Welcome back to the Castle Summer Book Club! This week, we’re finishing up Naked Heat, the second Nikki Heat book, with chapters thirteen through twenty.
So! Our murderers were baseball player Toby Mills’s handler, Jess Ripton, and his hired hand, better known as The Texan. While this wasn’t particularly surprising, the various plot threads did all wrap up neatly. Ultimately, this became a story about talented young people – Mills, Reed Wakefield, Soleil Gray – whose sudden fame and fortune led them to a too-easy life of partying and irresponsibility. It’s easy to see how Castle might see himself and his own wild days in these characters; there but for the grace of God (or, perhaps, Alexis) goes he. But, tellingly, the villains of the story aren’t the celebrities themselves, but rather their handlers and the other people who exist in their orbits. Mills, Wakefield, and Gray come across as misguided; Ripton is the evil one.
Castle gave his alter ego a big breakthrough in these chapters: Rook is the one who figures out how to find Cassidy Towne’s missing chapter that includes information that will break the case. While I’m sure this had a bit to do with Castle wanting to make himself look good or justify his presence on the team – or wanting to please readers by having his leading man do something awesome – it fit organically into the story. It felt like the sort of breakthrough Rook really would make. And, of course, it helps that Nikki got to be the hero again and help rescue him. The issue of Nikki’s ex-boyfriend is resolved as well, and it’s interesting that, when it comes down to it, Nikki effectively picks Rook because he’s the better person, not just because she likes him.
I thought it was a nice touch to have Rook finally make Raley and Ochoa talk out their issues with him, but it seemed like this was probably meant to parallel something I couldn’t quite remember. Does anyone recall tensions on the show between Castle and the boys around the time he was writing this book? On the other hand, I did catch the jab at Detective “Schlemming.” Castle was barely even being subtle about working out his Demming-related feelings there.
Next week we’ll start Heat Rises, the third Nikki Heat book. I’m curious about how they’ll set this one up. Rook was involved in the investigation in the first novel because of his article about Nikki, and he had a connection to the cases in this novel because of another profile he was writing. But will that – or some other kind of personal or professional tie to a case – happen again? That would start to stretch the bounds of credulity, even for these books. On the other hand, it’s possible that Rook and Nikki’s relationship is strong enough by now that he will be a presence in her life no matter what, and so he’ll naturally be involved, especially if a case involves people with whom Nikki knows he has connections. We’ll see! (You can see the schedule for the whole summer here. Happy reading!)
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)