Book Review: Heat Wave

richard-castle-heat-waveCastle is easily one of my favorite shows on TV right now, thanks in large part to Nathan Fillion.  As the title character, he brings so much glee to crime fighting (comparable to Po in Kung Fu Panda at times) that it is not hard to love the man.  Not only that, but he brings humor and a lightness to this procedural, something which has been missing from the genre (and is largely to blame for why I don’t watch some of the big name entries in the genre).

As a tie in to the show, Heat Wave is set up as the first book that Castle wrote based on the time he has spent with Detective Kate Beckett, basing the main character largely on her.  It is a fun novel in which we follow Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook during a murder investigation.  As someone familiar with the episode structure of the show, this is appropriately set up as a novelization of an episode, though longer.  There are the usual red herrings, sexual tension, dead bodies, chases, etc., but the one thing that it is not is an episode of Castle.

Let me break that sentence down for you.  Though the novel is set up to be something different than the show (with different characters), the fact that these characters are based on the two leads of the show makes it impossible not to compare the two.  Which is why the praise of Castle as a character is such important.  For a man praised for being a best seller, but more importantly, a man who makes Castle a necessity to watch (not to downplay any of the other actors, because Castle without them would be a crime), I just didn’t feel his presence in the writing.  Maybe the problem is that I have been rewatching all 3 previous seasons of Castle recently, but I just couldn’t help expect more from this based on the source material.

While dealing with this throughout the chapters, I came to realize just how important the performances are in creating the characters of the show, something that was obviously lacking here.  A writer can only put so much into the pages of a script before relying on the actors to fully evolve the words and bring emotion and understanding to them, which doesn’t quite work in novel form, which is overcompensated for here through over-explaining.  For example, what can be sad with a look from Beckett (Stana Katic) towards Castle was explained over and over again here, with inner thoughts such as, “Oh sh*t, she thought, what was that? I can’t be attracted to this guy. No way.”  Just because we don’t have performances to watch does not mean that we are incapable of understanding human interaction.  Give us the explanation that Heat got lost in Rook’s eyes for a brief moment when she realized how far into her personal space he was impeding and we can put two and two together.  No need to dumb it down for us.  And while I’m at it, let’s stop saying/thinking “shield.”  It’s ok to say badge!

As events from episodes past show up in the book, instead of thinking, “aw, he’s writing what he knows like a good author should,” I couldn’t help but use it against the book, further showing how having Castle to compare Heat Wave to is detrimental to the novel.  With that said, it was a quick read that helped me get through the winter hiatus of the show, and I am sure I will read the other novels sometime soon.

Final Grade: 3.5/5

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