Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Heat Wave by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots of fun for the fans of the TV show
Cons: Overwritten at times
The Bottom Line:
An unique tie-in
Book from show by character
Brilliant marketing

Castle Applies His Magic Touch to a Fresh New Character

It's always a risk to kill off your cash cow.  But that's just what Richard Castle did with his last book.  I'm still in shock that he killed off Derek Storm after all these years.  But if the result is Nikki Heat, I'll take it.  Heat Wave introduces us to this great new character.

New York City is suffering from a record breaking heat wave when Matthew Starr jumps to his death from his luxury condo.  NYPD detective Nikki Heat quickly determines that it was murder.  And since Matthew was one of the richest developers in the city, the case will be a top priority.

Only Nikki quickly discovers that Matthew wasn't as well off as everyone thought he was.  As the secrets come out, Nikki begins to find multiple motives.  Then her own life is threatened.  Can she solve the crime before another attempt is made?

As a life long fan of Castle's books....

Okay, okay, I'll stop pretending most of this is real.  The truth is, this book is really a tie in to the ABC TV show Castle.  The premise of that show is that best selling author Richard Castle is shadowing a NYPD homicide detective since he is going to base his new character on her.  And just as the second season started, low and behold, the book came out.  Since I find the TV show highly amusing, I had to get the book.  And I've got to say they did a great job with it.  The author bio and photo are definitely the character, right down to actor Nathan Fillion in the author photo spot.  The two blurbs the book gets are from James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell who have both appeared on the show as themselves.

And the fun continues in the book.  While the mystery is all new, the characters are quite obviously based on the characters from the show.  And I don't just mean Nikki Heat.  The other two detectives in the book are based on the supporting detectives.  (And maybe I can tell them apart on the show now.)  Plus there's reporter Jameson Rook who is following Heat around for a story about the police department.  Frankly, I found each new similarity quite fun.  And the fun has continued on the TV show as they talk about this book.  Everything they've said about it is true, including a steamy sex scene starting on page 105.

The plot was fairly decent as well.  There was one element that was never explained, but I can certainly draw my own conclusion about how those characters came together.  While some scenes certainly were drawn from the TV show, the plot was entirely new and kept me confused until the end.

Frankly, my biggest problem with the book was the writing.  For the first half, things were definitely over written.  The sentences were long and overly complex to get the point across.  In fact, it felt like it was more "Look at what a great writer I can be" rather than truly great writing.  Once the book got going, the pretentious writing was dropped in favor of more straight forward prose.  Even at that point, it wasn't a fast read.  But it was certainly more enjoyable.

I must admit I wonder how big an audience the book would have outside the TV fans.  It is a good mystery that could be read and enjoyed on its own.  However, most of the fun for me was in comparing it to the show.

In the end, I can only rate Heat Wave based on how much I enjoyed it.  But frankly, if you aren't already watching Castle, you are missing out.  Start watching that great show, then pick up this book.  You'll be glad you did both.

And Castle kept writing them!  Check out the rest of the Nikki Heat Mysteries in order.

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