Reviewed by Cal C.

Heat Wave, ostensibly written by Richard Castle, requires a little bit of background before I can dive into the review. Castle is a television show currently running on ABC starring Nathan Fillion as a famous crime novelist named Richard Castle. His previous series of crime novels finally came to an end with the death of beloved protagonist Derrick Storm, and Castle needs a new muse. He calls in a favor with the mayor and gets partnered with gifted homicide detective Kate Beckett. Together, they solve crimes, and it’s from there that Castle draws his inspiration for Heat Wave. ABC had Heat Wave written up and released, in large part as a promotional stunt for the show’s second season. As a marketing tool, it’s undeniably clever. The question, however, is whether or not it also works as a novel.

For fans of the TV show, the book can’t be missed. It maintains much of the show’s easy, pop-savvy banter that holds it above many standard police procedurals. The mystery is engaging, with enough potential suspects, dark pasts and seedy revelations, very much in the same vein as those on the show. Even character interactions are handled in the same manner as the show – the easy camaraderie between the two less experienced detectives who work with Heat, the semi-hot, semi-hostile back-and-forth between Heat and ride-along journalistic superstar Jameson Rook – making the book an extremely comfortable read, while the layered fictions of the show and the book give it a surprisingly complex charm.

[amazonify]1401310400[/amazonify]It won’t win many converts, however. The beginning of the book is clunky as the author tries (and fails) for a pulp noir aesthetic that doesn’t read well, and while the stylistic failure is dropped relatively quickly in favor of a more successful tongue-in-cheek tone, it is nonetheless disruptive. The characterization is lacking, ripped almost fully from the more fleshed out show’s primary characters, giving much of the cast a cardboard cut-out feel. Furthermore, it’s unconscionably brief, turning it at just under 200 pages, with few unpredictable twists, and that includes the book’s steamy romance.

As a marketing stunt, Heat Wave is innovative and fun, an excellent way to expand the show’s universe and something to keep fans engaged between seasons. As a novel, however, it seems relatively anemic. Not bad, definitely enjoyable, just not all there.

Cal is a young, underemployed librarian and a frequent contributor to Read/RANT comic book reviews. He’s currently living in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with his family and using the post-grad-school grace period to read and write as much as he can.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.