Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Naked Heat (2010)

     I like Nathan Fillion.  I liked him as Johnny Donnelly on Two Guys and a Girl (1998-2001); Fillion came on the show after the name change.  I liked him as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the enjoyable, but deeply flawed series Firefly (2002).  But I think the role he was born to play was that of Richard Castle on ABC's Castle (2009-present), as it allows him to indulge his evident inner-geek and make the regular murders that provide the plots for individual episodes to seem interesting, or more so beyond the script.
     So, Fillion draws me to Castle – and while I'm watching it I often wonder if I would enjoy a show with with John Huertas and Seamus Deaver as scrappy detectives who never get the glory for all the work they do – and it is in the vein of fandom that I have read the first two novels written by the Richard Castle persona.  I don't know if I can really defend this.  I have a long list of books that I should read.  I have an equally long list of titles I want to read.  And I have made a real effort to make the 2011-12 reading project one that has a lot more non-fiction titles of merit.  Ignore that comic book/graphic novel week of titles that are now part of said project.
     Naked Heat (2010) follows the events of Heat Wave (2009) by a few months.  Jameson Rook (the stand-in for Richard Castle), made somewhat unpopular amongst the police he shadowed for his magazine article finds a new way to become part of the investigating team: he stumbles upon the murder of a high profile gossip columnist.  It takes some time for him to win the warm regard of the detectives, but he does.  And then he has sex with Nikki Heat (the stand-in for Kate Beckett) again. 
     The novel stresses one of the weaknesses of the television show.  In order to keep some kind of mystery going, the detectives (and writer) often have to go back to people who were originally suspects.  I mean often as in regularly and repeatedly.  In the book, it happens over and over and over again.  The story is more involved than a single episode could be, but it is also horribly contrived – such as the garbage strike.  Adding to the problem, most of the elements of Naked Heat have appeared in episodes in Seasons Two and Three.  The ending is a little weak, especially for all of the disparate elements that are brought into the tale.  The pacing also raises some concerns, but it isn't so jarring as to cause any problems.
     Whoever writes the Richard Castle novels isn't particularly concerned with creating a setting, instead simply giving the show's characters different names.  There is next to nothing in regards to physical descriptions, and just as little attention paid to clothing.  Neither Heat nor Rook are developed as characters, and if one were no familiar with the show it is unlikely that either would feel like people worth headlining a story.  However, the Richard Castle novels are a tie-in to the show.  As such, they allow for stories that are similar to the show without having to constrain themselves to the established continuity.  Maybe the selling point is that Heat and Rook get together, something denied to Beckett and Castle.
     As a diversion that is tied-in to something I already invest some time to, Naked Heat is decent.  It is better written and structured than Heat Wave.  Like most of the fluff I have read for the projects, Naked Heat was a two day read.  What I would recommend – strongly recommend – is to not watch an episode of Castle in between reading the book.  It can cause a few moments of what...wait that are the result of an easy confusion between the two.

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