Nikki Heat is also having issues at work – both good and bad. Her Captain is under enormous pressure to clear more cases and this has left him short tempered with the rest of the detectives. In addition, Internal Affairs keeps showing up to talk to him. Heat tries to talk with him, but he pushes her away. Adding to the tension, Heat has taken the written test for a promotion to Lieutenant and scored the highest among all applicants. If she does well on the oral exam then she is a shoo-in for the promotion. Why does this add tension? Because there is a rumor that if her Captain loses his job, and Heat makes Lieutenant, then she might be fast-tracked into the Captain’s position at her precinct.
Heat goes to investigate the death of a man found at an S&M parlor. He turns out to be a clergyman. When Heat goes to his church to investigate she finds out that another detective had already been there hours before – her Captain. This definitely makes her wonder what it is that Internal Affairs is investigating him for. As the case goes on and gets more complicated, it becomes obvious that the Captain is involved, just not how he is involved – on the right side or the wrong side. (The book is dedicated to Captain Roy Montgomery – the Captain character on the TV show. Those who have seen the third season finale will know why.)
When Rook finally does return he ends up helping Heat try to crack the case. She needs support because the case might even lead all the way to Police Headquarters and the people who will determine if Heat makes Lieutenant or not.
This book is the best of the first three. If a single person is writing them then this person has gotten more skilled with each one. Another possibility is that the first two were perhaps written by one person and this book by another, hence the change.
One thing this book does is increase the number of characters in Heat’s precinct over what appears on the TV show. The author is not constrained by a budget, so there are several more detectives, multiple murders being investigated simultaneously, and a lot more locations. Unlike the show, which is also constrained by a running time, the book does not just have someone quickly confess, or have immediate answers on fingerprints, medical exams, etc. It can be more realistic than the show.
This book ends with a severely injured major character, much like the TV show’s third season did. In the first episode of Season 4 this book had been published in Castle’s world. Beckett mentions to Castle that he must have had a hard time writing that scene considering everything he had gone through with her “in real life”.
The second book broke the fourth wall (or whatever the book/show equivalent is) by having events happen in the second book only to then have the same events happen later on the third season of the show. This hurt the illusion that the Castle character on the show is writing the books. This third book does not really make that mistake. There is a very brief mention of the death of a violent cop named Mad Dog (a character that would show up in Season 4, but not die), but that was minor compared to the key plot points in the second book that got re-used in season 3.
If you liked the first two books, then I definitely recommend this one. It takes this series into “legitimate” mystery franchise territory.