Fiction: “Heat Rises” by “Richard Castle”

heat risesOkay, heck with this.  Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying my new job. (Basically, I’m loving the quiet and the fact that I don’t have grown men arguing with me over having to pay for shit that they bought [yet – I am working in taxation now]).  But this whole, “free-study time” from eight until noon every day is starting to drive me bonkers.  I suppose it’s possible that there isn’t a proper training structure in place because it’s (most likely) been years since the government’s hired anybody in this division, but come on!  I am a former trainer!  I’m not going to learn anything if the only thing I’m supposed to do is read bulletins online!  Give me a project!  Teach me how to do something!  Anything!  Grant me at least a new servitude!

Ahem.  Anyway.  Basically, shut up, I’m going to write this review while I’ve got a bulletin up online so that it looks like I’m studying or whatever.  (It also doesn’t help that the woman I’m supposed to be working with is “too busy” to give me anything to do, which basically means that my presence here is taken as evidence that she’s going to be forced to retire, and what is with me and crazy officemates?  At least this one understands how the US Postal Service works.  Although she is a hummer.  Big turn-off.  I like people who can remember the lyrics.)

So hey!  I read a book last week!  The weekend before the Fourth of July was the annual book sale in my hometown, so my mother and I each took ten bucks or so and partook in the festivities. And, in addition to a couple more of the J.D. Robb novels, I was able to get my mitts on the next Richard Castle novel, which I’d been looking or at least a couple of years.  Hooray!

I admit, it has been a while since I read one of these, and it took me a couple of chapters to get back into the swing of things – mainly, I forgot where Det. Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook were in their relationship.  I’ve kept fairly up-to-date with the Castle series, and the Beckett/Castle relationship had them walking down the aisle this year.  But they had four years of unresolved sexual tension (and frustration) before that. So I forgot that in Naked Heat, Heat and Rook had become exclusive.

And really, my shoddy memory can be somewhat forgiven, seeing as how it’s been almost three years since I read Naked Heat, and then I spent more time talking about the awesomeness that is Nathan Fillion and finding funny in-jokes than I did actually discussing the plot. (That’s not to say that I’m not going to mention any in-jokes with this book, because there are some, and they please my little geek-lovin’ heart, but hopefully I’ll actually say something about the plot this time, too.)

The story starts — as all episodes of Castle do — at a fresh homicide.  A priest has died in the middle of a bondage scene in a sex dungeon.  (Clearly books can get away with less censorship and crazier ideas than ABC Primetime.)  As Nikki investigates, she learns that the priest has ties to a Columbian nationalistic group (or something) called Justicia y Gardia (again, or something), as well as her boss Captain Montrose, who’s been acting rather fishy of late.

Meanwhile, Nikki has also taken the Lieutenant’s test, which is the first step towards a promotion.  She meets Zeke Hamner and Phyllis Yardborough, both of whom are in the Commissioner’s Office, and both really want Nikki to move up the corporate ladder.

But when a crisis occurs (which I won’t get into, because spoilers) Nikki is suspended due to an Internal Affairs probe.  Because she’s Nikki Heat, and because policework is her life, not just her career, she uses her resources (namely Rook, Raley and Ochoa — and I will always refuse to call the latter twosome “Roach,” because again, that feels just stupidly lazy) to solve the case from outside the precinct.

In the end, Nikki gets reinstated and promoted, but she elects to remain a detective, because in her heart she’s a detective – she needs to be searching for clues rather than making schedules.  She leads from within rather than from above, and everybody respects her decision.

She and Rook also become closer, but their relationship is secondary to the action of the plot – both solving the case and Nikki’s dilemma.  And I like that the viewpoint in the novels is so clearly Nikki’s.  If you want to get extremely meta about this whole enterprise, “Richard Castle” has created Jameson Rook as his stand-in character, and Nikki becomes the main character because Castle’s not writing about himself, he’s writing about Beckett. And I think that the show Castle does a very good job highlighting Beckett’s strength as a character, but who is always mentioned with regards to the show?  Castle.  Who’s the lead actor?  Nathan Fillion.  Even when I use “actor” as a non-gendered term, people still mention Nathan Fillion before Stana Katic.

So anyway.  After watching a show for six years that focused on the guy (an admittedly ruggedly-handsome guy, who I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to freak out over if I ever happened to run into him and actually be able to have a conversation with him), it’s always enjoyable to see things from the other side, as it were.

Here’s where I was going to point out all the in-jokes that I really appreciated, but … I’m home now, typing this up from my lunchtime notes, and I can’t remember where I put the book.  It’s probably underneath the pile of clothes and potato chip bags on the corner of my couch (MOM DON’T WORRY IT’S NOT THAT BAD), but I’m sitting in my armchair sweating up a storm because the humidity decided to return like a bitch, and let’s all remember that I am, at the deepest part of my heart, lazy.  I know there was a moment where Rook caught a glance at himself in a mirror and said, “I really am ruggedly handsome, aren’t I?” and there was the obligatory Firefly reference, and I’m sure there was some other stuff, but this time?  Y’all are gonna have to find the book on your own.

Grade for Heat Rises: 3.5 stars

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