Friday, November 6, 2009

We're Having a Heat Wave, a Tropical Heat Wave

heat wave cover

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

I would never buy this book.  But my mom did, so I was willing to give it a shot.  To be honest, I was expecting a train wreck.  It's not as bad as I thought it would be... but that's not saying much.

Castle is a TV show on ABC (see prominent red circle on cover) about a quirky-but-lovable, not to mention ridiculously rich and handsome, mystery writer named Richard Castle.  One day Castle decides to follow a cop around so he can base books off of her.  Ensue witty repartee and sublimated sexual attraction.

As my mom said, Heat Wave is basically like reading along with an episode of the show.  Castle's character is replaced by that of a journalist named Rook (I was wondering how they were going to deal with that--the lynchpin of the show is Castle's and Beckett's bickering, but how weird would it be to have Castle writing about himself as Castle in his own novel?  Think about it), and Det. Kate Beckett becomes Nikki Heat (ugh, terrible name).  The comic relief twins of Esposito and Ryan are in evidence as well. 

So, yeah, it is basically like reading an episode of the show in prose form, except I kept getting distracted by the comically over-the-top pulpiness of writing.  Take, for example, this early paragraph from page two:

Detective Nikki Heat entered her crime scene past the vacant hostess podium of the sidewalk cafĂ©.  All the tables at La Chaleur Belle were empty except one where Detective Raley of her squad sat with a distraught family with sunburned faces strurggling to translate German into a statement.  Their uneaten lunch swarmed with flies.  Sparrows, avid outdoor diners themselves, perched on seat backs and made bold dives for pommes frites.  At the service door Detective Ochoa looked up from his notebook and quick-nodded her while he questioned a busboy in a white apron flecked with blood.  The rest of the serving staff was inside at the bar having a drink after what they had witnessed.  Heat looked over to where the medical examiner knelt and couldn't blame them.

T... M... I....  You can practically hear some hard-boiled detective narrating this book in a grumbly voice.  I get that it's a wink wink to popular crime fiction writers like James Patterson (and btw, check out his blurb on the cover of this book--the little media whore!), but after a while it wears on one.  And by one I of course mean me.

The thing that really bothered me about the book, though, was the character of Nikki Heat.  She is basically Dt. Beckett from the show, but the actress who plays Beckett brings a lot of warmth and likability to the character that's totally missing in the book.  I simply couldn't connect with Heat at all; she's way too much of an automaton.

This is a quick (less than 200 pages), light read, and it isn't a bad book.  I can't really recommend it, though, unless you have absolutely nothing better do to with your time or money.  You'd be better served watching reruns of Castle.

Other opinions:
Socrates' Book Review
Shhh, I'm Reading
Did I miss yours?  Please let me know in the comments!

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