Just as books have been the inspiration for film and television, there have been instances where movies or television series have spawned related book series. In my opinion, the toughest of these transitions to pull off are the novels from a television series. As a fan of ABC’s Castle from the first episodes, I was reluctant to pick up Heat Wave but now I’m glad that I did.
On the show, bestselling murder mystery novelist Richard “Rick” Castle crosses paths with New York Police Detective Kate Beckett and inspiration strikes. He tags along on the cases that cross her desk in the name of research and development for his new book, Heat Wave, throwing in his two cents worth and exchanging quips with the initially annoyed and begrudging detective.
I didn’t realize until I finally caved and read Heat Wave how much the characters and plot would mirror those of the show. The Beckett inspired Nikki Heat is forced to put up with journalist Jameson Rook while he tags along to research an article about New York’s finest. The case at hand involves a real-estate big-wig whose falling financial situation is eerily mirrored when he’s tossed from his sixth story balcony.
The names are different but in so many ways the characters are exactly the same as those of the television show that it can be distracting. Of course, if the reader isn’t familiar with the show and has no frame of reference, the premise is only as confusing as it usually is at the beginning of a novel when you’re still figuring out who’s who.
Despite a choppy beginning that jumps in ways that would make more sense visually edited together, Heat Wave finally develops a pace that works to reveal a complex set of circumstances that take time to carefully piece together. I was a little surprised at how short the novel was, mostly because so much story was crammed into only about two hundred pages. There’s something to be said for being concise, but Heat Wave could have taken its time a little more, built up to major events and revelations, worked to even out the chapters and have them flow better.
As a veteran of the Murder, She Wrote inspired novels, there’s something about Heat Wave that works better, that makes more sense. The Murder, She Wrote books follow the show’s main character of Jessica Fletcher as bodies drop around her (a phenomenon that has never really made sense). The books do not make reference to the events of the show and the show makes no reference to the books; the books are just another vehicle to capitalize on and continue the success of the show.
With Castle and Heat Wave however, the book is a part of the show. The show makes reference to the novel’s characters and even to specific scenes, and with the novel being adapted into a film within the show, the psychology behind the novel’s creation is playing a larger role on the show.
Heat Wave has a story and characters that allow it to stand without Castle’s support but it is at its best when supplementing the slightly campy ABC dramedy. The sequel, Naked Heat, was even released to coincide with the show’s season three premier episode.