Mystery thrillers written by a TV show character
Oh. This is going to get confusing. Because when it comes to Richard Castle and his books, the lines between reality and fiction get extremely convoluted.
Richard Castle is a character on the TV show Castle. He's a world-famous author of action thrillers along the lines of James Bond and looking for a new direction for his work. Enter NYPD detective Kate Beckett, who becomes his inspiration for a new female detective character.
That's part of the fiction.
The reality comes in with the real publication of Castle's books based on Beckett - the Nikki Heat series. These are actual mystery books you can actually buy and read, although the author is listed as the fictional Richard Castle. The books are part of the plots in Castle at times, taking the real books into the fictional world.
So in the TV world, the books are real. In our world, at least the Nikki Heat books are real. And they're starting to make real Derrick Storm books.
No matter what is real and what isn't, the Richard Castle books you can actually buy and read are pretty fun, especially if you're a fan of the show. The humor and interaction of the characters feels much more real when you've been listening to it every Monday night for a while.
(Photo Credits: All images on this page are either book covers or promotional stills and photos from ABC.)
Character based on NYPD detective Kate Beckett
Nikki Heat - hard-boiled NYPD detective on the outside, soft sexy woman on the inside. And the main character in newest series from Richard Castle.
Heat is based on "real" NYPD detective Kate Beckett, whom Castle rides along with to get stories and inspiration. Not because Beckett wanted him there, but Castle is friends with the mayor and pulled a few strings. Castle uses Beckett as his muse, although the stories told in the books are a wee bit spicier than real life has turned out to be.
This series is a direct tie-in with the Castle TV show, right down to the dust jacket picture and bio of Richard Castle from the show. And if you watch the show, you can see the resemblance of each of the book's characters to the show's characters, not to mention Castle's frequent ripping off of the cases they work. In fact, characters:
- Nikki Heat - NYPD detective based on Kate Beckett
- Jameson Rook - Magazine journalist based on Richard Castle (Get it? Castle/Rook? And his publishing company is Black Pawn.)
- Ochoa - NYPD detective based on Esposito
- Raley - NYPD detective based on Ryan
- Lauren Perry - NY medical examiner based on Lanie Parish
The book covers crack me up. Very juvenile James Bond movie opening credits style really. Kind of detracts from the Nikki Heat character that deserves to be taken a little more seriously.
To date, there are four Nikki Heat books, with a fifth one on the way.
Nikki Heat novels
- Story: What sends a seemingly successful real estate mogul over the edge of his balcony and down six floors to his death? Nikki Heat is sorting through the spouse, mistresses, co-workers and even the mob in an effort to solve this one. The blackouts caused by the heat wave aren't exactly helping. And neither is Jameson Rook, who is doing a ride-along for a magazine article on NYPD detectives. Throw in complications of an art theft, empty bank accounts and an attack on Heat and the action just keeps coming.
- Reviews: Interestingly mixed. It seems people who love the show and aren't too critical think the book is fabulous. But even some Castle lovers pointed out the obvious character flaws in this one. It's meant as a tie-in with the show (kind of, sort of?) so you feel like you already know the characters if you watch, making it easy to miss the fact that there really isn't a lot of complexity to these people. Outside of Nikki maybe. The rest are sort of cardboard cutouts in the background. The story's great, though.
- Story: It's a scandalous murder when a gossip columnist turns up dead. Oh, and with Rook standing right there when Heat and her team arrive on the scene. The hunt for the murderer among the powerful and famous is complicated by the electric relationship between Heat and Rook that can't seem to find a comfortable place. And given Rook's personal involvement with this case, Heat can't seem to get away from him to figure out just how she feels.
- Reviews: General consensus is that it's better than the first one, reading more like an expanded episode of the TV show. Only Nikki Heat is becoming even more obviously a fantasized version of Beckett. Again, it seems that watching the show makes the book characters actually come to life far more than the writing does.
- Story: When a priest dies at a bondage club, you know this isn't going to be any ordinary case. The search for the killer throws her up against a drug lord and a CIA contractor, but for Nikki Heat, the real threat is the death squad apparently out to get her. It seems the case she's working is just the shadow of a conspiracy that reaches to the top of the NYPD and getting close to an answer just finds her out on the street without a badge. Leaving her just one friend to turn to for help: Jameson Rook.
- Reviews: It's likely all the people who didn't like the first one never made it to the third, which might explain why there aren't any really negative reviews on Amazon about this one. Or maybe it really is just that much better as everyone says. Apparently, the sex scenes in this one are truly hot and the story much more obviously taken from the overarching story line in season three.
- Story: Body stabbed and stuffed in a suitcase? Seems like just another weird murder until the dots start connecting with the unsolved murder of Nikki Heat's mother. (Get it? Frozen Heat? Cold case?) Heat and Rook are on the case, which takes them far, far, far outside Heat's jurisdiction and to the streets of Paris.
- Reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, although -- semi-spoiler! -- the fact that the story ends right in the middle of a train of thought drove a few people nuts.
It's a real book, although all the video footage in this is from the first season of Castle. Kind of funny if you've seen the show because the book, totally based on the show characters.
The books that made Castle rich and famous
Castle's writing career started off promising, at least from a literary standpoint. But what moved him into rock-star status (and salary) was Derrick Storm. Storm is a private eye turned CIA agent and was starting to bore Castle, so Castle killed him off in Storm Fall, the final Derrick Storm novel. Or was it?
In my head, I see Storm falling into the same class of books as James Bond or Dirk Pitt. He probably has all of Bond's toys, but more of Pitt's sense of humor and resourcefulness. (Disclaimer: I way prefer Pitt to Bond. At least in book form.)
Derrick Storm novels
- Deadly Storm
- Storm Season
- A Calm Before The Storm
- Storm's Break (referenced in the pilot episode)
- Storm Warning
- Unholy Storm
- Gathering Storm (referenced in the pilot episode)
- Storm Rising
- Driving Storm
- Storm's Last Stand
- Storm Fall (Final Derrick Storm Novel)
- Storm Approaching (The chronology of this novel is unknown.)
- Graphic novel version of the first Derrick Storm book in which he moves from the world of private eye to becoming a globe-trotting CIA agent.
- They pulled in people from Marvel to work with Castle creator Andrew Marlowe to develop this one, so the standard is pretty high for it as a graphic novel. Mostly a response to Castle fans wanting to see something of the Derrick Storm series that gets talked about so much.
- Reviews of it are a little all over the board. You have the Castle fans who like everything, the ones who are critical of the story, the ones who are critical of the artwork. Actually, most of the complaints center around the story, not the artwork. And it seems the interior artwork is by different artists than the cover. Interesting.
- Graphic novel sequel to Deadly Storm. Based on the novel sequel to Deadly Storm. (Not to get confusing.)
- Storm has been hired to bug the hotel room of an African head of state, but a woman's scream heard over the wire throws the simple mission into chaos. His investigation uncovers a deep conspiracy that might uncover the truth about CIA agent Clara Strike's death.
- Reunites the same authors as the first graphic novel, although we have a new artist for the artwork.
New books and stories
Huh. Seems Derrick Storm didn't really die in Storm Fall. (Oh, spoiler alert!) I guess no money-making character ever really does. Turns out he faked his own death just to get out of the CIA. But the kidnapping of a senator's son sucks him back in, this time working with alongside an FBI agent.
Whoops! Storm has a dead senator on his hands, not to mention a whole mess of trouble with America's classic bad guys - the Russians. Well, old Communist Party Russians who hid some gold. And new Russian government guys leaking info about Storm's mission. And of course, that sexy FBI agent again.
Last part of this trilogy that brings Storm back to life. Seems there's a whole club of CIA guys who faked their deaths and now do covert black semi-illegal ops for the agency. We're still looking for that Russian gold, but not everything about this mission is what it seems.
The whole thing with Castle's books is that they attract more attention for the TV shows. Oh, and it probably doesn't hurt to have the extra income stream. Apparently, this has been done before. We're up to 40 books by Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote fame.
Does it turn you off or make you intrigued to see a book tie-in like this? Or does it only matter if you actually know about it?
Given he's not a real person, the show's writers have certainly given Castle a stellar background. In addition to the Nikki Heat and Derek Storm series, Castle has quite a list to his name. Looking over the titles, you can see why his publisher (and ex-wife) calls him the Master of the Macabre.
Three of the books are the basis of the murders in the pilot episode and account for why Castle is drawn into Beckett's world in the first place. The complete list comes from the books section of the "author's" website.
- In a Hail of Bullets (winner of the Nom DePlume Society's Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature); referenced in his jacket bio on Heat Wave.
- Death of a Prom Queen (referenced in the pilot episode of Castle)
- Flowers For Your Grave (referenced in the pilot episode of Castle)
- Hell Hath No Fury (referenced in the pilot episode of Castle)
- A Skull at Springtime (seen on shelf in the pilot episode of Castle)
- At Dusk We Die
- When It Comes to Slaughter
- A Rose for Everafter (seen on shelf in the pilot episode of Castle)
- Dead Man's Chest
- Bullets and Bracelets
- Kissed and Killed
- One Bullet, One Heart
The question on everyone's mind
According to the dust jacket on the Nikki Heat books:
Richard Castle is the author of numerous bestsellers, including the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm series. His first novel, In a Hail of Bullets, published while he was still in college, received the Nom DePlume Society's prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature. Castle currently lives in Manhattan with his daughter and mother, both of whom infuse his life with humor and inspiration.
However, one look at the picture of Nathan Fillion right above that and you realize that isn't exactly correct. After all, Castle is a fictional character portrayed by Fillion, not a real and true person. Which has raised many times the question of just who is actually penning the words on the page?
Several theories have arisen, including that it's one of Castle's poker buddies moonlighting under a pen name. Unlikely in the extreme, although the only solid clue we've been given is that the author has appeared on Castle.
The one theory that has gained steam and seems the most likely is that it's Tom Straw. As in the "prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature" mentioned in the bio. Nice way to give the ghostwriter some credit, and Straw is a real person, actual writer and connected as a former TV writer. And Fillion has said Straw has appeared on Castle, although it's not credited in his IMDB listing. (His work with Parker Lewis and Cosby Show is, but nothing about Castle.)
This is one mystery that might not be cleared up until well after the series is over.