Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book – Raging Heat

Note: This is part of my ongoing reviews of the Castle television show’s seasons, the books written by “Richard Castle”, and some events related to the show.  For the parent post with links to all of these, please click here.

Raging Heat is the sixth Nikki Heat book by “Richard Castle”, the fictional writer on the TV show Castle.  The actual author of these books is speculated to be one of the real authors who have appeared on the show (i.e. Michael Connelly, James Patterson) or one of the show’s creators (i.e. Andrew Marlowe).  Like the first five books, this one has events or plot points similar to things that have happened on the Castle TV show in the prior season.  This book is more standalone than the last one.

While Raging Heat picks up a few months after the last one left off, it can be read on its own.  The author re-introduces the characters at the beginning, just as most serial detective novels do.

One note about the timeline: much like Sue Grafton has done with her alphabet series, which is still set in the 1980s when the first book came out, the Nikki Heat series is now falling behind the present.  Because the books have come out once a year for six years, but all six books have taken place over a little more than a couple years, a major event in this novel is Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 storm that hammered the New York City area.

The fourth book established Nikki Heat and journalist Jameson Rook as a real couple, not just people in lust who hook up.  That continues in the fifth book as their shared experiences create an intimacy that Heat never thought she could allow herself to have.  This sixth novel starts with their temporary separation as journalist Rook has been away on assignment.  She misses him and that bothers her.  What happened to the independent woman she prided herself on being?  She has questions about how serious their relationship has become, and if it’s too serious. Watchers of the TV show will recognize similar themes to the Castle and Beckett characters from the fifth season.

Rook soon returns, of course, just in time for Heat to investigate a bizarre murder where the victim had to have fallen at least a thousand feet…right in the heart of New York City with no buildings that tall around and no flights in the area.  Heat is sure she has the right person and arrests him.  Unfortunately, Rook thinks she’s got the wrong guy, and Heat can’t help but feel that he’s somehow betraying her by not having her back.  Rook thinks she’s forgetting the first part of being a good detective: question everything and don’t leap to conclusions.  This just adds more strain to the relationship.

As always Raging Heat has some fun references for people, including ones that are outside both book and show.  There is a section of it that takes place on Long Island, although the local police chief Heat deals with is not like the character on the TV show from when Castle and Beckett went to his house on the island.  There is a mention of a certain drunken crime novelist who lives in the area near someone else who is being investigated, though.  And the region of the island is known as Beckett’s Neck.

Characters continue to grow across these novels.  The Ryan and Esposito characters in the book (Raley and Ochoa) get to be the lead detectives on their own homicide investigation.  And something that started a couple novels earlier with Beckett and a possible promotion to Captain comes up again in this novel.

The Nikki Heat novels always come out in the fall.  This one is no exception.  Watchers of the show might be wondering how that could happen this year, given the events at the end of Season 5 and the beginning of Season 6.  Well, there is an Acknowledgements section at the end of the book as usual, but it’s not written by “Richard Castle”.  Instead it’s written by his publishing company who mention that Castle was “unavailable by deadline” for reasons they “cannot discuss”.

If you liked the first five books then I definitely recommend this one.  This has become a good mystery series that can stand separate from the TV show.

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