Castle about midway through the season last year. (It might have been around the time when ABC "paused" FlashForward for a while during the Olympics)
At first, I thought the premise of a writer getting to shadow a New York cop and her team was a little far-fetched. (Yes, despite the fact that I'm a writer and would love to be able to do that myself) But then again, one can only suspend their disbelief so much for different shows all at the same time. After all, I'd already hesitated on buying a similar premise for The Mentalist (a civilian working with a police force). And for Medium, I still find it easier to believe Allison can communicate with the dead rather than how closely she would work with the DA's office and police force.
But the writing, and particularly the interplay (especially the offhand humour) between the four main characters of the show (the obvious sexual tension between Castle and Beckett) are well done. The mysteries and storyline are intriguing and it's a show we regularly enjoy.
So when I found out that Hyperion books actually produced a real-live print version of Heat Wave, the first "Nikki Heat" novel that Richard Castle has written and published as part of the storyline of the television series (as inspired by his time with Kate Beckett), I had to check it out. I mean, I just love the fact that there's this Brechtian element to the whole process -- nevermind the ingenius marketing of a book. Think of the gigantic viewer base for a television show and see if that can spin-off a following of readers -- intriguing concept, because it's not a media-tie in novel based on the characters on the show -- it's a novel referred to in the show and "written" by one of the characters -- beautiful three-dimensional fictional interplay. I fell in love with the idea immediately. And it made me pick the book up. I love anything that makes people pick up books.
Another interesting thing they've done with the television series is introduced some real-life mystery writers into the storyline. I fondly remember a poker game where Richard Castle is hanging out with Stephen J. Cannell, James Patterson and Michael Connelly, (all of them real-life best-selling mystery writers and playing themselves on the show) as if they're all great buddies. Another beautiful superimposing of reality and fiction.
I just finished the novel. At just under 200 pages, it was a quick and easy read. And it was interjected with much of the mirth and ribbing and humour as appears in the television series. The mystery itself was interesting and engaging, and overall it was an enjoyable tale. I will admit that, as I read the novel I was distracted with picturing Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic in their roles as Castle and Beckett, and comparing the characters of the novel with the characters of the television series.*
One main difference between the novel and the television series is that the sexual tension between Jameson Rook (the writer) and Nikki Heat (the cop) comes through a lot more quickly in the book. In the television series, that kind of tension is stretched out and teased over many seasons and that works nicely for a weekly hour-long series. But in a novel, you do it differently, so the characters actually get hot and heavy about mid-way through the book. I like the way they've written it into the book, because that not only works on its own in the novel, but also further teases the folks watching the television program.
Naked Heat, the follow-up novel, is due out this fall. It might even be out. And I'll admit, I'll be looking for it. I'm intrigued to keep reading, to find out where the fictional Richard Castle will take his storyline.
* Just an interesting aside, but in the quick and brief research I did while writing this post, I learned that Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are both Canadian actors. Nathan is originally from Edmonton, Alberta and Stana is originally from Hamilton, Ontario (yea, go Hamilton!)