Welcome back to the Castle Summer Book Club! This week, we’re discussing chapters seven through twelve of Naked Heat, the second Nikki Heat book.
We begin chapter 7 with Nikki held captive, and this scene is nicely suspenseful (even though we know she’ll be okay in the end). Dental tools were a good choice of weapon for this scene, since they’re something everyone has experience with, and many people fear; they also bring the added frisson of everyday objects in threatening situations. And once again, Nikki rescues herself. This makes sense, of course – she’s the cop – but it’s a nice sign of respect for Beckett’s abilities and women in general that Castle didn’t fall into the too-common trap of having the man rescue the woman even if the woman is supposed to be the professional.
I had hoped that we’d learn more about some of the early people of interest in this middle section of the book – especially about Towne’s secret daughter and maybe her assistant – but instead, we got some more potential suspects. The story of Soleil Gray and Reed Wakefield is an interesting one, though, and they’re the type of people who would naturally crop up in an investigation regarding a gossip columnist – as is the third murder victim, Derek Snow. (Also, a costume drama about the illegitimate son of Ben Franklin? Sign me up!) In this section, we also finally got a connection (via blood and a weapon) between the two seemingly separate murder cases, and the fact that Padilla worked as a limo driver means that it shouldn’t be too hard to link him to the world of celebrities in which Towne moved. Due to both the case and Rook’s profile of Nikki, the two spend a fair amount of time mulling the role of gossip and celebrity in modern society, and we’ll look at that a little more closely next week, once we see how things tie up and what that does or doesn’t say about celebrity gossip in the end.
And now, if you’ll indulge me, a quick digression – I have run into this “eccentric writer won’t use computers” thing in several books and shows over the past few months, and it’s starting to grate. I won’t object that it isn’t possibly as common as it looks on TV, because, you know, neither are most things you see on procedurals. But it feels like a lazy storytelling shortcut used to simultaneously make someone seem “quirky,” avoid dealing with back-ups when the plot calls for “just one copy” of someone’s work, and add in retro investigation scenes of detectives trying to read typewriter ribbons or tape together shredded documents. And the idea of a celebrity gossip writer, especially, who eschews modern communication and journalism methods just beggars belief.
It’s always interesting to see what attributes Castle assigns to Rook, his alter ego. Some of them are clearly aspirational: here he’s a marathon runner who knows what to do when taken hostage because he survived a hostage situation in Chechnya. But in a fun twist, he also secretly writes romance novels under a female pen name – romance novels that Nikki has read. I hope we hear more about that (and get an excerpt, maybe?); presumably Nikki will manage to use the knowledge as leverage of some sort or reveal it to Raley and Ochoa in an amusing way. And, of course, Rook is ridiculously jealous when Nikki’s old boyfriend shows up. I thought at first that perhaps Castle was writing this book around the time Beckett’s old boyfriend Will Sorenson entered their lives, but the timing doesn’t work – he was in fact writing this book while she was dating Demming.
I noticed a few cute call-outs to Castle in these chapters – the idea of using Nikki’s bathtub as a bunker, for one, and her joking (maybe) claim that her safe word is “pineapples.” Also, I’ll admit that I hadn’t really been looking for Firefly references, but two detectives named Malcolm and Reynolds working together was too obvious for even me to miss. Has anyone noticed other fun references, to Castle or Firefly or anything else?
Next week we’ll finish up Naked Heat, so this is your last chance to get in your guesses as to the murderer’s identity! (You can see the schedule for the whole summer here.) Happy reading!
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)