Heat Rises

Every time we watch a few episodes of Castle, I experience the irresistible urge to read another one of the Nikki Heat books. It’s a compulsion, I can’t help myself. I know there’s another potato chip in that bag, and it’s calling my name.

The third Nikki Heat book is Heat Rises, and so far, they are maintaining the illusion that the books are written by Richard Castle. What can I say? So far, it’s working for me. As a matter of fact, it’s working pretty darn well. The Nikki Heat books may be mind candy, but they are very tasty mind candy.

Heat Rises starts out with Heat and Rook enduring a separation in their slightly undefined relationship. However, the lack of definition in their relationship is more a question of whether their heated fling has turned into an exclusive relationship that involves four-letter words like “love”. All Nikki knows is that she misses Rook pretty badly while he is undercover in South America doing research on one of his dangerous in-depth articles, this time on illegal arms trafficking. He’s out of reach and she’s starting to want to know where they stand.

And it’s the middle of a very cold winter in New York City, and she’s also missing the warm body to sleep with at night. And not just for sleep.

Then the dead body turns up. In a dominatrix’ dungeon, strapped to a piece of bondage equipment. Unfortunately for the victim, where he was found is the last place he should have been seen, dead or alive. The homicide victim turns out to have been a Catholic priest.

The situation goes from bad, to worse, to crazy.

Her captain investigates the victim’s residence, alone. Then Internal Affairs starts breathing down his neck. Captain Montrose hasn’t been himself since his wife died a year previously, but something about this case sends him totally off the rails. He boxes Nikki in, hamstringing her investigation.

Meanwhile, Rook returns, and screws up. He has dinner with his editor, and gets his picture splashed all over the gossip columns, before he comes to see Nikki. The future for their relationship starts looking none too hot.

Last but certainly not least, the results of Nikki’s Lieutenant’s exam come in. Well, the rumors of those results leak out, all over the place. Nikki Heat scored higher than anyone in decades. Suddenly there are administrators from 1PP courting her as a rising star, while her Captain’s star is falling through the floor of his office, along with his entire career.

Suddenly her world collapses. She takes her investigation of the priest’s death out of the box the Captain has imposed. A professional hit squad guns for her. The Captain eats his gun. And Internal Affairs takes her shiny new, almost there promotion and doesn’t just whisk it away, but suspends Nikki Heat from the NYPD.

So who does she turn to? Jamison Rook.

Escape Rating B+/A-: If you’re looking for a few hours of pure escape, it’s all here. There’s a murder to solve, there’s a relationship to figure out, and there’s absolutely wonderful cop shop banter to chuckle over. I couldn’t put this one down.

I knew it had to parallel the third season of Castle, so I was looking for that, but at the same time, there are definitely differences. The case that brings Captain Montrose down, and why, is not the same one that brings Montgomery down. It does have to do with something from his past, but that’s the only similarity. And that’s part of why Heat Rises was so good. It used the story from the show as a jumping-off point, but didn’t slavishly follow events.

The dedication of the book to Montgomery is excellently done. I love the way that the books refuse to break the fourth wall. I’m looking forward to Nikki Heat’s next case, Frozen  Heat, in September.