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Same Name, Different Tone
on November 26, 2011
The problem with having authors ghostwrite the 'Richard Castle' books is that, when a new author decides to take over the duties of writing, the tone and narrative shift can be quite jarring.
The narrative introduces many characters, giving them page space with little pay off. Be it cops on Nikki's team that are dropped after a few chapters of them being developed, never to be heard again (such as the cop nicknamed Opie and Det. Heisenberg) to characters mentioned in passing that get pages of backstory but never appear in the actual story (such as the man Rook interviewed during his investigation...we didn't need pages and pages about some British Arms dealer that will never affect the story). The sad thing is that by wasting time with these characters, the true players get almost no screen time. The main 'villains' of the story, infact, receive the least amount of pages and you are left feeling they are one dimensional.
Then there is the issue with dialogue. Castle, the show, is known for its fast banter. This book, many times, slows that down by having Nikki give several paragraphs of internal thought to a comment before making her retort. Just like above, this comes off as unneeded...one gets the sense that the author is padding the story, just to try and making the page minimum.
The structure of the story itself differs greatly from the first two books, as well. The first two were fast tales that focuses on romance and mystery, whipping through the moments at a breakneck pace while filling the pages with sly references to events from the previous season of the show.
In Heat Rises, such easter eggs are non-existent, and the author has decided to focus more on the inner politics of the police force than on the mystery itself. When one reads about a dead priest tortured in a sex dungeon, we want more of that...not chapter upon chapter of Nikki dealing with the inner workings of the police. Remember how everyone loved 'The Phantom Menace' because it was about bureaucracy? Yeah, me neither. The inner workings plot drags the piece down, bogging the narrative to the point that when it does get back to the mystery you are disgusted to find nothing has changed. Infact, it takes almost the entire book to finally get the mystery moving, and when it does occur it is such a rush job that it comes off as sad. The great betrayals and revelations are muted by the fact that we simply don't KNOW these villains, because the author spent the last 3 chapters having Nikki chit chat with random characters.
There is an old joke when it comes to the classic 'Moby Dick': Read the first 3 chapters, then skip the next 10. Heat Rises is Richard Castle's Moby Dick...a great step up followed by a good half of the book prattling on about information that we don't need, just so the author can show all their research. You could literally skim a 1/3rd of the book and not miss much.
Now, this review is coming off as very negative. But I still enjoyed the book...alot. The problem is, when compared to the first two books (both clearly written by a different author), this one becomes a sad tale that will, most likely, be looked on as the weakest of the three and the one most often skipped by writers when they decide to reexamine the series. Hyperion should consider finding another author, one able to mimic the style of the first two books, as Heat Rises is not the Richard Castle story we've all come to know and love.