TV meets novel reality with Heat Wave, the book Richard Castle writes while following Kate Beckett. Heat Wave introduces us to Nikki Heat, a tough, guarded NYC homicide detective. A local real estate tycoon is thrown off his balcony, and Nikki must rush to find the killer before he takes out anyone else, all while being shadowed by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Jameson Rook. Rook is writing a piece on the NYPD, but has taken a liking for Heat. She finds herself unwillingly attracted to the mischievous reporter, but how long can she stay distanced from him?
In the last month, my husband discovered and then “forced” me to watch all 4 1/2 seasons of “Castle” with him. In about a month. So after binging on the fun Nathan Fillion show, I decided to finally pick up the first in the Nikki Heat series. These are all written by a ghostwriter but sold as Richard Castle; there are even cute asides in the acknowledgements and Fillion appears on the back cover. I didn’t expect a lot from a TV show tie-in, but Heat Wave is fun and entertaining, pulling you along with the characters and their crime solving goal.
I have to admit, if Richard Castle really wrote these I would expect them to be better. There isn’t a specific problem with Heat Wave, it just is a bit simplistic and somewhat poorly written. While the characters are fairly rounded and the tone matches what I expect from Richard Castle, they certainly aren’t an addition to some of the better crime fiction out there.
There are some funny little inclusions in the books, things that Castle experiences with the crew. For instance, in the second novel, Naked Heat, it features a body snatching from a morgue vehicle just as it happens in the season 2 premiere. You also get Detectives Ryan and Esposito in the form of Ochoa and Raley (though Raley might be a bit tougher than his TV show counterpart), and ME Lauren Parry who is a lot like Lanie. Frankly, it’s pretty much what I would expect from Castle; including his friends while making subtle character changes but infusing them with the same brand of humor. And it is just like Castle to make himself a Pulitzer Prize winner (twice) and Beckett’s Heat a little less guarded with herself. Man can dream, right?
Heat Wave is definitely geared towards fans of the show, but may not stand well on its own legs. That, I think, is where the tie-in fails. It could have been a thick, substantial, gritty and fun novel to match what the TV show has told us about Richard Castle and his career. Instead, there isn’t a lot to bring in the more discerning crime fiction crowd, though the book is fast-paced and very visual.
But, if you love “Castle” it is definitely worth a read and it’s quick enough that you’ll be finished within a day or two.