Heat Wave (Richard Castle)

The Plot
NYPD Detective Nikki Heat has two problems: a dead Donald Trump clone whose murder she has to solve, and a journalist who’s tagging around with her while she does it. Plus, it’s really hot out.

My Thoughts
So here we have a somewhat average modern-day mystery-thriller. I’m not exactly a connoisseur of these sorts of books; I much prefer the type of mystery that is generally referred to as ‘cozy’ or (more accurately) ‘puzzle’. I’m not entirely sure where the cozy is meant to be — murder is not exactly warm and fuzzy even if Jessica Fletcher is the one investigating.

It’s short, hardly worth the cover price at a mere 197 pages. It has a few elements of a caper/humorous sort of mystery (a la Stephanie Plum) but it wants to be more hardcore than that. And if that were all this was, then Heat Wave would be pretty readily dismissible, an okay book in a crowded genre, devoured by a few and just as quickly forgotten.

But Heat Wave has a slightly more interesting pedigree: its author, Richard Castle, is himself a fictional character on the television show Castle. So it must be evaluated on this second level as well, as an offshoot of the fictional New York City established in the Castle universe.

For anyone unfamiliar with the television series, the premise is that the best-selling author Richard Castle, friends with the mayor of New York, wants to start writing a new series starring a female detective as his lead character. Through his friendship with the mayor he is given the privilege of tagging around with a NYPD detective. A hot female detective. His new character will be based upon her. Their relationship is defined by banter, some of it friendly, some of it not so friendly, some of it flirty, some of it not so flirty. He uses his authorial contacts and imagination to help her fight crime, she puts up with him and the fact that he bestowed upon his new character the porn-star name Nikki Heat.

Looking at the book as if one is living in the Castle-verse, there is more of interest: not so much the plot, but the subtext. Though Castle and Beckett are not romantically involved on the show (and one hopes the writers are smart enough to avoid allowing this to happen in the future), Castle’s self-insert book character, Jameson Rook (ha ha), manages to do some self-inserting with Nikki well before the mystery wraps up. Does this mean Castle secretly (or not so secretly) wants Beckett? Is he just showing her what she’s missing out on? Is it all a big fake out? Who knows. But it’s this sort of meta-pondering that made the book interesting and not the fairly tired plot. (I mean, come on — the identity of the ultimate criminal was a cliche. It could hardly have been more obvious.)

In Short
For fans of the television series Castle, this book is really a must read. It adds a new depth to the characters (Richard’s especially) and raises questions which can now be examined on the show now that it’s received a full second season order. For fans of mystery-thrillers, eh. By no means is this bad; it’s a decent representative of its type — but it is also very short. I don’t know if there are plans to continue the Nikki Heat series in the real world (in the Castle world more books have been contracted for), but unless one is watching the show I’m not sure it would be worth getting invested in the characters for a mere 200 pages.


9 thoughts on “Heat Wave (Richard Castle)”

  1. *snicker* I like your plot summary.

    How much is the cover price? I don’t see it on the.. er.. cover. :)

    (And I could easily look that up, but read it more as a conversational gambit.)

    If I understand correctly, Monk would be more of the cozy/puzzle type?

  2. The cover price is 19.99. I actually had to go and look it up again because I’d forgotten; I looked it up at one point when I was deciding if I was going to bite the bullet and purchase the book.

    I guess Monk would be. Murder, She Wrote almost definitely. And um. Well, honestly, I’m not too clear on the distinction myself. A clue-laden puzzle murder is definitely distinct from a thriller (and much more difficult to write well; a thriller doesn’t have to play fair in terms of clues).

  3. I have wondered if it would be worth picking up a Monk novelization. I do like Monk, and the series is almost over.

    I think I definitely don’t like reading procedurals. Is that a subgenre in novels as it is in tv? Because I don’t like it when detectives are wandering around talking to people, collecting clues, etc. Or.. or, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. Why I don’t like most of the mysteries I’ve read. Why Sherlock Holmes didn’t bug me.

  4. Well, I think most novels are procedural to some extent, because interviewing suspects and witnesses and victims is sort of the point — you can’t make any connection to the crime, criminals or victims if you don’t have someone interacting with them. And since the detective is usually your hero, the procedure of detecting is how you get them involved.

  5. I always thought a cozy referred to a story where there was a very limited cast of suspects. It varies from, say, a city-wide manhunt for a serial killer. :)

    By that definition, most TV shows are probably cozy mysteries so they can wrap up in an hour. Homicide: Life on the Street would be an exception.

  6. Yeah, I dunno. I thought that was part of it, but current use of the term seems to refer to mysteries without a lot of gore?

    I’ve always been confused by it because in any case murder is never cozy!! (Though I’d like to see a murder by tea cozy…)

  7. *snickers* Someone should write a series where the murder instrument is always some item you’d find in your kitchen. Death by Spatula!

  8. Heehee. Given the proliferation of gimmicky mystery novels lately, I’m surprised it’s not already a series.

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