I have always considered myself an eclectic reader, and yet I do manage to stay away from certain kinds of books. Bestsellers, Oprah reads, pulp fiction: none of these hold any temptation for me to pick up, in spite of my “eclectic reader” status. And yet, because I am a fan of the show Castle, I found myself being curious about ABC’s decision to go meta with the show and actually publish the book that the fictional mystery writer and one of the show’s main characters, Richard Castle, wrote.
Mostly, I wondered if it was any good. I didn’t expect it to be: how could something that was so meta, so obviously a commercial ploy, be any good? I picked it up with low expectations, and complete knowledge that I was just satiating the fan girl in me. (Besides, Nathan Fillion’s headshot is on the back cover. I couldn’t resist that for much longer.)
The good news? The book isn’t bad. It’s not great literature by any means, and probably not really great mystery writing. The plot’s pretty pedestrian: a billionaire developer, Matthew Starr, has been murdered. The question is who and why, of course. NYPD Detective Nikki Heat is the lead detective on the case, with her associates Detective Raley and Ochoa (who were given the most annoying nickname of “Roach”). Unfortunately, Jameson Rook, celebrity journalist, has latched himself on to the case, pulling favors with the mayor to do an article on the precinct which turned into an exposé on Nikki Heat. Over the week that he’s shadowing the detectives, Rook become invested in the case, and more specifically invested in Nikki Heat. The direction the clues lead the characters in the book follows the pattern of the show: we get introduced to a myriad of suspects early on, one of whom is the actual perpetrator. It’s a matter of figuring out who, and since I managed to figure it out about halfway through, it’s pretty predictable as far as mysteries go. (I say this because I’m lousy at following clues and putting things together.) It does help that the book is essentially a compilation of Castle’s first season: if you watch the show, you’ll pick up on events and side notes and in-jokes from that season.
In many ways, though, the crime and mystery are actually incidental to the real purpose of the book (and, quite possibly, the show): getting Nikki and Rook together. Which (because it’s wish fulfillment on Richard Castle’s part, but you’d only know that if you followed the show) they do. And they do so with the same wit and banter (though I missed Nathan Fillion’s smirk and smile, but that’s just me) that the show gives us. Which leads me to believe that the screenwriters wrote the book, all the way down to the acknowledgments.
In the end, it’s a lot of fun, providing a grand escape and a bit of fangirl fluff. Which is good news, especially for fans of the show.
Rated: Moderate, for many instances of mild swearing (though no f-bombs), violence, and a tasteful sex scene.