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.
I've never before had the slightest interest in reading a book that was based on a movie or TV show but after seeing someone comment on my Facebook page about how much she enjoyed Heat Wave, my curiosity was piqued. I enjoy watching Castle and had heard that a book by “Richard Castle” had been published, but hadn’t given any thought to actually reading it. While I thought it was a cute gimmick I doubted that the book actually had any literary merit. But soon after seeing the book praised by my friend I came across it at the library and figured it can’t hurt to give it a shot, and it might even be fun. And you know what? It really was.
Reading Heat Wave is pretty much just like watching an episode of Castle. Nearly all of the same characters are here (minus Alexis, Castle’s daughter) just with different names, and the plot and dialogue were so familiar that I think they may have been lifted from actual episodes. There was one bantering exchange between the characters that I am almost certain took place, word-for-word, in one of the show's episodes.
- OK, we agree on the ferret profile, “ said Heat. “What do we come away with that’s useful?”
- “I think he did it.”
- “Rook, you say that about everyone we meet on the case. May I remind you of Kimberly Star?”
- “But I hadn’t seen this guy before. Or maybe it’s his muscle. That is what you guys call them, muscle?”
- “Sometimes,” said Raley. “There’s also goon.”
- “Or Thug” said Ochoa.
- “Thug’s good,” continues Raley. “So’s badass.”
- “Meat,” from Ochoa, and the two detectives alternated euphemisms in rapid-fire succession.
- “But muscle works,” said Ochoa.
- “Gets it said,” agreed Raley.
- Rook had out his Moleskin notebook and pen. “I gotta get some of these down before I forget.”
- “You do that, said Heat. “I’ll be in with the...miscreant.”
There is one big difference between the show and the book and that is that Heat Wave is told from the perspective of the female detective, Nikki Heat, who is pretty much the same character as Castle’s Becket. Whenever I watch Castle I find myself wishing that Becket’s personal life received as much attention as Castle’s and in this book we finally get that inside look into Becket’s life, via Niki Heat. There are a few slight differences between Heat and Becket, such as the details surrounding the death of her mother, but the personality, humor, life- style and pretty much everything else, are exactly the same. So I enjoyed getting to see into Becket/Heat’s head and finding out what makes her tick, especially in regard to her feelings about Castle/Rook.
Another difference between the book and the show is that the physical relationship between Heat and Rook goes much father than the show has taken it (yet) and I liked that, especially since it really didn’t change anything about how the characters interact with each other. While I understand why the show can’t cement that relationship yet it was nice to see it develop further, at least in one place.
I have to admit that the writing was a lot better than I had expected it to be, at times even bordering on the poetic. While there is no mistaking Heat Wave for Castle’s best-selling novel from the show, it still held its own. I don't read a lot of mysteries so I can't say how sophisticated this one was but I enjoyed it and eagerly followed along with Heat as she worked to solve it. Though my favorite parts of the book were the interactions between the characters, full of humor, snappy dialogue, and romantic tension.
One area in which the book was lacking was in the character development. Readers are never really introduced to the characters or given a description of what they look like and I got the sense that that the writers want us to imagine the show’s cast in the role of the book’s characters. While fans of Castle probably don’t mind this, anyone who has not watched the show will likely be left unsatisfied.
Castle fans looking for some entertainment while waiting for the next season to start will find Heat Wave to be an enjoyable alternative. I really had fun reading it and I look forward to trying out some of the other Nikki Heat books.