Book review: “Heat Rises” by Richard Castle

Let me start this off by saying that I have not seen a single episode of Castle. Tragic, isn’t it? And this is coming from someone who loved Nathan Fillion in Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. The only things I know about Castle is that it’s about a writer (Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion) who rides along with an NYPD homicide detective (Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic) in order to conduct research for his new book.

I have to give ABC serious props for the brilliant idea of co-branding an entire line of crime fiction books to tie-in with Castle. After all, fans of the show keep hearing about the novels that “Richard Castle” writes, so why not give them the real thing? There are two levels of enjoyment in books: the first is as a regular crime fiction reader and the second, deeper level is as a Castle fan who’ll enjoy the little meta moments sprinkled throughout the books. The best thing about the books is that they rise above being mere gimmicks and merchandise to become truly good and fun reads on their own. No, ABC has not yet revealed who the real writer behind “Richard Castle” is.

Heat Rises is the third book in the Nikki Heat series (after Heat Wave and Naked Heat) penned by Richard Castle. The blurb:

Fast-paced and full of intrigue, Heat Rises pairs the tough and sexy NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat with hotshot reporter Jameson Rook in New York Times bestselling author Richard Castle’s most thrilling mystery yet.

The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat’s most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York’s most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads to a dark conspiracy reaching all the way to the highest level of the NYPD. But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove:  Heat Rises.

This book in a word? Entertaining. Yes it’s a crime-mystery novel that doesn’t make light of its subject matter, but the interplay between Rook, Heat, Raley, and Ochoa is so natural and the quips flow just as effortlessly. Even if it’s just Heat and Rook enjoying a night in or Rook attempting to tail a suspect, the little spots of humor in the situation don’t fail. Castle also did a great job in setting up a potential plotline for Nikki Heat 4 (all those unanswered questions!).

The main weakness of Heat Rises is that the Big Bad and the Big Bad’s lackeys aren’t that well-hidden. I already had my suspicions maybe two-thirds into the book and was proven right by the reveal at the end.

The 2nd level of analysis exposes quite a few wink wink nudge nudge moments designed to appeal to fans of the TV show. First, it’s very interesting to read Castle’s book while knowing what he’s experienced prior and during the course of writing it. The depth of his feelings for Beckett come out in the guise of Rook’s feelings for Heat. Castle’s writing of the relationship between Rook and Heat is his way of letting Beckett know that they can work and not just in fiction.

And then there are the meta moments. Oh, the meta moments. This is my favorite from the entire series so far:

Phil Podemski to Jameson Rook [on setting up Rook as a male stripper]: “Sure, guess I could give you a bullwhip and a fedora. We’d market you as Indiana Bones. Or maybe go sci-fi. You sorta look like that guy who roamed outer space everybody’s so crazy about.”

Jameson Rook: “Malcolm Reynolds?”


Then there’s also Richard Castle’s acknowledgements: “To Nathan, Stana, Seamus, Jon, Ruben, Molly, Susan, and Tamala – you remain the embodiment of dreams that come true relentlessly and tirelessly. You always bring the heat.” 😛

All in all, I don’t regret a single minute of the time I spent reading Heat Rises. It was a welcome respite from working on my thesis and something that kept me sane. I highly recommend it for Castle fans and non-fans alike 🙂

Rating: 4/5


  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401324436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401324438