Book: Nikki Heat Series (Book 1 to Book 6)
Author: Richard Castle
Year: Between 2009 and 2014
Bookhad Rating: ❤❤❤
A friend of mine suggested the Nikki Heat series because of two reasons.
One, I liked the series when I watched a few episodes on TV.
Two, she thinks that lately we have been reviewing a lot of books that are heavy on the scale of literary delight but not usually lighthearted and fun.
So, she sends me the 6 books that are written by a fictional writer. Richard Castle is the writer of the Nikki Heat novels and is based on Kate Beckett, the NYPD Detective. Castle tags along Kate Beckett in the ABC Crime-Romance drama and adds perspective from a crime writer point of view to solve cases. The series producer and writers still haven’t opened up about who the real writer is, so I’m going ahead with the fiction of calling Richard Castle as the writer.
The stories in the book were surprisingly good. I mean, frankly, I never expected them to be anything better than a 2 to 3 on a scale of 10, my expectations were that low. But when I read them I was surprised how well they were written. Okay, so it wasn’t award winning material but it wasn’t something that I wouldn’t like to read. One thing you should know at the outset is that I have come to realize that I’m a sucker for romance. I can lap up any kind of romance. I would love to say that I don’t like soppy romance, but I would be lying. I can take any kind of romance. Richard Castle and Kate Beckett romance is still the kinds that I can readily accept in public without being afraid of being judged.
The books are around 250 to 300 pages, so it’s not very short and neither does it drag. The narration is good. I wasn’t lost with complex and ungainly sentences. I suppose that comes with the expertise of writing for a TV show, but, it was nice. I loved the character of Jameson Rook, the fictional name of the fictional Richard Castle.
Notice the parallels between Rook and Castle? Nice touch, eh?
The Jameson Rook of the book is very much like the Richard Castle of the TV show and his sarcasm and timely humour is what keeps the novel and the series going. He reminds me a little of Chandler Bing of Friends, although Rook’s comments and one liners are a bit more refined and hard-hitting because of the use of some real neat puns. Rook is a good looking guy with brains and humour. Between Heat and Rook, I’d pick Rook easily as the better defined character.
While, Rook is very similar to Castle I don’t think Heat is a perfect copy to Beckett. The TV series has a more loving and less calculating Beckett, while the Nikki Heat in the novel is a little more pragmatic all the time. Today, being a bit more emotional is linked towards weakness and perhaps they wanted a strong Heat for the books. I like Beckett better than Heat.
Rook falls hard for Heat and gives in everything to the ‘us’ part of the relationship. Heat, weighted down by the guilt of not having solved her mother’s murder is guarded and a bit clinical about giving everything away to the relationship. I may be taking sides here, but more than once I got this distinct feeling that Heat only expected Rook to understand and accept all the time without giving him the same leeway that Rook gives her. Heat is the stronger character between the two. She knows when to pull back and compartmentalize her feeling so she can concentrate on her job. Maybe that’s what actually makes her a great cop.
Rook, on the other hand, has this charismatic playboy image. Of course, he’s a crime novelist with a streak of intelligence. But he is also a two-time Pulitzer winner because of his investigative journalism on various war write ups and interviews. Like Heat mentions more than once, Rook was a name dropper, but he was actually well connected. Rook was poker buddies with the Mayor and the Judge and James Patterson (The guy who DOESN’T write his books) and Lehane (a good novelist, mind you) and Bono (who doesn’t love this guy) and a host of other big shots.
The stories in the novels are fast paced and, I might as well use this phrase, page turners in their own way. I read it with an eye out for the cutesy love angle, but the mystery and the crime solving part weren’t bad at all. Like I said, it was a page turner. Every book had its own shares of brilliance and insipidness, but the overall effect was decent stories with a good amount of good technical crime solving. It wasn’t merely about Rook and Heat romance, which I thought this would be all that the stories would eventually be about.
Rook-Heat solve one murder after another and make a formidable team which ultimately leads to a case connected to her mother’s murder. After a decade of fighting it she finally gets a link to it.
Now, this part I loved. An amateur writer would’ve gone full out taking the scope only on the mother’s murder and making it all about how Heat fights out the battle. But, Castle makes a good point of circumstance and poignancy when the biggest battle Heat fights is with herself. It’s amazing how the quagmire was set and Heat made to walk into it. She loses friends in her fight because she changes her perspective. The internal debate makes her into a typical basket case where the person believes that the entire world is against her. It takes the novel a notch higher.
Heat and Rook have a strong link, but it is based on respect. Again, I might be taking sides here again, but I didn’t see the same, at least not in the same intensity, respect emanating from Heat to Castle. More than once, Castle goes all out, completely out of his normal trajectory, to do his thing and one tiny mistake flares Heat into anger. But I might be wrong. I’m probably judging her so because we see a lot of internal musing through Heat’s eye and almost never from Rook. So it’s probably a case of mind over matter.
Anyway, I’ll end this by saying a genuine thank you to Utkarsha who suggested this for all the good reasons (she knows I’m a romantic at heart) and I’m glad I could finally write this. I dedicate this review to her and her awesomeness.
NB: The reading order of the book is as follows:
#1- Heat Wave
#2- Naked Heat
#3- Heat Rises
#4- Frozen Heat
#5- Deadly Heat
#6- Raging Heat