Heat Rises (Nikki Heat vol. 3)

by Richard Castle

Rook asked, “Did you really stab him with an icicle?”
When she nodded, he said, “Please, tell me you said ‘Freeze,’ because that would be only perfect.”

(Sigh.) The guilty pleasures of Castle and the devastatingly beautiful Stana Katic (Kate Beckett aka Nikki Heat) must be set aside, as it’s about time to return to more mundane matters of good versus evil, darkness versus light, us versus ourselves. So one last little write-up before we get back to business as usual, at least for the time being.

A priest has been murdered in an S&M dungeon in Manhattan, the body found still strapped to a torture device. As Nikki’s investigation begins she uncovers tampering by her hero and captain, Montrose, who instructs her to stay away from certain aspects of the case. Meanwhile her profile has been rising thanks to excellence on the job, and she’s being approached by political officers to speak to her about elevating her role with the city. As the investigation winds through facts and the politics turn against her and get her suspended, a dear friend and mentor commits suicide in a suspicious fashion which is possibly connected to the case.

And during all of this is the Rook / Heat relationship, one of the main reasons to be reading these books in the first place. Again, a lot of chemistry exists between the characters, and again, a lot of what Richard Castle learns on the job following Kate Beckett around informs many situations in his Nikki Heat books, providing an extra layer of information for fans of the show.

It’s a complicated investigative mystery with darker elements of torture and betrayal, it has rich, funny, relatable characters that are for the first time developing beyond the show that inspired them, and it’s got a rocket engine for an ending.

How good can ghostwritten spin-off novels from a television series actually be? This one’s excellent; critics be damned.

“Nikki Heat. Always the detective. You’re handcuffed, we’re torturing you, and you’re asking the questions.”

4 stars

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