by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.
When I faithfully tune in each week to watch an episode of ABC’s Castle (or even the rerun marathons on TNT), it’s not to follow labyrinth plots or twistedly complex plots. No, I’m watching for the pleasure of the witty banter between Richard Castle and the NYPD detectives, the still shiny romance of Castle and Kate Beckett and of course the one-line witticisms spouted off with brilliant comedic timing by Nathan Fillion. When I read a Nikki Heat novel “written” by the fictitious Richard Castle though, it is for the surprisingly well-constructed and very well crafted mysteries that are true police procedurals and not romantic comedies.
Deadly Heat begins with the investigation of a body found incinerated inside the oven of a pizza restaurant, an incident familiar to viewers of the television show but one that only serves as a jumping off point into a murder that seems to be only the latest in a series of creepily organized killings. Although Homicide Detective, Nikki Heat, would never allow herself to give less than her full attention to an investigation, she is still reeling from the escape of those responsible for her mother’s death in 1999, a murder that changed Nikki’s course in life. A further irritation is the publication of a magazine article about Nikki’s obsessive pursuit of Cynthia Heat’s killers written by Jameson Rook, who just happens to be Nikki’s new boyfriend. Despite her publicity-hungry captain’s orders to drop her mother’s investigation, Nikki has never let go of her pursuit and she is infuriated when Homeland Security blocks her questioning, especially when it comes in the form of Agent Yardley Bell, the woman Rook stopped seeing once he met Nikki. Awkward!
Thankfully, while the romantic shenanigans provide entertaining byplay, they never truly become a plot device in a “will they or won’t they” situation, as Nikki and Rook have at this point demonstrated to one another how much they mean to one another. The focus instead falls on a serial killer whom the media rather facetiously names “Rainbow” and Nikki’s continual search for answers to her mother’s death that may have national implications. Fans of this very entertaining and well written series will enjoy the witty exchanges between Detectives Ochoa and Sean Raley, as well as the humor that enlivens a very serious murder mystery. In this fifth Nikki Heat mystery, threads that have been woven throughout the entire series get tied together for a resolution that is satisfying and entirely cohesive.
It would be easy to get overly Meta when discussing these novels, as they are mysteries written by a fictitious author who is basing his protagonist on an equally fictitious “real” character. So in order to enjoy these novels without spiraling down into a rabbit hole of confusion, I simply read them for their enjoyably complex plots and characters who are very likable and who interact realistically with tons of witty banter. While fans of the television show will enjoy the continuation of characters that are extremely close to those portrayed in the television show, mystery lovers who have never tuned into an episode should find the books just as entertaining and easy to follow. While all of the humor and compassion of the very popular show are contained within the novels, they should be appreciated for their action-filled plots, ironically realistic characters and sheer charm.
Check out our review of the very first Nikki Heat book, Heat Wave, along with a fun “interview” with Richard Castle.
To enter to win a copy of Deadly Heat, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Heat,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 5, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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