Castle Book Club: Naked Heat Chapters 1-6

Welcome back to the Castle Summer Book Club! This week, we’re discussing the first six chapters of Naked Heat, the second Nikki Heat book.

I’m not sure if this book is actually better than the first one (thoughts?), or if I was just more in the mood for it this week, but I’m enjoying it much more. I made myself stop reading after chapter 6, so I could write about the plot of these chapters without getting confused, but I wanted to keep reading, and that was a nice feeling. The writing seems to be a little less florid and melodramatic, and the mystery is much more compelling.

Actually, there are two mysteries, and I’m assuming they’ll end up being linked at some point, but they aren’t so far. (Are they? Did I miss something?) The first victim was stabbed and bitten – possibly by a coyote – which would have been an interesting enough case if it hadn’t been overshadowed by the murder of gossip columnist Cassidy Towne, who just happened to be Rook’s newest article subject. I thought having the victim be a gossip columnist was ingenious both because it’s an interesting profession and lifestyle in and of itself and because it provides a seamless way to bring in everyone from star baseball players to disgraced congressmen without it seeming too unnatural. And, of course, it ensures that Rook’s connections are useful to the investigation, since he moves in roughly the same circles.

Does anyone have any theories as to whodunnit or how the victims are connected (if they are)? We’re a third of the way through, and if this were a standard mystery novel, I’d assume we’d met the murderer already. But I’m not sure these novels follow the conventions of the genre, in which the suspects tend to be introduced at the beginning and then ruled out in turn; they might be closer to the conventions of the show, in which suspects tend to lead to each other more linearly. So it’s possible that we can’t guess the murderer at this point. My random theory at the moment: Cassidy’s editor got sick of her nonsense – especially with sending everything by courier instead of emailing like everyone else – and decided a high-profile murder, after which he could replace Cassidy with a new gossip columnist who was willing to use the Internet, would be the best thing for business.

Naked Heat starts with an estranged Heat and Rook coming back together because of Rook’s connection to a murder case, which is just the first of many fun winks in the direction of Castle plots. I especially liked the use of Rook’s mother as a source. (And on a personal note, I liked that they met her at Sardi’s, since I’ve actually eaten there.) Do we think that Castle wrote in Ochoa’s sudden marital separation when he found out that Esposito and Lanie were dating, so that the books could mirror “real life” in that way?

I’ll admit I wish we could have seen a bit more of Rook and Heat’s early relationship before their article-related breakup, but I thought the portrayal of Heat’s reaction to Rook’s article and its consequent fame showed a nice level of sensitivity on Castle’s part. Does this bode well for how he’ll handle Beckett’s reaction when and if his adoring fans find out that they are in fact a couple? We’ll have to see what happens if Heat and Rook actually talk through their issues for more hints about Castle and Beckett’s future.

And I haven’t even mentioned that our chapters for this week left us at something of a cliffhanger: Heat was attacked and captured at Rook’s door. There’s no actual possibility of some dire fate befalling her, of course, but I’m curious to see how she’ll get out of it! Presumably we’ll find out next week, when we continue with chapters 7-12. (You can see the schedule for the whole summer here.) Happy reading!

(Photo courtesy of ABC.)

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