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ABC’s hit show Castle is not only dominating the Monday night airwaves—it is also conquering bookshelves all over the nation with the third Nikki Heat novel, Heat Rises. For those who do not know, the Heat novels that Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) based on the gorgeous Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) are tie-ins to the show. The books are credited to the fictional Richard Castle, but in real life they are written by a mysterious member of the Castle crew who has yet to be revealed. Rises is an intriguing, danger-laced romp through the world of crooked cops, dangerous ex-military men, and corrupt political figures.
Heat Rises was originally released September 20th of last year but was recently released in paperback. It is preceded by Heat Wave and Naked Heat, and will be followed by Frozen Heat, which has been slated for later this year.
The story is centered on homicide Detective Nikki Heat and an investigative journalist named Jameson Rook. The novel focuses around a murder that entangles Heat, Rook, and her co-workers, Detectives Raley, Ochoa, Hinesburg, and Captain Montrose, with many unexpected twists and turns. There are many similarities to the show—a tongue-in-cheek joke for the characters on Castle as well as the loyal Castle fans—but since Rises is a novel, it can take certain liberties with its content. For instance, curse words and sex scenes are permitted as well as in-depth moments between the characters, such as conversations about their day-to-day lives or extended looks into their pasts. It also allows the mystery to unravel at a slower pace since the plot is not limited to 42-minutes like an episode. These elements work to the novel’s benefit as it creates a wealth of tense, action-packed moments as well as funny, heartwarming ones, whether it’s Heat chasing down criminals or kicking back in her apartment with Rook.
Heat Rises picks up with Nikki Heat investigating the supposed suicide of Father Graf, a priest, found dead in a New York bondage club. The bizarre marks on his skin and the strange place his body is found leads Heat deep into the underbelly of New York, where she speaks to all kinds of people, from other clergymen to people who frequent the bondage circuit, to solve the case. Heat is also up for the position of lieutenant in her precinct, which adds pressure from her superiors as well as her co-workers.
Meanwhile, Rook has been on assignment in another country taking down a drug lord, and leaving Nikki feeling a bit lonely, as they had been dating before he left. However, to her shock, she finds out he has been in New York for a couple of weeks when the paparazzi photographs him coming out of a swanky party with his ex-girlfriend. Furious, Nikki pushes aside her anger and continues pursuing the case without trying to contact him to find out why he didn’t call her when he returned to the states.
However, as Nikki examines the events leading up to Father Graf’s death, Captain Montrose steers her away from certain aspects of the case, which frustrates her. She attributes this change in his behavior to the recent death of his wife and the investigation Internal Affairs has put him through, but she learns that Captain Montrose may actually be a suspect in Father Graf’s murder. The case gets heated as she is forced to choose between following the orders of her commander, who had previously been her friend and mentor, and discovering the truth about Father Graf’s murder, whether it deals with her Captain or not.
Later, Rook finally shows up at Nikki’s place and explains himself. She reluctantly accepts his apology and the two reconcile. He no longer rides along with her as he did in the previous novels because she feels it is too dangerous, but he does stick around to help her piece together the odd elements of Father Graf’s death.
The writing style used in Heat Rises is astounding. It has all the best parts of a classic crime noir story, but it keeps everything modern with hilarious one-liners and plenty of fun pop culture references, including a shout out to Nathan Fillion for his role as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Joss Whedon’s Firefly. There is also a shout out to Stana Katic for her role in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
The characters are all vividly depicted and easy to picture both as their fictional selves and as representatives of the Castle characters. Many of their traits are taken directly from the show, but they also have their own hang ups that make them different, which is the entire appeal of reading the Nikki Heat series.
The mystery itself is a pulse-pounding enigma for most of the novel, and there are several dramatic moments that rival the show. It is far from predictable, but some seasoned fans may know where the plot is leading because of their knowledge of the show.
The only thing that detracts from the quality of the novel is the length. It is easier to keep track of suspects on Castle because we are given both faces and names, but in the novel, it is harder for the names of suspects to stick in the mind.
Overall, Heat Rises raises the stakes and does not disappoint by the end. There is no better way to beat the heat this summer.