(Post by Tommy)
Just who is Richard Castle? If you have to ask that my friend then your literary finger is very far from the pulse of the mystery world. Richard Castle is the darling of the New York mystery scene and has been for the last ten years. He first broke into the field of mystery writing with In a Hail of Bullets, the winner of the Nom DePlume Society’s Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature, though he is probably best known for his Derrick Storm series that ended four years ago with Storm Fall. Recently, Castle has been hotter than ever with the release of his newest detective character: Nikki Heat, based on real life NYPD detective Kate Beckett.
Nikki Heat, for those of you who do not know, evolved out of Castle’s research into the NYPD that he conducted by shadowing and assisting NYPD detective Kate Beckett, or so he told me at a swanky publisher’s dinner this winter in New York. Either way, helping Beckett or not, Castle’s writing has shown itself to be very much like good wine; it only gets better with age. Rick Castle’s Nikki Heat has brought readers inside the long closed world of the NYPD and has given us a wonderful cutting edge thriller series that has the entire mystery world buzzing.
What sets Heat apart from even Derrick Storm is the depth of characterization that takes place with Heat and her fellow detectives Raley and Ochoa. Though the character of Jameson Rook, a magazine writer shadowing Heat much the way that Castle shadowed Beckett, does indeed bear marked resemblance to Castle himself, the character gives us a fascinating window into what Castle’s experiences with the Twelfth precinct have been. One of the big selling points of the series is the steamy on again-off again relationship between Heat and Rook. Though both real life parties deny it, there has been rampant speculation on page 8 that the two of them are in fact romantically involved.
The other thing that draws us to Rick Castle’s Nikki Heat is the emotion that can be found if you make a little effort to read between the lines. As you read both further in each book and further in the series as a whole, you can see the affection that Castle feels not just for Beckett but for 12 precinct detectives Ryan and Esposito and the recently deceased Captain Montgomery.
The saying goes that art imitates life and in this case I’m very glad it does because it has brought us the wonderful world of Nikki Heat from the fantastic mind of none other that my favorite mystery writer, and occasional poker buddy Richard Castle.
-Thomas Wilkerson, Modern Lit Magazine
March 19th, 2012
A note to all readers, the above piece was written as though I had bought into ABC’s wonderful story that Castle is real and the only fiction is the Nikki Heat books. While I’m sure many of you may think that the idea of tie-in books for a television series is just another new way for a giant media conglomerate to make more money, and while they may indeed be raking in a pile of money on this, ABC has also done everything they could to make these books an absolute joy to read. For fans of the television show who have yet to grab a copy of one of the books, go out and get a copy of Heat Wave right now!
The book reads like something that could only spring from the wonderfully diseased mind of Richard Castle. The books characters are not exactly carbon copies of the show characters but they are definitely thinly, or maybe not even so thinly, veiled versions of Fillion’s Castle and Stana Katic’s Kate Beckett. The best things about these books is that they are able to explore the characters of Rook and Heat, basically Castle and Beckett, in fashions that the show cannot or will not. The biggest of these explorations, of course, is what a relationship between Castle and Beckett might look like.
This relationship, played out through the proxies of Rook and Heat, jerks through ups and downs worse than most roller coasters, but it also gives us the thrill of finally seeing Castle and Beckett together, something most fans have wanted to see since the first episode. The books also take an affectionate jab at the characters of Esposito and Ryan and the friendship and partnership the two have by naming their book characters Raley and Ochoa and dubbing the duo ‘Roach’.
For lovers of the show these books are an absolute joy to read, and for those who have never read the books they are still a wonderfully witty and entertaining way to pass several hours as you tear through their compelling stories. The best thing that ABC does with these books is that they go to somewhat ridiculous lengths to preserve the idea that Richard Castle is a real person and these books were written by him. The dedications, author bios and photos, and acknowledgments are all written in character. The books are dedicated to Kate Beckett and other members of the show’s character list, the photos are all pictures of Nathan with his trademark smirk in place, and the bio is a short writeup of the fictional author Richard Castle.
ABC’s attempt to make Castle a real boy, much like Pinocchio, doesn’t end there. With each book release they host several ‘author signings’ which Nathan attends in character as Castle and where he signs the books and other merchandise of the fans lucky enough to be in the New York area.
In short, if you’re thinking of giving the Castle tie-in books a pass simply because they are a television tie-in series, don’t. They’re a blast to read, even for people who aren’t fans of the show, and they add that much more depth to the world of the already pretty amazing television show that they were spawned from.
Thomas Wilkerson, BookPeople bookseller
March 22nd, 2012
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