Heat Wave

My whole family loves the TV show Castle on ABC. It has great characters, great plots, and great snappy dialogue. For anyone unfamiliar with the premise, the famous, self-centered mystery writer Richard Castle has been following NYPD Homicide detective Kate Beckett as research for his new book Heat Wave about detective Nikki Heat.

In a brilliant marketing push, ABC has actually published the book. It’s the same cover as seen in the show, and some scenes from the book are even referenced. I’ve been watching on Netflix, so I just read the book this month.

In the middle of a scorching summer, top-notch homicide detective Nikki Heat is assigned to investigate when a real estate tycoon falls to his death from a balcony. Is this suicide, or murder, and who might have benefited from the latter–his cool trophy wife, his competent bookkeeper, his striking mob workers, one of his exes, or a suspect not even on the radar? During the case Nikki has to contend not only with a hit man out for personal revenge against her, but also a forced sidekick in journalist Jameson Rook. He is sometimes a help, sometimes a hindrance, and always a mystery unto himself to her.

I’m somewhat torn about it. Heat Wave has all the elements that I love about the TV show, but it is definitely not the book Richard Castle would have written. Honestly, my guess is that the ghost writers were really just the Castle script writers.

Point number one: The book is basically a Castle episode. In addition to Beckett/Heat and Castle/Rook, the team includes a pair of inseparable detectives in Raley and Ochoa, who are ringers for Ryan and Esposito. (In a really annoying touch, they are frequently just referred to as “Roach.”) The plot is very good with lots of twists and is consistent with those from the show, albeit longer. Even the dialogue is the same sharp, witty banter that always makes me laugh.

Point number two: Other than plot and dialogue, the book is poorly written. On the show we are given the impression that Richard Castle is a very intelligent man who not only does his research but is a talented writer. His character has been nitpicky about grammar on more than one occasion. In Heat Wave, however, the prose is just clunky. Several times I had to stop and reread sentences to try and figure out what was going on. The author throws around slang and idioms in an attempt to make the book seem gritty and real, but instead it sounds forced. This contrast in quality between dialogue and description makes me put my money on script writers.

Point number three: Jameson Rook. We know Castle is egotistical, but he’s not an idiot. I doubt he would make a character so obviously based on himself, and then on top of that create romantic tension between Rook and the character based on the person with whom he himself has tension. I mean, really.

I did, however, really like getting to see the investigation unfold from the perspective of Nikki Heat, as the show centers more on Castle. It’s fun imagining how Beckett would have felt when reading the book, as she does in the show. Maybe impressed, probably annoyed, and definitely vulnerable.

Overall I really enjoyed the book as a supplement to the show, and will be reading the next installment, but because of the writing quality wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t a Castle fan. Even the print in the paperback version is almost unreadable.

Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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