Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review - Heat Wave

Heat Wave (Nikki Heat #1)
by Richard Castle
Date: 2009
Publisher: Hyperion
Reading level: A
Pages: 224
Source: library

In the middle of a heat wave in New York City, a real estate developer is murdered.  It's up to Detective Nikki Heat to solve the case.  Along with Jameson Rook, a reporter who's shadowing her for a story, Nikki and her team assemble the clues that will eventually lead them to the killer.

But then another murder occurs and things begin to heat up... in more ways than one.  Nikki must sort out the clues -- as well as her growing feelings for Rook -- and solve the case before it claims any more victims.

This is quite possibly the weirdest reading experience I've had in quite a while.  If you don't watch a lot of TV, you might not know that this novel is actually spun off from a TV series called Castle.  It's about a mystery writer named Richard Castle who shadows an NYPD detective named Kate Beckett as research for one of his novels.  This novel, in fact.  Yes, the premise here is that Richard Castle actually wrote Heat Wave (and the sequel, Naked Heat, which is also available in real life) after gleaning information about the inner workings of the NYPD from his partnership with Detective Beckett.  This led to a bit of mental confusion as I was reading the book.  I can't say it wasn't fun, though.

For the first half of the book, I kept thinking in terms of Castle and Beckett, because Rook and Heat are pretty much carbon copies of them.  For the second half of the book, I was thinking things like "Wow... this Rook character is really a self-insert, isn't he?" and "Wish fulfillment, much?"  And then I'd have to remind myself that -- hello?! -- Richard Castle is a fictional character and he did not really write this book.  It's so meta.  As a result, I was shaking my head a lot and giggling to myself as I was reading.

As for the book itself, I'm not sure that it could really stand alone were it not tied into a successful television show.  The writing is so-so, and the whole thing reads like an episode of Castle.  I'm inclined to think that the readers of these books in the fictional Castle world are not quite as savvy as our real-life readers; I find it a bit implausible that this sort of novel would make you a publishing superstar.  However, as a fun, fluffy diversion it works just fine... and it's even more fun if you're a fan of the show.

I noticed quite a few really weird typos, but I'm not sure if they were actual editing problems or merely errors that happened during the conversion process (I read this as an e-book).  Other than that, the writing was okay...  It's not a literary masterpiece by any means, but it's still an awful lot better than some of what's out there.  There is some swearing and some sex and Nikki Heat apparently likes to be naked (all the stuff the writers can't get away with on the TV show), so it's not for kids.  But it's a pretty enjoyable whodunit and I'm not sorry that I gave this one a go.  I think I prefer the show more than the books, but at least now I better understand the references to the books made by the characters in the TV series.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 2/5
Originality: 3/5
Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 3.43 out of 5


  1. This was a fun book. You're right - it does read like an episode of Castle. While I was reading, I noticed that there are little to no descriptions of the characters, especially the secondary ones. but I could picture them all perfectly because of the TV show. It's definitely a book for fans of the show, I'm not sure if others would really enjoy it.

  2. I actually read this book without having ever seen the tv show, or knowing that the author was a fictional character from the show. I thought it stood up as a police drama by itself.

    My full review is at