By: Matthew Hunter
The New York Times Bestselling novel Naked Heat, the second installment of the Nikki Heat mystery series, is a very successful sequel to Heat Wave. It reveals more about the background and internal thoughts of the main characters, particularly those of Detective Nikki Heat. And though the novel is credited to Richard Castle, the fictional author from ABC’s Castle, the book was actually written by novelist Tom Straw, who is credited for writing a majority of the novels supposedly written by Castle.
The novel begins when Detective Heat and her two comrades, Detectives Miguel Ochoa and Sean Raley, investigate the murder of an unidentified young Hispanic male. And while she is trying to deal with this murder in tandem with the fallout from the sudden end of her romantic relationship with magazine writer Jameson Rook following the events of Heat Wave, she and her fellow detectives are called to look into a home invasion homicide at the home of Cassidy Towne, a gossip columnist who wrote for the New York Ledger. And who do they find waiting for them at the newest crime scene? None other than the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Jameson Rook.
From here, we see the author’s magic at work throughout the novel. He successfully combines the adventures of several episodes from ABC’s Castle with the author’s original plot revolving around the latest murders in the book. For example, fans of the hit mystery series ABC’s Castle can tell that Rook’s introduction is based off of the happenings from the show’s season three premiere episode “A Deadly Affair,” when Detective Beckett and her team discover Richard Castle at the murder scene of a female acquaintance of his.
Other examples of Straw’s method can be found throughout the book. The abduction of Cassidy Towne’s body from the coroner’s van comes from the season two premiere episode “Deep in Death,” when three armed men steal the murder victim’s body from the coroner van, with Dr. Lanie Parish and Richard Castle being held at gunpoint in the back of the van during the heist. And the whole plot of the book is similar to the events of the episode “He’s Dead, She’s Dead,” when a famous psychic is murdered to cover up the murder plot of a cheating husband-slash-entrepreneur.
Straw also includes very insightful inner thoughts of the characters, namely those of Jameson Rook and Detective Heat. The author allows us these insights because he wants the readers to have a better understanding of who the characters actually are, what drives them to solve these murders, and how they works to solve the murders. An example of Rook’s thinking process is found in chapter seventeen, where we see his “dual personality disorder [had] brought him around to something so basic and obvious he had overlooked because it had become so familiar.” When observing Heat’s thinking process, we see her sizing up her suspects because “the cop in her lived every waking hour on alert.” She searches suspects’ faces for tells, analyzes tactical situations, maintains a realistic train of mind, and comes up with viable solutions, all while the events are unfolding around her and her investigative team.
Tom Straw maintains his ability to give his characters, major and minor, detailed physical descriptions and mental thought processes all the while spinning an intricate web of intrigue and deceit, making the reader question everything they read about the plot with each turn of the page. If you liked Heat Wave, then you will definitely love Naked Heat.