Heat Wave (Nikki Heat vol. 1)

by Richard Castle

If you study horror, concerned with the dark forces devouring the world, then a switch to simple murderers is like a walk through Candy Land. However, a recent obsession with a cancelled show led to the Nikki Heat books, and it’s a journey worth taking.

It’s tough to explain the impact of the television series Castle. Most people felt it was a relatively lighthearted procedural that relied upon its relationship between the two leads as a central hook. Late in its eight season run producers called it “a love story for the ages,” and that’s the place the show took a lot of viewers. There are three possible interpretations to the final ending of the show, and it appears about 98% of the world picked the wrong one and called the final few seconds “tacked on.” To complete this story and for maximum impact there is really only one interpretation, and it’s both disturbing and perfect. Castle was an incredible love story, and it left a hole in its wake.

Here we have the first Nikki Heat book, which was the setup for Castle in the first place. In the show Richard Castle (played by Nathan Fillion) follows New York Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to gain inspiration and perspective for his new character Nikki Heat. Heat Wave is finally released during the show’s second season and Richard Castle went on to write more Nikki Heat books. Heat Wave was released in the real world about the same time it was released in the show as an actual mystery novel commissioned by ABC.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to the ghostwriter’s identity for Heat Wave and subsequent Nikki Heat books, as they’re all officially credited to the fictional Richard Castle. Some evidence has surfaced that the ghostwriter is Tom Straw, who had a cameo appearance on the show and ABC has revealed their writer actually appeared once onscreen, uncredited. Tom has written The Trigger Episode, a well-received bestseller and his website credits him with seven other New York Times bestselling novels under a pseudonym; there are currently seven Nikki Heat books, all of which were bestsellers. The final sentence on his site reads, “He lives in Connecticut with his family where his home is his castle.” (emphasis mine)

Writer’s identity aside, the hole that was left by the cancellation of the show can be filled by the seven released Nikki Heat novels and two more soon to be released.

Heat Wave has Pulitzer winning journalist Jameson Rook shadowing homicide detective Nikki Heat to write an article. Her team is assigned to investigate the murder of a Manhattan real estate tycoon which is a parade of interrogations and site visits. As the murders mount and the mystery gains complexity the novel becomes a procedural much deeper than that of the show Castle, which should be expected given the additional development time available in novel format. It also offers a few chilling moments that were rarely seen in the show. Character development is good but you’ll certainly get more out of it if you were already a fan, measuring them up against what you already know.

“How do you ever have a relationship in this job?”
“I don’t. Pay attention.”

While the procedure takes a more central stage, humor from the show’s characters is still recognizable. As the investigation proceeds, the character of Rook is treated and responds similar to Richard Castle. Nikki displays many of the aspects of Kate Beckett, so the book plays well on a meta level as well as a standalone mystery/thriller. The relationship between Heat and Rook parallels the one we fell in love with between Castle and Beckett in the show and displays the same reluctant affection from Nikki to the writer. She’s got her walls up, but as should be expected the wish fulfillment of Castle has Jameson Rook tearing them down well before Castle was able to reach Beckett.

All in all, Castle fans are going to really like this book. Now that the show’s over here we can continue to live with some of our favorite characters by following the characters our characters created. It’s not as complicated as it may seem. If you’re not a fan of Castle, shame on you, but you’d like this book anyway.

She turned onto Rook’s street and pulled the police car into an open space in a loading zone up the block from his building.
“You still pissed at me?” he said.
“No more than usual.”

3+ (4-)




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