Pros: Strong story with good laughs and inside jokes for TV show fans
Cons: Still over written
I am hooked on the fun mix of mystery and humor that is ABC's Castle. So when I learned that they were publishing the books that Nathan Fillion's writer character on the show was supposed to be writing, I just had to sample them. Heat Rises is the third of these books, and I think it's my favorite to date.
This book opens with NYPD detective Nikki Heat called to the scene of a murder at a bondage club. The victim is naked with no ID, but Nikki and her team soon learn the victim was a parish priest. Was he hiding a secret life?
While that's a logical leap to make, Nikki soon suspects that something much larger and darker is at play in this case. A second murder makes this case very personal. As the stakes for Nikki keep mounting, can she uncover the truth?
While there have been references to episodes of the TV show in the first two books, they seemed more plentiful here. I caught several throw away lines that were right out of the show, and those moments made me laugh. They even made a reference to Rook, Castle's doppelganger in the book, looking like Nathan Fillion's character in Firefly. I had to laugh at that reference. Overall, the book seemed to have more of the comedic flavor of the show than the previous two entries, and I really enjoyed that aspect of things.
The mystery itself was very good. Fans of the show will certainly recognize a few of the plot complications and twists that the story has, and that actually added to the suspense for me. The ending absolutely caught me by surprise, and I loved it.
Characters? Well, they are still very thinly disguised representations for the characters on the TV show. As such, I can't think of them as true characters in a book but extensions of the characters on the show. They feel real enough to me, although I think without the TV background, they would seem flat.
As a result, I don't know how to recommend this book to someone who isn't a fan of the TV show. My guess is they would miss most of the fun of the book. The mystery is still fairly decent, but the TV show audience is the first audience. They will absolutely love it. A random reader could still enjoy it, but it wouldn't be nearly the same.
The only real flaw in my eyes is, once again, the writing. While it is still miles above the first book, whoever is really writing these books still tells us too much instead of showing it through the characters. It gets a bit tedious at times, but it's still readable.
Honestly, I wish they did more with these books in the show. The marriage between the books and the show is just so much fun, and they really could do more with it. Even so, fans of Castle owe it to themselves to read Heat Rises.
This review is part of the It's Elementary My Dear Watson! Write-Off and the 4th Annual All Things Disney Write-off since the show is on Disney owned ABC and the book is published by Disney owned Hyperion.