Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: Raging Heat by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story, character development, nods to show
Cons: Writing could be stronger (as usual)
The Bottom Line:
As body plummets
And hurricane approaches
Can Nikki solve case?

Nikki’s Weirdest Case Yet

Whoever came up with the idea of actually writing the Nikki Heat books is an absolute genius.  These novels are based on the hit ABC show Castle – sort of.  See, the character Richard Castle is a writer working on a series of books based on the character of Kate Beckett.  Each fall, he releases the next in the series, and that book is published in the real world for all to read as well.  As I said, genius, right?  Raging Heat is the latest of the books in the series, and I once again found myself completely entertained.

It’s been a couple of years since Nikki Heat finally solved the murder of her mother, and the resulting years have provided a routine to her life.  All that is about to change when a body falls into her case load – literally.

The man falls from the sky into the local planetarium.  There’s no ID, and very little of him left to identify.  Yet slowly Nikki begins making her case, a case that seems to be leading to a commissioner for the Port Authority.  Meanwhile, her boyfriend Rook has developed some leads that point in other directions.  Whose intel is correct?  Can Nikki make a case against a man so well connected?  And will Nikki and Rook’s relationship survive this case?

If you were paying attention, the first few books in the series were actually compressed into a year, which left us several years behind real time.  Even with that two year jump, we aren’t completely caught up.  How can I tell?  This book is set in the lead up to Hurricane Sandy, which was two years ago.  That actually adds to the drama of the book and definitely impacts the climax.  I knew that would be the case as soon as I realized when the book was opening, but I loved just how it all played out.

Even without that added drama, the mystery is good.  The plot twists and turns all over the place, and I didn’t truly get a sense of where it was going until about the time Nikki did.  There are some great action scenes as well that kept me turning pages.

There are four characters based on the four main characters of Castle, and I dare any fan to read the book without picturing the actors in the parts.  It makes for a very fun dynamic as fans read, and in many ways I feel like it is an extended episode of the show.  Of course, there are some added characters who enhance it as well.  We get some good character development for all of them here, and I like where things are going.

Of course, fans of the show will certainly enjoy the Easter Eggs written in just for the fans.  While the mystery itself is original, there are scenes and references that are nods to the show.  In fact, I think this book had the first Firefly reference in it for the books.  These add a fun layer that always makes me smile.

However, I still maintain that you could read the book without being a fan of the show.  These references are just throw away lines or set ups for a scene.  Everything you need to know for the book is right here because it really is self-contained.

I will make my annual notice about the writing.  It is denser than I normally read, and the print is smaller.  Between the two, this is not nearly as fast as I normally enjoy.  There are some weak spots in the writing as well.  Still, it is completely worth the added time.  I really look forward to these books each year and get a kick out of them.

Speaking of getting a kick out of things, I loved the acknowledgements.  As fans of the show know, season six ended with Richard Castle going missing.  They play on that here, having an intern piece together the acknowledgements that Castle would have written if he could.  Just a fun little bit.

But those nods to the fans wouldn’t have been enough to keep me coming back if the mysteries weren’t good on their own.  Fortunately, Raging Heat proves again just how fun the series of novels is.  Fans of the show must read them, but anyone who enjoys a mystery will enjoy the book as well.

And if you haven't started reading the books yet, here are the rest of the Nikki Heat Mysteries in order.


  1. I watched Castle pretty religiously when it first came out and loved it. I lost interest in it a little bit when Castle and Beckett got together but I've been wondering how the books were. Definitely sounds like they're worth giving a try. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think they are worth trying. Of course, I've also enjoyed the series after Castle and Beckett got together. Well, except for last week's premier.

  2. I find this whole concept really interesting...the fact that I can actually read a fictional author's book :-) I read the first book and enjoyed it. Don't know why I haven't read any more but I'm definitely going to continue reading the series. Thanks for a great review.

    1. So many books so little time. That's always my excuse when I do get back to a series. Feel free to use it.

  3. There was a Firefly reference in the last Derick Storm book, along with other references that tie back to Castle.

    1. I haven't made it over to the Storm books. So many books, so little time. :)