Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Deadly Heat by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: A great story and fun tie in characters
Cons: Characters a tad shallow and writing takes getting used to
The Bottom Line:
Another Heat book
Filled with more action and twists
Page turning good time

Nikki has to Juggle Two Cases with Huge Stakes

When I discovered the first Nikki Heat mystery was real, I had to give it a shot.  After all, I was enjoying the TV show Castle which spun off this series.  But I’ve kept reading them because I have fallen in love with them.  Yes, my love of the show probably helps.  But I would be very disappointed if these books stopped before the show does.  And Deadly Heat was a great fifth in the series.

For those not familiar with the show, it tells the story of best selling author Richard Castle who is basing his latest series of best sellers on NYPD homicide inspector Kate Beckett.  Nikki Heat is this character.  She is not the only character based on characters from the show.  Fellow cops Esposito and Ryan have their doppelgangers.  And then there’s Heat’s boyfriend journalist Jameson Rook who helps Nikki out with some of her cases.

As you can see, it is quite fun for fans of the show.  There are also events that harkens back to episodes from the series, or in the case of last September’s book foreshadow something they would do that season.  However, I think these books work on their own as mysteries.  Why?  Because they are very good stories.

Before we go further, I should point out that there is a great recap of the case of Nikki's mother's murder in the first few pages of the book.  It was great for me since I was a little rusty.  However, if you haven't read the series to date, it will completely spoil the previous book in the series.  You have been warned.

With that out of the way….

It starts with a body in a pizza oven.  The man was a health inspector, but he seems to have no enemies.  Before Nikki Heat and her team of detectives can begin to make much headway, another dead body shows up with the most bizarre clue tying them together.

Meanwhile, Nikki is still trying to tie up the loose ends in her mother’s murder.  But one of the people Nikki needs to arrest tries to kill her.  As Nikki focuses on that case, she begins to realize there is a reason her mother’s murder started heating up last month – whatever she found almost eleven years ago is about to happen.  Can she figure it out?  How will she juggle these two cases?

Now I will admit these books have their weaknesses.  First up is the writing.  There is a lot of telling and description, and it just isn’t quite the fast read I’m used to.  I always spend the first few pages struggling.  Then something clicks and I get lost in the story and the pages go by without me even noticing.  What ever it is about the style, once I adjust, I don’t notice it any more.

Likewise, the characters don’t get the best development.  Nikki and Rook are the most developed and do feel like real people.  The rest are developed enough to serve their purpose, be they suspects or supporting cops.  There are a larger cast of cops than in the TV show (no budget constraints), and they do have personalities if not full fledged development.  And I can’t help but see the actors and characters from the show as I read about the characters based directly on the series.  And this is something I only notice when I'm not reading the book.

I feel like I'm making too big a deal out of these.  They are weaknesses, but they are minor.  As I said, I get into the book and have a hard time putting it down.

And the plot is what does it.  The parallel plots here kept me very engaged and I couldn’t wait to see what twist would come next.  Believe me, there are plenty, and they made the book hard to put down.  Honestly, James Patterson could learn a thing or two about plotting from this book.  It really does work that well.

There’s a dash of humor as well.  The book is decidedly more serious than your average episode of Castle, but there are some quips and jokes that keep things going.  It is written by Castle, after all, and he’s hardly the more serious character in the world.

I’m curious to see where the next book will go considering how things end here.  But I will be along for the ride.  Deadly Heat is a fun ride for anyone who likes a good mystery.  It’s just extra special for the fans of Castle.

You'll enjoy this book most if you back up and read the Nikki Heat Mysteries in order.

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