3.5 stars out of 5
It's a little hard to take the Nikki Heat series seriously - whether or not you loved the very popular Castle TV show that starred the New York police detective (played by Stana Katic) and her Pulitzer prize-winning squeeze, Richard Castle (played by the hunky Nathan Filion). I was a diehard fan until the last couple of seasons, when the shows somehow stopped being fun and I pretty much lost interest. Supposedly, the books are written by Castle; but of course, he's not a real person; the true author, in fact, has been speculated about but never revealed. And like the TV show, the books started out quite fun but may be slipping a bit (the last three, including this one, earned just 3-1/2 stars from me).
This one brings together Nikki and another "Richard Castle" series hero, Derrick Storm - a hulk of a man the CIA calls when something is amiss in the U.S. of A., where CIA investigations are off limits. The pairing, though, seems just plain off. There's plenty of action, particularly on Storm's side of the plot, but I never felt any kind of connection between the two, nor of Storm with Heat's husband Jameson Rook (the name her TV husband Castle assumes in the books) even though indications are that Heat has been friends with Storm for quite some time.
Essentially, what we have are two story lines that, as expected, eventually converge. Ever since Heat's recent sighting of a woman she's sure is her mother Cynthia - a secret U.S. spy Heat had believed was murdered 17 years ago - she's been frantically trying to track her down. In the midst of that, the female U.S. President-to-be has rather inexplicably asked Heat to be her chief of Homeland Security, so there's a big decision to be made. That's even harder since she's banished her hubby from her life, claiming her search for her mother is a dangerous journey and she doesn't want him to be involved (yeah, I never bought that in the TV series, either).
Meanwhile, Storm took part in the raid of a counterfeiting ring that appears to be connected to a nasty group known as the Shanghai Seven. In the process, he begins to suspect that his own government may be working against him, and he turns to his dad Carl for much-needed help. The two story lines begin to come together when Storm finds a tape with Heat's mother's voice on it that appears to connect her to the Shanghai Seven. At the same time, Heat is taking heat in the form of text messages from someone called "The Serpent" warning her to call off the search for her mother.
From then on, the action really picks up - some of it the stuff a Roger Moore James Bond movie is made of that crosses the line of credulity and leads to a rather sappy ending. Overall, it makes for an easy, breezy read that won't tax your brain cells - perfect for reading on a beach or waiting at a doctor's office.
Heat Storm by Richard Castle (Kingswell, May 2017); 320 pp.