, but once you get sucked into the sexy banter between Castle and Beckett, the lovable relationship between single dad Castle and his daughter Alexis, and the fantastic writing, you don’t really care much that this could never happen in real life. And did I mention that Castle is played by Nathan Fillion?
On the show, Beckett has two detectives on her team, Esposito and Ryan. She is friends with the ME, Lanie. The Nikki Heat books are mentioned frequently on the show, and so it seems only natural that these books should exist in the real world. In the books, Nikki Heat has two detectives on her team, Raley and Ochoa, known together as “Roach.” Her friend Lauren, is the ME. And Nikki is trailed by a journalist named Jameson Rook, who is writing a magazine feature about her team. All of these parallels, plus the fact that the dialogue sounds like it could have been taken straight from an episode, makes the reading experience familiar.
A couple years ago, my friend Michelle gave me the first two Nikki Heat books, plus that poster, for Christmas. (Yes, she totally gets me.) After finishing last season of Castle, I was going through some serious withdrawals, and so pulled the Nikki Heat books off the shelf. Turns out they are the perfect way to get myself through the summer until the fall season starts in September.