Castle Book Review: Frozen Heat

“Real life is never like TV.”

Like all of the Nikki Heat novels, Frozen Heat is a novel that works on two levels. It is first and foremost a mystery story. Even if the reader had never seen a single episode of Castle, it's still a fun read that manages enough twists to keep the true killer hidden for quite some time. In fact, I am pretty good at spotting who done it (I’ve read far too many mysteries in my time!), but this time I was stunned when the killer was revealed. I went back and the clues were there; I had missed them.

Two months have passed since Jameson Rook was shot. I find it fascinating that Castle would, in the fictional version of his world, have Rook (himself) and not Heat (Beckett) be the one who is injured. I guess that’s the nice thing about fiction -- you can change reality any way you wish.

Miraculously alive, Rook is going through the healing process, which includes sex with Nikki before we hit page ten. Nikki leaves his bed because she has been called to a murder scene. What raises the level of this novel higher than the first three is that this murder ties into Nikki's mother Cynthia’s murder; in fact, the victim was Cynthia’s best friend, a woman Nikki never knew existed.

Much like Beckett, Nikki becomes obsessed with solving this murder and, therefore, solving her mother’s. Much like Castle, Rook is there to keep her from going over the edge; to help her work out the clues; and, to make her smile when she needs it most.

Simultaneously running through this novel is the ongoing theme of Nikki and the walls she throws up to protect herself and to keep other people at arm’s length. Nikki is aware that she does this and, as she begins to know her mother better through the course of this investigation, she realizes that it is an inherited trait. Rook is there to keep chiseling away at those walls and to keep encouraging her to open up to him. Sound familiar?

The real joy in reading these books is spotting the similarities between the book and the show. And there are quite a few; I counted no fewer than seventeen direct references to shows, mostly in the third and fourth seasons. It doesn’t take long before we hit the first one -- the dedication is taken directly from the fourth season finale. But, my favorite line in the entire book was a Firefly reference, “Rook smiled. ‘I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something I like about Malcolm and Reynolds.’”

All of our favorite characters from the previous books turn up but, of course, this is the first book in which Captain Gates appears. Named Captain Wallace Irons (get it?), he is inept, media hungry and not at all respected by the others in the precinct. It makes Gates liking the book in "Secret’s Safe With Me" that much funnier. There is also a character that does not appear in the show. She is a detective in Nikki’s squad who is very bad at her job, but has survived because she is sleeping with Irons. I liked the added tension she brought to the precinct. It might be fun to have someone like that turn up for a while.

The main quibble I have with this book is the ending. It is abrupt. A cliffhanger is one thing, but this novel just stops. It is disconcerting and a bit annoying in a story that was otherwise really good.

I was interested in the cover that said it was a #1 New York Times bestseller. According to the list I saw, it was #35. Still impressive. On a side note, I was glad to see the three Fifty Shades books finally start the downward slide.

Overall, this is my favorite of the series so far. Three and a half out of four RTWOTC’s to Boston and Paris.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

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