by Cynthia Chow
Information on how to enter to win a copy of Frozen Heat at the end of this review, along with a link to purchase the book and help KRL at the same time.
Frozen Heat picks up after the events of Heat Rises, with journalist Jameson Rook recovering from the gunshot wound he received while heroically taking a bullet to protect NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. While the romantic duo do their best to expand on the definition of just what constitutes as physical therapy, their dedication to recovery is interrupted by the discovery of a suitcase stuffed full with a frozen corpse. More shocking than this, though, is Nikki’s recognition of the initials scribbled inside the suitcase. Namely, her own, and they are written inside the suitcase stolen from the scene of the unsolved murder of Nikki’s own mother ten years ago.
While Nikki is determined to solve this homicide that must be related to that of Cynthia Trope Heat’s, Rook soon realizes that Nikki attempts to block any inquiries into her family, and each time he attempts to chisel down her walls she throws new ones up. Only attempts on her life and the death of someone close to her force Nikki to look into the mysterious life of Cynthia Heat, once an extraordinarily talented musician who gave up endless opportunities to become a piano instructor for children. Unfortunately, Nikki gets herself sidelined from the investigation by a headline grabbing police captain and an incompetent detective who literally pushup bras her way into the case. With one avenue closed, it is Rook who forces Nikki into expanding her detection overseas and into the complex life of her mother.
It’s impossible to discuss the Nikki Heat novels without making comparisons to ABC’s Castle, as the original premise of the television show was for the mystery writer Richard Castle to immerse himself within the NYPD homicide squad and shadow Detective Kate Beckett in order to gain inspiration for what would become the Nikki Heat novels. Since the Heat novels are a product of the television show Castle, the progression of the relationships between the characters in Frozen Heat closely matches those of Castle. Nikki and the detectives of the 20th precinct are mourning the loss of their beloved captain, Nikki and Rook are in the midst of a passionate but undefined relationship, and most importantly, Nikki is forced into making a decision over how much she will allow the unsolved murder of her mother to affect her current life. While Rook continually battles his own jealousy of the men attracted to Nikki, it’s actually the emotional barriers that she has placed around her heart that will prove to be the biggest obstacles to their ever having a true relationship.
Fans of the television show will not be disappointed in this latest Nikki Heat novel, as it has all of the romance and wit prevalent in the very popular series. Rook continually leavens the tension with his wit and jests, and the close relationships between the characters are a joy to witness. Unfortunately, the detectives of the 20th appear less than one might have hoped, but the continual banter and snappy dialogue that makes them so popular on the show shines whenever they are present. The plot gets a little muddled when things go international and the novel veers into espionage territory, and it’s easy to lose count of the times that Nikki and Rook are followed, shot at, or kidnapped.
The novel is strongest when the novel centers within New York and around the very complex and damaged Nikki Heat. The reader can understand why the fictional Richard Castle has become so obsessed with her and her equally complicated (and fictional) inspiration, Kate Beckett. The release of Frozen Heat is timed to match the release of the DVD set of the 4th season of Castle, and it’s a smart move that will surely please the many fans of both.
For fans of Nathan Fillion, there is again a nudge and wink to his Firefly followers with the reappearance of Detectives Malcolm and Reynolds. For Dr. Horrible fans, a Hammer impacts events as well, but sadly he doesn’t burst into song. And while there is no freeze ray involved in this fun novel, Frozen Heat stands on its own as a well-written detective procedural and proves to be a surprisingly strong novel for a fake mystery series written by a fictional bestselling thriller writer.
Check out KRL’s review of Richard Castle’s other Nikki Heat books, Naked Heat and Heat Rises and Heat Wave, along with two interviews with him! And you can check out our reviews of Castle’s Derrick Storm e-novellas here & at KRL Lite.
To enter to win an e-book copy of Frozen Heat, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Frozen”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 13, 2012. U.S. residents only.
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