2018 Critiques: Book Critique - Driving Heat (Nikki Heat #7)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: If you like crime plots and follow closely how day-in and day-out law enforcement personnel solve a case along with tinge of romance and a boat load of twists that spin the plot like a top, then this is a perfect series to read through.

Driving Heat is the seventh book in the series of Castle Books written by fictional author Richard Castle from the TV series Castle (portrayed by Nathan Fillion) published in September of 2015. The book is released right before the final season – Season VIII - of the TV show Castle (My review of the TV series here) aired for the first time. The plot is set seven months after the previous book Raging Heat (My review of the book here) with Detective Nikki Heat finally becoming Captain Nikki Heat of the Twentieth Precinct, following the death of the previous Captain – Captain Wally “Iron” Gates. Also we see that Nikki and Jameson Rook – two time Pulitzer winning journalist and her romantic partner – are engaged.

Richard Castle intensifies the plot again by creating relationship strains between Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook with this plot. However this time around the strains are caused by professional reasons rather than personal. What other emotion is remaining that Castle uses against them, I wonder. Of course, Betrayal. And Nikki faces Jameson’s betrayal in her next case that is emotionally also tied to her - the brutal murder of her shrink Lon King. To add fire to fuel Jameson Rook is somehow in the middle of it and doesn’t want to reveal the reasons behind why he is involved from the other side of the coin this time. Castle subtly introduces the importance of trust in a relationship for Nikki and Jameson. As much as they are committed to them, they learn that trust is also key – but in a hard way.

Castle expanded Nikki Heat’s team with new additions – considering that she is now a Captain, new additions are needed – by bringing in Detective Inez Aguinaldo. We met her first in Raging Heat when she was working with the Southampton PD. Along with Inez, her team consists of Detectives Sean Raley, Miguel Ochoa, Randal Feller and Dan Rymer, of whom she makes Detective Raley and Ochoa as co-squad leaders. Now that was a stupid move by the author Castle from my perspective cause co-chairing any position always brings in hurdles more than needed when personalities clash with positions. How will Castle have Captain Nikki Heat resolve this would be worth reading. The case doesn’t stay simple either for Nikki to focus on so many other non-case elements that keep popping up. More victims start piling up and suspect list keeps increasing. Not to discount the additional administrative responsibilities that add to her courtesy of her new title and role. Her very first case as Captain begins to get complicated.

For the first time in the series I felt that Richard Castle is all over the place with this plot – too many leads, too many suspects, too many motives – while the crux of it is essentially very simple. He could have toned it down a bit. Why did he tangle it so much is something only Castle can answer. Another thing I noticed that the characterization of Nikki Heat is changing subtly. She is going from that cool-headed nature to once-in-a-while impulsive hot-head detective. Not sure what Castle’s intention was but it is not strengthening Nikki Heat’s portrayal at all. However the most interesting part of the case was to see the detectives work old school with minimum to no technology available that allows to get things done at lightning speed. Brings me to a thought that one should not forget old school at any time. You never know when it could come to be useful again.

Castle has some scenes that reflect directly on Season VIII of the TV show, albeit a bit modified – Jameson Rook briefly thinks of becoming a PI as opposed to Castle in the TV Series becomes a PI; Jameson Rook dreams of Nikki and him spending at a dude ranch in Diamondback, Arizona which in fact in the TV Series they have an entire episode filmed there.

Richard Castle again leaves a few doors open that could potentially continue in future books. All in all another good book for those lazy days that will not disappoint you, except if you can ignore the long way Castle uses sometimes and the numerous suspects and clues he throws at the reader.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) It’s still a mystery as to who wrote truly wrote these books. Obviously not the fictional character Richard Castle or Nathan Fillion the actor who portrayed the role. Unlike Murder, She Wrote books (Check my reviews of this series here, the actual author of these books is really hidden deep.

2) Grammatical / Historical / Geographical / Character / Mythological Errors:

a. On pg. 152, line starting “He barked out…”, it should be “He barked out a laugh, and she…”. The additional “barked” is not needed.

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