2018 Critiques: Book Critique - High Heat (Nikki Heat #8)

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.

High Heat is the eighth book in the series of Castle Books written by fictional author Richard Castle from the TV series Castle (portrayed by Nathan Fillion) (My review of the TV series here) published in October of 2016. Although the TV Series ended with the final season – Season VIII – in May of 2016, Hyperion Books went on to publish two more books in this series. The first of which is High Heat. And one still see references to the last season in this plot. The plot is set a year after Captain Nikki Heat and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jameson Rook are blissfully married.

Richard Castle again toys with Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook as their blissful marriage life is rocked. But this time the rocking is neither caused by Nikki or Jameson but by American ISIS who have killed a journalist on video and announced that their next target would be Jameson Rook. And Rook is on an assignment for First Press writing a profile about Legs Kline – independent presidential candidate – and is not reachable. And to her horror Nikki catches a glimpse of a homeless person who resembles her mother – one who had been dead for over seventeen years and Nikki had solved her murder case (It was covered in two books and my reviews of those are here: In the fourth book Frozen Heat and the fifth book Deadly Heat. Or did she? Was Nikki feeling hallucinations or is Cynthia “Cindy” Heat is really alive? If so, why had she stayed hidden for so long? And why is she reappearing now?

However neither the murder nor reappearance of Cynthia Heat was what captured me. What made me take a second look at this book was in the bold way that Richard Castle brings up the religious conflicts and wars we are seeing all over the world and the role America is playing in it, especially with regards to Muslims vs the USA and world. The other aspect Castle brings in is the presidential elections which were actually happening in USA at that time. And to top it Castle doesn’t hesitate to portray Legs Kline based on Donald Trump and his daughter Lana Klein based on Ivanka Trump. Michael Gregory “Legs” Kline comes out as a stand-in from Donald Trump although the parties being represented by both of them are different. Of course since there is a Donald Trump stand-in we have to have a Hillary Clinton stand-in too – Lindsay Gardner. Although the presidential elections are not covered in detail, but a lot of it is imbedded subtly within the plot.

Despite the strong elements Castle uses in the plot, somewhere around chapter 15 or 16 I kind of guessed who was behind the murder of one journalist and putting a hit on Jameson Rook. Once I guessed it was easy to imagine the ending which was pretty close to what I imagined. That kind of popped the bubble on the mystery. But a small bubble still retained when it came to regarding the reappearance or not of Cynthia Heat. That will definitely keep me interested to read the next installment in this book – which according to the publishers perhaps might be the last book in the series.

Castle still doesn’t solve the dilemma that Nikki Heat is facing with her co-squad leaders Detective Raley and Ochoa. Will he make her decide one squad leader eventually or will they continue to be co-squad leaders with all their bickering and squabbles, not that they don’t add a humor element to the plot?

Castle has references to Season VIII of the TV show, albeit a bit modified – one of the witness in the case refers to a cop show on TV with a hot lady cop and her writer husband clearly alluding to the TV Show Castle; Detective Miguel Ochoa gets hit in his behind by a stray bullet which is a scene from one of the Castle episodes in which Detective Javier "Javi" Esposito gets into a similar situation (BTW, Miguel’s character is based on Javi’s character); In a roundabout way Jameson Rook brings up the book Wild Storm written by Richard Castle, which actually was released in 2014, but the mentioning of Castle by Rook forms kind of a vicious circle in this crazy Castle world again; Legs Kline private hangar belongs to LokSat Aviation which funnily relates to LokSat project that consumes Castle and Beckett in Season VIII of Castle TV Series.

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, even though you end up figuring out the ending midway like me.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. Richard Castle introduces Derrick Storm at the end of the book, giving a segue that his next book would be a Heat and Storm combo. Naturally there would be a next book considering the reappearance of Cynthia Heat has to be solved. However bringing in Derrick Storm – even though I distinctly remember that he was killed off by Castle when he was introduced in Season I of the TV Series – adds another layer of strength and power. It would be interesting to see how the two strong alpha characters fare in the next book.

b. Richard Castle portrays as having Nikki Heat met Derrick Storm as a suspect in a case she had caught a few years earlier, a brutal murder of a currency trader. I have to go back and read the earlier books again more particularly the first three books to see if any of this was mentioned in there and I missed catching it. But I don’t remember any currency trader murder since Frozen Heat though.

2) 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.

3) Richard Castle mentions a performance by Margaret Rook – Jameson Rook’s mother – as Blanche Dubois in a celebratory revival of the classic film A Streetcar Named Desire. This movie had been on my list to watch for so long. I guess it’s time to watch now.

4) Nikki mentions about Morton Williams Store in NYC and it reminded me of Morton Salt. Not sure if the store and salt have any connection but there are indeed at least 15 stores in NYC. More about the store here.

5) One of the suspect / witness – Muharib Qavi, imam of Manhattan's Masjid al-Jannah mosque – talks about a write-up that Jameson Rook had written about Hittites – an ancient nation of people who had vanished from Earth more than two thousand years ago. That part intrigued me and I looked up about them. Indeed they were an Ancient Anatolian people who established an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. There is so much more about them which you can read here. However, what made me think was that no matter how one is might today they will fall one-day if there is no unity, morality or humanity in them.  

6) Grammatical / Historical / Geographical / Character / Mythological / Plot Errors:

a. On Pg. 4, there is a repeat of “the way” in the line starting with “Still, Nikki Heat loved…”

b. On pg. 46, where Richard Castle retells the horrific story of how Cynthia Heat gets murdered and how Nikki heat hears it. However when it was originally told in Frozen Heat and Deadly Heat, it was mentioned that Nikki Heat calls her mom from the store if she needed anything else. However here in this book, Richard Castle mentions that Cynthia Heat calls Nikki heat. A clear error in the plot depiction.

c. On Pg. 175, there is an extra “been” between “had” and “already” in the line starting “went as a place her mother had…” which is not necessary. In the same line, it should read “went was a place…” instead of “went as a place…..”.

d. On Pg. 192, we read that Bart Callan had been transferred from the supermax facility in Colorado to a medium security prison in Cumberland in Maryland three weeks ago. But on pg. 219, it is mentioned that Bart Callan was transferred to Cumberland six months ago. A clear error in the plot.

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