The concept of the ABC television program "Castle" is straight-forward. Richard Castle, world famous mystery novelist, pulls strings and gets himself assigned a tagalong role with the NYPD, specifically Detective Kate Beckett and her squad. Beckett, in turn, serves as the inspiration of Castle's new book series starring Nikki Heat. As season two opens, the first Nikki Heat book, Heat Wave, is on the shelves and making waves.
In a clever bit of meta-promotion, ABC hired someone (createor Andrew Marlowe?) to write the actual Heat Wave book and attribute it to Richard Castle. Nice, huh? Being a huge fan of the show (my #1 favorite show on TV; send me an e-mail and I'll wax poetic on why I love it so), it was a no-brainer that I'd buy the book via Audible and give it a listen.
In Heat Wave, Nikki Heat and her squad have Jameson Rook tagging along. Rook is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is doing some background research on the NYPD and Nikki's squad drew the short straw. The rest of Heat's squad is Detectives Raley and Ochoa, mirroring Detectives Ryan and Esposito on the show. When Heat refers to or thinks of her partners together, she gives them the nickname "Roach." Dang clever again. The one thing you don't have in the book (with Rook) is the father/daughter dynamic that is one of the most charming aspects of the television show. Rook's a bachelor, a "doable" bachelor as Heat's friend, Lauren, later tells her. And, just like Fillion says in the pre-credit sequence, Rook is "rougishly handsome."
Like any good police procedural on television, the story starts right off with a death: a real estate tycoon who met death via the pavement under his sixth-floor window. For those of y'all in the back row, he was thrown out the window. In the pages that follow, Heat, Rook, and her squad investigate a myriad of clues, some unreleated, and we get a parade of suspects, colorful and ordinary.
The mystery wasn't earth-shattering although it did involve a few interesting turns. What drives the book and the television show is the chemistry of its two leads. In this case, Heat and Rook have their various tete-a-tetes in situations that are funny and irritating. The book is entirely from Nikki's POV so we get her internal thoughts on why her stomach flutters when Rook's near, the likelihood of her and Rook acutally getting together, and her utter exasperation when Rook doesn't listen to her orders and gets himself into one dire situation after another. It's a nice addition to the what we get on screen with little looks, eye rolls, and awkward moments. In a sort of reverse extrapolation, I now see TV's Beckett in a new light.
Middle way through the book, there's a scene of genuine tension. I don't want to give too much away but let me just paint the scene. Nikki's alone in her apartment, naked, having just taken a bath. An intruder's in her apartment. He's after her. What follows is a great scene, full of tension, action, and gumption. Very truthful, if you ask me, and I was roundly happy for how the writer ended the scene.
In a nod to what everyone wants to know about the TV show--will Castle and Beckett get together or won't they--Heat Wave answers the question for Nikki and Rook. And I'm not telling which way it went, either. You'll have to read the book to find out and make your own conclusion on what happened.
I've read on various websites (best one is CastleTV.net) that the novel is doing quite well, As of Tuesday, it's #23 on the Amazon bestseller list, #2 on Barnes & Noble's website, and #6 on the New York Times Bestseller list. That's got to be good news for the series and it's staying power. I can't help but think if it'll spawn another book. I'd read it in a heartbeat.
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