Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thoughts On: Heat Wave

Heat Wave

by Richard Castle
Book 1 of Nikki Heat

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads.  She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest.  Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome.  His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems.  As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them.

There’s no mistaking that this book definitely had a “this is like a television series episode type of feel... but choppier and a little amateurish... like fan-fiction written by someone with no knowledge of literature prose... who is trying too hard to narrate the book in an extremely flippant fashion... and so isn’t really doing such a good job.”  Or something like that.

There are a lot of reasons why this book doesn’t work for me, but ultimately I managed to stick with it--kind of like watching the pilot episode of some television series with a good premise, and not quite knowing how I feel about continuing the rest of the series even though I managed to finish that first episode merely out of curiosity for what it will bring.

One thing is for sure, though: I am becoming increasingly curious about the television series behind the T.V. tie in.  If the reviews for this book are any indication, the Castle television series is apparently multiple times more enjoyable than this first book written by fictional author Richard Castle.  So if I ever get that hankering to watch television again, I might just see to picking up Castle and giving it the ol’ marathon go since it’s into seven seasons and might be marathon worthy.

Again… I DO like Nathan Fillion--I was quite the Firefly fan during it’s short-lived television run so many years ago.

Back to the book...

The blurbs for Heat Wave seem more focused on touting the whole Richard Castle as “blockbuster author” and “mystery sensation;” or Heat Wave as TV tie in to Castle... so we know where this book’s marketing lays--there's even a little stamp on the book cover that says "Watch CASTLE abc."  The rest of the blurb is also more concerned with being vague about the plot, with it’s “tough, sexy, professional Nikki Heat” who is assigned a ride along journalist in “Pulitzer Prize-winning” Jameson Rook to research “New York’s Finest.”

I feel like I can’t keep up with this “Best of the Best Characters” deal going on here, but whatever.

In summary, a New York real estate tycoon named Matthew Starr falls to his death.  Everyone around him has secrets and motive to kill; no one appears as he or she seems.  A murder investigation begins and the typical action ensues.

Ya know, I think I’m starting to understand why so many words are used to describe such a mundane plot.  Because, to be totally honest, this is a stock-standard everyday murder mystery with few twists and few surprises.  In TV terms, this is just the standard "murder of the week" formula, hopefully to keep viewers interested without getting too deep into the characters yet--it's actually not bad for a pilot episode... er... I mean first book.  Even though a lot seems to happen in this book, however--murders, secrets, character history groundwork being laid, character interactions and developments being somewhat progressed--very little of it feels significant.

The blurb sounds so much more exciting than the actual events in the book itself.

My thoughts in a nutshell:

What Didn’t Work For Me:
  • The prose was disjointed and too deliberate in it’s delivery, and kind of tacky at times.
  • Scenes of action felt like they dragged on for much longer than it would have taken for the action to actually take place in real life, because of all the unnecessary and wordy details of the action that I can only assume was included to make said action seem more credible as an action.  The urgency of situations can still be construed in writing if done properly, but in this book, a quick suspect raid and chase managed to feel like a flow chart process being discussed in the office rather than simply “just happening.”
  • The characters feel unnatural.  I haven’t seen the television series, but I couldn’t help but keep picturing the main characters of Castle and wondering if this was a script that required the actors’ touch to infuse some personality and life into them.
  • The characters are pretty much unrelatable.  The way they are presented makes them feel like they're these famous people somewhere out there that I can't get to know in a story.  Like I'm just reading some magazine story article about the "Day in the life of..."
  • The “hot sex scene” that everyone is squeeing about didn't feel all that hot--obviously this book wasn’t written by or read by regulars of the Romantic Suspense/Erotica genre.  The sex scene was a typical formulaic “kissing, making out, getting naked, limbs are flailing… then fade to black.”  I’ve read hotter sex scenes… then again, I’ve read more explicit sex scenes not suitable for television audience, and I’m sure Heat Wave wouldn’t try to cross those lines as a TV tie in.

What DID Work For Me:
  • The dialogue could be clever and witty sometimes.  Little things like the short meetings in front of the investigation white board, or the jokey interactions between the detectives and the journalist brought a flicker of amusement to my mind.  It gave the story and the characters a nice down-to-earth feeling that I very much enjoyed in spite of some of the tacky dialogue at other times.
  • This scene stood out to me, and I have no idea why: When Nikki Heat was microwaving the leftover Chinese take-out belonging to Raley as she studied the murder case, and then leaving the “Thank You” note to “Raley!!!” along with post-it with orders for what he’s to do for the investigation, I found myself liking the little foursome a little more and chuckling a little bit.
  • The characters are fabulous on paper... as character bios.  The book does them little justice (see above for my take on the characters) and just seems to be riding the coattails of Castle’s fame, assuming the reader already has a working knowledge of what kinds of people the characters in the book should be; ideally, if written better, I wouldn’t mind continuing to follow this team throughout the series.

My Overall Thoughts:
Heat Wave definitely works for a bored, rainy day read.  It’s not atrocious in execution, but it could’ve been better if the writers cared to actually sell a real book, and were less concerned about marketing their television series.  Although one thing is certain: Their marketing ploy is much more effective than their attempt at presenting a “New York Time’s Bestseller” written by a “mystery sensation” and “blockbuster author.”

I am fully curious and onboard with considering watching Castle if I can make time and get my hands on the series in full.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in November 2014.

A First Impression (originally posted on November 9, 2014)

Well I haven't seen Castle, but I've read the synopsis and some friends might have mentioned the series to me.  But the fact that this book is a tie-in with a TV series written by the fictional Richard Castle was enough to draw my curiosity.

I can't comment on the similarities to the series, but some reviewers are saying that the book reads like an episode of Castle presents.  I'm not surprised since the first chapter is quite fast paced and I'm slightly conflicted about the narration, not sure how I like it because it feels disjointed at some points.

The sarcasm and quips are quick and witty, so at least there will be THAT aspect to look forward to as well as some entertainment concerning the characters.  Since the book ties in with the series, I've got hopes that the crime thriller aspect will be done well.

At least for once I've got an easy imagery of what the characters are supposed to look like since, as some sources on the interwebz has pointed out that the characters are parallel to the main characters in Castle.

And now I'm kind of curious about the TV series... I do like Nathan Fillion...

This update was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in November 2014.

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