A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.
Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren’t her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.
Most of the joy from this book comes from seeing where the show and Castle’s imagination/wish-fulfillment collide. This is definitely a tie-in book, where knowing the show’s central characters and premise is vital to the experience. That being said, Ryan, Esposito, Beckett and Castle are delightfully recognizable and well-translated into fictional counterparts. I grinned quite a bit when I came to a book scene inspired by the show. With nice pacing and a simple mystery, Heat Wave is a great way to delve deeper into the television series and maybe see it through Castle’s discerning eyes.
The book’s narrator epitomizes the gruff, stoic detective of the hardboiled mystery. This is all well and good, but his murky voice contrasted a bit too much with the book’s overall tone and Nikki’s character. The hard-boiled voice also made it hard to distinguish moments of humor and lightness of tone. The narrator’s voice is steady, almost droning at times and I found myself zoning out rather than hungrily following every word. To be honest, I was surprised the audiobook producers didn’t get Nathan Fillion to read it. Though he doesn’t have a “detective voice,” Fillion would definitely have been able to convey the story’s lighter and darker moments without a vague flatness. And the book could have been marketed as “read by author.” If I’d read instead of the listened to the audiobook and imagined Caste’s voice, I probably would have enjoyed the Nikki’s tale a lot more.
Heat is a tough, smart detective, dedicated to her job and city she’s vowed to protect. But underneath her serious and no-nonsense exterior is a person filled with kindness and immense compassion. Minus the less than stellar narrator, Heat Wave is a fun, fast read and I would recommend the non-audio book to anyone looking to spend some more time in Castle’s world.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5