I am blaming @essers entirely for this one and the amount of brackets I use…
Last year, Essers wrote a review for Shiny Shelf about season one of Castle, starring Nathan Fillion.
Yes, that one.
So I watched Castle and enjoyed it. It’s not a serious, tough crime show. It’s pretty silly and built on the premise that millionaire crime writer Richard Castle (Fillion) is shadowing NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) for a new crime novel he’s planning.
Heat is a no-nonsense NYPD detective working a murder case, shadowed by Jamerson Rook, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist.
Yes, they really did write a tie-in novel that is ‘written’ by the character in the show. Season 2 even has a two-parter built around that fact Heat Wave triggers a serial killer trying to get Beckett’s attention as “the real life Nikki Heat”. When one detective starts recounting the plot of the novel, Castle stops them finishing it with the word “spoilers”. Which, as I was about five chapters from the end of the tie-in novel, I’d been shouting at the screen.
This is where reviewing it gets complicated.
If I review it an actual crime novel, I’d say it was not great. The central murder mystery is good, but the writing is pure pulp. It’s workmanlike, the kind of thing that I’ve been tempted to throw out of a train’s window before now. (Did I ever actually review The Da Vinci Code here? It’s enough to know it nearly ended up on a railway embankment near Reading, right?)
But is that part of the meta-fictional games going on here? Is it meant to be a bad airport style novel because that’s what Rick Castle, character in Castle, would write? Is it spoofing millionaire crime writers? Especially given it has endorsements by the likes of James Patterson on it? (He’s in the show too, as a poker buddy of Castle’s.)
In season two of the TV series, much is made of the sex between Heat and Rook because all the characters take it to indicate something is really happening between Beckett and Castle. They’ve got that whole Moonlighting thing going on…
This is where this book becomes fan service. Not that it’s a bad thing in this case. Shows built on Unresolved Sexual Tension (UST) struggle with the resolution of it. Look at season 4 of Moonlighting. But fans also want some action: there’ll be Castle fanfic (look it up yourself). This tie-in novel gives you a fictional character (Castle) writing a fictionalised version of himself (Rook) having sex with the fictionalised version (Heat) of the fictional character (Beckett). Do I need a diagram? It gives fans the satisfaction of resolving the UST without actually doing it and destroying a selling point of the show.
In short, as a fan of the tv series you will read this book as two layers. When you read about Heat and Rook, you’ll see Beckett and Castle. And it’s impossible to judge the book as anything other than a meta-fictional device. It exists – and all the cross-platform stuff like the author’s page etc exist – to keep fans engaged and amused.
Absolute kudos to Hyperion and Rick Castle’s “beta readers” (who I suspect are the real writers) for creating this.
(Oh, and Firefly fans? There’s a scene at the start of Castle season 2 episode 6 that made me spit out my beer with laughter.)