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Saturday, December 31, 2016


4 stars out of 5

Honestly, my rating is closer to 3.5 stars (not possible on most book ratings websites) - but it's written well enough to round it up to 4. That said, those expecting much more than a book that reads like a TV show script most likely will be disappointed. It also helps, I think, to be familiar with the Castle TV show on which the book series is based; the supposed "author," Richard Castle, is the character, a mystery novelist, played on the show by Nathan Fillion. I was a big fan, although by the series' eighth and final season, the show had pretty much dissolved into just plain silliness and the main reason I watched was to see the hunky Fillion.

The same can be said about the books. This is No. 8 in the series; somehow, I missed out on No. 7, but I'm not really complaining. This one, like the No. 6 Raging Heat, which I did read, makes for a relatively fun and quick read (I polished it off in a single day). It's well written and the personalities of the characters from the TV show shine through, but as police procedurals go, it's not close to what I'd call outstanding.

Here, New York police captain Nikki Heat - who is based on TV show character Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic - has married Jameson Rook, the book series' name for the well-known, uber-wealthy mystery writer and title character played by Fillion in the TV show who serves as a police consultant (are you still with me)? At the station, Heat and her crew watch a video in which a woman is brutally murdered in the name of ISIS; the first task is identifying her (and perhaps her killers) by way of a fuzzy video. But at the end comes an even more ominous situation: Rook, the killers announce, is the next-in-line victim.

To complicate matters even further than they already are, Rook is gone much of the time early on, tagging along with a "rogue" Presidential candidate somewhat in the blustery style of current President-elect Donald Trump (with a bit of the aw-shucks, down-home country barbecue flavor of former President George W. Bush thrown in). Rook is, it seems, writing a pre-Election Day article on what he's really like. Having him away, of course, puts Heat on a roller-coaster of worry that she can't protect him.

Meanwhile, her mind is totally blown when she sees a "homeless" woman she's sure is her mother. But that can't be right - her mother was murdered years earlier, dying in Heat's arms. Unbeknownst to Heat at the time, her mother was a spy - and eventually, the murderer was captured and the case was closed. Now, of course, Heat's world has been turned upside down; and as might be expected by TV show fans, she won't rest until she finds the truth about what happened to her mother. 

The rest of the book centers around investigations of the videotaped murder, keeping Rook safe and, to a lesser extent, chasing down the story of Heat's mother. The ending, I must warn, is a cliffhanger; one part of the investigative efforts goes nowhere in this book. Judging by that, I'm thinking the next one in the series, assuming there is one, will delve into the silliness that made the last couple of years of the series so ho-hum.

Along the way here, though, I did get a special kick out of the part of the story that takes place in Lorain, Ohio - maybe an hour from our home and a city we visit at least once a summer to see and photograph the Lorain West Breakwater Lighthouse and the beautiful rose garden in Lakeview Park. In this story, it's described as a city full of bars that cater to steelworkers. 

"They're the kind of places that pretty much serve both beers," a Lorain police official tells Heat at one point.

"What does that mean?" Heat asks.

"Bud and Bud Light," was the response.

Yeah. My kind of town.

High Heat by Richard Castle (Kingswell, October 216); 304 pp.

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