While traveling, I read Heat Wave, the novel by “Richard Castle“. I enjoyed it, since it’s just like an episode of the TV show.
Jameson Rook (instead of Richard Castle) is a writer studying the NY police department. He’s a celebrity journalist instead of mystery novelist, so it’s considered background for an article instead of a book. Nikki Heat (instead of Kate Beckett) is the attractive, hard-shell cop he works with. There are two supporting detectives who wisecrack, Rook’s mother, an outspoken actress, and Nikki’s medical examiner friend who’s the only one she opens up to. No daughter mentioned, though.
The biggest difference from the show is that the book puts us in Nikki’s head. That means that we see her thinking about how she has to fight her attraction to Cook every so often. Which leads to, yes, the sex scene, another departure from what’s happened on TV so far. I liked getting more sense of Heat’s/Beckett’s character this way. Following her viewpoint is a fresh take, given that Beckett is so reserved and hidden (although she’s always the NY cop).
The book also portrays a couple of things that would be difficult/expensive/explicit for television, such as the swollen, bruised face of a post-plastic surgery-treatment trophy wife, and more drastically, an attempted rape scene in which Nikki fights off a huge bruiser while naked. The plot features the death of a real estate mogul with a $60 million art collection, a timely choice to tie into today’s economic worries. To justify the title, the city is in the midst of a blistering heat wave, although every time it’s mentioned how hot it is, I was surprised, since I’m used to seeing the characters bundled up in coats in the fall.
The book is set during the early days, while the characters aren’t sure what to think of each other, and before Castle/Rook knew of Beckett’s/Heat’s motivation to become a detective. It’s a brief, breezy read, perfect for vacation. I was impressed by how carefully they’ve handled the connections with the show. The dedication in the book is the same as they said it was on TV, as is the page number of the sex scene.
I’d love to know how well it reads for someone who doesn’t watch the show — but why would they pick it up? I wonder when/if the real author’s name is ever going to come out; apparently, it’s a well-kept secret among mystery writers and fans. You can read the first ten chapters of the novel at the show’s official website. Obviously, the book did well, since there’s a sequel, Naked Heat, due out in September, likely to tie into the upcoming third season of the TV show.
(Trivia: Dan Castellaneta has played Judge Markway on two episodes of Castle. In the book, there’s a bald judge in a yellow shirt whom Heat keeps thinking looks like Homer Simpson … a character who is voiced by Castellaneta. Fun connection!)
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