by Cynthia Chow
One needs to approach “Richard Castle’s” A Brewing Storm with a certain attitude. First, the author is a character on ABC’s hit detective television show, Castle, which is based on the premise that the celebrity author of somewhat cheesy best-selling action-spy novels has burnt out writing them and is looking for inspiration from the “real” NYPD homicide unit. Those Nikki Heat mysteries (Heat Wave, Naked Heat, Heat Rises) have been published in the real world under the name Richard Castle and are actually fun to read for fans who can compare the books’ characters to the television characters. These new serialized Storm novels are a little different, as they stick to the action-spy genre with all of the clichés that could possibly cause an author to eventually tire of writing them and attempt to end them in as dramatic–and final–manner as possible.
There’s not too much subtlety in A Brewing Storm, as the characters are named in the James Bond tradition of leaving little to the imagination. Former CIA agent Derrick Storm is brought back from the cold–and to the rest of the world, dead–to aid in the recovery of the kidnapped stepson of a powerful Texas Senator, Thurston Winslow. The straight-laced, by-the-book FBI agent April Showers disapproves of Storm’s involvement, especially when it means that he accompanies the money drop-off with the victim’s bosomy fiancée, Samantha Toppers. Naturally, things do not go as planned, and it’s up to Storm to figure out which of the many enemies of the conservative Democratic Senator are responsible for the kidnapping, double-crosses, and leaks.
A Brewing Storm is a reliable action thriller, with a hero who continually invites the agent who despises him (for now, anyway) to his bedroom as a cover that hides the psychological trauma he suffered from past bad missions and a failed relationship that continues to haunt him. As this is a serialized novella, readers should expect a cliffhanger ending that will lead to the next in the series, A Raging Storm. While there could have been more nudges and winks to the tropes of the spy novel, A Brewing Storm sticks to the formula with less of the wit and sarcasm prevalent in the Nikki Heat novels or in the television show. However, this Derrick Storm thriller delivers as a political spy novel and travelogue for the Washington DC area. For a fake thriller written by a fake author, A Brewing Storm is genuine fun.