Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Frozen Heat by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great story with plenty of twists, main two characters
Cons: Weak writing is annoying
The Bottom Line
Nikki Heat takes on
Two frozen cases.  Result?
Another fun ride

Frozen Case of Nikki Heats Comes Back to ...Well...Death

I still don’t know who the genius is who decided that the books Richard Castle is supposed to be writing on the TV show Castle should be printed in real life, but it’s a tie in I absolutely love.  Each year, I can’t wait to get the latest Nikki Heat book and watch for the parallels between this and the TV show.  Frozen Heat is the fourth in the series, and it’s another fun read.

At first, it looks like just another bazaar murder to NYPD Detective Nikki Heat.  A woman has been found in a suitcase in a delivery truck’s freezer compartment.  But then Nikki takes a closer look at the suitcase and discovers her initials in the top.  She carved them there when she was a little girl.  And the suitcase was stolen when her own mother was murdered a decade ago.

Pulling in every available person, including writer and boyfriend Jameson Rook, Nikki begins investigating the fresh murder and reopening the cold case of her own mother’s murder.  Will this new corpse help her solve the one case she most wants to solve?

For those who love the TV show, the main four characters (three detectives and a writer) are easy enough to pick out, and the parallels between the people on the show and the characters here are fun to spot.  Nikki and Rook are the most fleshed out of these four, and I really like how they are developing.

But the book is populated with many more characters than those four.  In fact, I had forgotten how many people are in Nikki’s world until I started reading, but they all came back to me quickly.  I would hesitate to call many of them truly developed since most are just there to run down leads and tell Nikki what they’ve found, but they still get to display some personality during their limited page time.

Then there are the references to the TV show.  Granted, I only caught a few of them, and many of those were from previous seasons, not the events in season 4, which just aired.  Still, I love catching them.  It’s like an inside joke, and they always make me laugh.  If you aren’t familiar with the show, you won’t get quite as much out of it, although you will still enjoy what is here.  These do read well as novels even if you don’t watch the show.

The plot is very interesting because Kate Beckett, Nikki Heat’s inspiration from the TV show, has only just now solved her mother’s murder in the season 5 premier.  I was surprised when I realized they were tackling that in this book.  But fans of the series need not worry.  This book’s plot is nothing like the resolution in the TV show.

What you do get is a fast paces plot with several surprises and twists and turns along the way.  There was one part where things seemed to get bogged down, but we’re talking about 50 pages out of 300.  The rest was filled with action and great twists and turns.  Granted, most of the action is fairly predictable if you’ve been reading the series, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting when it happens.  The ending certainly leaves you anxiously awaiting the next in the series.

My real complaint with this book is the writing.  Once again, it just tells us lots of things, like how the characters feel.  Plus the head hopping between Nikki and Rook is annoying.  These have been issues in all the books to one extent or another; frankly, I think it means the books are written by a TV writer who doesn’t quite get the differences between TV and novel writing.  Yet I enjoy them enough to overlook that and hang on for the ride.

While the Nikki Heat books would entertain anyone who loves a mystery, they are written for Castle fans to enjoy.  Despite the weaker writing, I do recommend Frozen Heat for all the fans of the hit ABC show.

As the series progresses, you'll be thankful you read the Nikki Heat Mysteries in order.

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