Heat Wave


By Richard Castle (not)

The Short Take:

This taut, engaging little mystery is what Richard Castle might have written if he were a real person and not the fictional lead character on the ABC series Castle. It was the same witty patter and gallows humor you find on that show. Best of all, it’s surprisingly good.

Why?

Let’s leave aside this book’s pedigree for a minute and treat it as a free-standing entity. It’s fast paced, fun to read, and the mystery holds up under scrutiny. Really. It’s certainly not literature for the ages, but few mysteries really are. Since it is lightly larded with current cultural references, it’s clear the author(s) just want to entertain you right now. And he/she/they succeed.

Now for the provenance of this book, in case my opening statement confused. There is a TV show called Castle. The main character is a mystery writer named Richard Castle. In the TV show he is tailing a female NYC detective as research for his next book. Heat Wave is that next book. There’s something about the pure audacity of this effort that cracks me up. The actor’s picture is even on the back cover as the author.

So, who really wrote this short, sassy detective mystery? Well, 15 minutes googling was not enough to find out. I encountered speculation it might be James Patterson or Stephen J. Cannell (who both provided book blurbs and have appeared on the TV show). I suspect the show’s actual writers deserve the honors, however.

A Little Plot:

A real estate maven falls or is pushed from his posh Manhattan apartment. Turns out anything and everything could be the cause: extra-marital affairs, major business problems, gambling debts. Detective Nikki Heat and her team chase down suspects while  celebrity journalist Jameson Rook (catch the last name) tags along to research a magazine article.

Crimes and clues accumulate. Heat and Rook irritate and attract each other. The plot is just twisty enough to keep you from being sure you’re right if you think you have it figured.

Oh, and I watched every episode of this show last season, so I can attest this is not a rehash. And the book really is for sale. The whole thing just makes me smile — a little foolishly.

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