Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review Club: Heat Wave by Richard Castle

(This is the November entry in Barrie Summy's Book Review Club. For the complete list, head on over to her blog.)

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 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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Leah J. Utas said...

Scott, thanks. I was so curious about this book. Getting a book on the shelves is a brilliant tie-in to the show. Glad it's worth it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love the show and wondered how the book was. Thanks.

Randy Johnson said...

I, too, enjoyed the book and would welcome more.

kayerj said...

My son just bought the first season of this show and is going to bring it over and let us watch it. the book sounds like it's worth checking out. If you want to read my review of the Blue Star by Tony Earley it’s here.

Anonymous said...

Good characters are what get me every time - they can be doing almost anything. :)

David Cranmer said...

I still haven't watched the show but your enthusiasm for it has me interested. Fillion was great in FIREFLY.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Scott, thanks for reviewing Heat Wave. I love Castle, too, and didn't realize there was a real Nicki Heat novel. Heading for Amazon right now. :)

Ellen Booraem said...

What a fiendishly clever marketing idea! I'm glad to hear the book is good--aren't you dying to really know who wrote it? I've never seen the TV show but it sounds addictive.

Scott D. Parker said...

Leah - It's definitely worth it. Enjoy.

Patti - If you like the show for what it is, you will like the book.

Randy - Glad I'm not the only one who sees potential for more books.

Kaye - Enjoy that first season. There are some great moments. Then, head on over to Hulu or and catch up with the new season.

Kathy - I think I could watch Fillion and Katic read the phone book and be entertained.

David - Firefly, on Hulu, is a show of which I've only seen 4 episodes. Loved them, as did my wife. We'll get through them, maybe during the Christmas break. And give Castle a try. I think you'll like it.

Linda - I think Amazon has the book on backorder. Stick with it.

Ellen - Although creator Andrew Marlowe is insisting he didn't write it, I'm sure he had some editing chops in there. Castle is, aside from Project Runway [yeah, I love that show] the fastest hour of TV for me per week. I can't wait until 9pm CST and, before I know it, the 10pm news is coming on.

Steve Weddle said...

Thanks for the review. I was concerned about the book's being 197 pages in hardback.

Scott D. Parker said...

Steve - I listened to the audiobook. 6-1/2 hours. Didn't even know how many pages it was.

Barrie said...

With a review like this, I know I have to read this book! And watch the show!

Scott D. Parker said...

Barrie - As I mentioned elsewhere, this was the show I most looked forward to seeing again this fall. Now, my Mondays are my favorite day of the television week (except for the one hour of Project Runway).

Perplexio said...

Didn't they attempt to do the same with Lost? That book tie-in was supposed to be a manuscript of one of the other passengers from Oceanic Flight 800 that perished in the crash. His manuscript washed up on shore. I don't believe that book enjoyed quite the same level of success as Heat Wave however.

Unknown said...

I loved Heat Wave and it's gotten me really interested in that sort of genre. Thanks for reviewing Heat Wave. I love fortress, as well, and didn't understand there was a real Nicki Heat novel.

Thank you dear.

Hendlin Books

Anonymous said...

I got the audiobook as an early Christmas present. It was easy to imagine the characters from Castle in my mind as I listened to the book and I enjoyed the story. The only thing I didn't particularity care for was the person they chose to read it. I think Johnny Heller is boring and I think it impacted the book.

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