Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Heat Wave, by Richard Castle (hardcover, $19.99)

It's a fine line between reality and imagination sometimes. Richard Castle is a figment of TV producer Andrew Marlowe's imagination, but Heat Wave is a real book being sold under "Richard Castle's" by-line.

"Castle" is an ABC-TV show. It is about Richard Castle, a mystery novelist à la James Patterson, who pulls some political strings and gets to tag along with homicide detectives to get "background" information for his books. This means he mostly gets to hang around too-glamorous-to-be-a-real-working-detective Kate Beckett. Finally, as part of the TV show, Castle produces a book and has an inaugural signing at a bookstore. The book? Heat Wave, starring Nikki Heat, based on the fuming-but-flattered Kate Beckett.

So what have we here, for real? The book Heat Wave, starring Nikki Heat. The characters, dialogue, and plot are strangely similar to that found in an episode of "Castle." Yay for the characters, dialogue, and plot, I say! Needless to say, I love the show: a romantic comedy/drama, with a mystery. Nathan Fillion, late of the wonderful "Firefly" TV show and "Serenity" movie, is Castle, and he brings an admirable lightness to the part.

Now to the book. Tying the snappy dialogue together is a rather plodding narrative. If a book could be schizophrenic, this book is it. It's as though someone took a "Castle" script and ham-fistedly laced some narrative to tie the dialogue together. The TV show portrays author Castle as pompous but literate. The pomposity comes through in the fake-real "Acknowledgements" at the end of the book, but the literate part is harder to find. No doubt a real writer was found to create Heat Wave, but I have the impression that this isn't the book he or she would normally write. Thus the awkwardness. It becomes a little smoother (or I was worn down) later in the book, but never truly reaches a point of synthesis.

Nevertheless, I heartily endorse this book. It's like a "Castle" episode with benefits. Nikki Heat and "Jameson Rook," Castle's alter ego, are allowed to venture, romantically-speaking, where Castle and Beckett are not. Fun.


  1. Came to the store for the first time today. Awesome bookshope. Thanks for the cookie.

  2. I got "Heat Wave" for Christmas and enjoyed it. Not the kind of mystery I typically buy unless I'm hard up (ie at an airport or similar) but I too love the show and it was sort of like a bonus episode or a special feature from a DVD. I don't know that I would be willing to pay full price for it, though...it's a hardback, after all, and I'm kind of cheap. :)