Sunday, October 09, 2011

Fiction Squared - Book Review: Heat Rises by Richard Castle

ABC Television is trying the old tried and true "play within a play" formula to promote the dramedy series, Castle. They are doing it with a twist, however, by using a literary tie-in. Castle has as its title character hot-shot novelist Rick Castle, who uses his friendship with the mayor to gain permission to tag along on crime scenes with an NYPD homicide team led by Detective Kate Beckett. Although initially his presence is begrudgingly accepted, Castle's mystery writing sensibilities make him a helpful addition to the team. Before long, sparks begin to fly between the writer and the detective, sometimes not in a good way as, much to her chagrin, Castle writes a racy detective series based on Det. Beckett.

The marketing gurus at ABC started producing the books their
title character was supposedly writing on the show as a nifty little promotional tool. Rick Castle will be seen towards the end of the season with the mock-up of his latest book featuring a New York detective named "Nikki Heat" who is shadowed by a hot-shot journalist named Jamison Rook. (The marketing department is sending a wink to their readers: In chess, "castle" and "rook" are interchangeable names for the same piece.) The books have plots loosely based on the series season just ending: Heat Wave (season one, 2009); Naked Heat (season two, 2010); and Heat Rises (season three, 2011), which had its debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

While I love the show, I had zero interest in the books until I came across a rumor Stephen J. Cannell, a writer whose work I have enjoyed for decades, might be one of the ghostwriters. The books were small, so I decided to give one a try. And with that, I was hooked. When I read the books, I actually hear the actors in the television show speaking the lines. The novels are written in the same style as the show and are a really fun read. If you're a fan of the television show, give one of the novels a try.

[Disclaimer: Unlike the television series, in the books Nikki Heat and Rook are romantically involved. The books are slightly racier than the show, but the writers keep it pretty PG. However, you have been warned.]