Book: Frozen Heat

"Frozen Heat"

NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat gets more mystery than she imagined when she arrives at her latest crime scene. The body of an unidentified woman has been found stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left sitting in a freezer truck. A startling enough death, but an even bigger shock comes when this new homicide surprisingly connects to the unsolved murder of Detective Heat’s own mother. Killed gruesomly, the Jane Doe on ice launches Heat on a dangerous and emotional investigation, rekindling the cold case that has haunted her since she was nineteen. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she also digs into unexplored areas of her mother’s background–areas Nikkie has been afraid to confront before, but now must.

Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Heat’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikkie to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that ther mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for more than ten years?

The title of this novel is very apt. It’s frozen, and it takes time (and some chapters) before it completely thaws. Once it does though, it definitely takes you for a ride. But first, a detour.

I haven’t been a very good fan of Castle, the television series, for a couple of years now. Work has me tangled up in a lot of things, and my viewing habits suffered a little. Not that I’m complaining about the work. I love what I do. It does create an interesting predicament for me with regards to Frozen Heat though.

See, most of my complaints about the Nikki Heat novels is that they read too much like an episode of Castle. In some cases, events in the show also appear in the novels. And with a cast of characters that are very similar in both medium, it’s really hard to distinguish one from the other. And I have been wondering what the point is in providing new content when it’s a retread of what was already shown.

Of course, because I haven’t been watching Castle regularly for two seasons now, I have no idea if that’s the case for Frozen Heat. I do know for sure though that the new person in-charge of the precinct in the show is nothing like the one in the novel, but that’s just one difference. That’s pretty much the only thing I can say to compare the two nowadays.

On Frozen Heat alone though, I have more.

Now, as I already mentioned, the novel starts our at glacier pace. Well, no. Not really. But because it starts much like most mystery novels do, it feels glacier-like for me. There’s nothing new. And, once again, it reads too much like a novelization of a Castle episode–even if it’s one I haven’t seen.

That is, until they take the show on the road–and, in one case, overseas. That’s when things become interesting.

In Frozen Heat, we delve deeper into the mystery of Nikki Heat’s mother. Parts of the mystery mirror events that happen in the show, but I think this is finally where the novel separates itself from its source material. And I’m loving it.

As we unravel the death of Cynthia Heat, we also get a new look at who Nikki is as a person. And while past Nikki Heat novels has her pretty much being a printed copy of Kate Beckett, the one we get to know in Frozen Heat is someone new, someone different. And as the case blows open, we are introduced to a new arc that I hope will carry on (and get solved) in the next novel.

Another thing I loved about the latest book is the development of new characters introduced in Heat Rises. These character don’t exist in the show, for budgetary reasons I’m presuming, which is great for the novel because it adds to the series’s identity.

I must say, this is the first time I’m actually looking forward to the next Nikki Heat novel. Let’s check out if I’m the only one who is:
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Book: Heat Rises

Heat RisesThe bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat’s most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York’s most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads to a dark conspiracy reaching all the way to the highest levels of the NYPD.

But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove: Heat Rises.

My last post took almost a month to complete, mostly because of the time I needed to finish “editing” the accompanying video. I have no such excuses for this post, since I finished reading this early in January. And I can’t even say the book is hard to write about, since off the three Castle stories, this is the one that I really enjoyed reading. So let’s just chalk it up to laziness. And lack of time–but mostly laziness.

Now, before I start writing about the book, I just want to bring something up (maybe, again. I’m not sure if I already brought this up previously.) The synopsis for books are usually written to help sell the book, correct? And while, I remember writing about this part before, some amazing books are bogged down with really horrible synopsis, what’s the deal with synopsis that reveal a huge chunk of twists from the story? Let’s take this book for example. We start with a single case. A problem arises at the precinct, with regards to their captain. These two, so far, aren’t joined together by anything–and yet, we already know that they will be. Sure, readers who like to read between the lines would quickly spot the lead-in to the bigger picture. But because the synopsis has already spoiled the part where there’s a conspiracy that “reaches all the way to the highest levels of the NYPD“, the story suddenly stales. And it’s not until we get to the point when the connection the NYPD is pronounced that we start looking forward to what happens next again.

Readers are not like viewers, in my opinion. As a viewer, I like knowing secrets ahead of time–because this is a set-up, and a preparation, for the emotional journey that I will be undertaking with the protagonist. As a reader, I like my secrets forshadowed–not laid out in the open. Especially in mystery novels where you’re also testing your mind capacity in solving the crime before your protagonists do. Plot twists revealed in the synopsis only manages to bring down a reader’s enjoyment.

Now, moving on to the story itself, I have to say that whoever’s written this particular novel has a better handle on the characters. For one thing, they’re no longer a copy of the characters from the television show the novels are tied-in on. While they are still influenced by the actions of the characters in the show, they are no longer mirror images. Which I think is good because it doesn’t paint the titular television character in a good light that his characters are mainly mimicking the people in his life. The thing with tie-in content is that it needs to protect the show as well; they have to co-exist and help further develop the characters in their created world. I shudder now, remembering the horrible tie-ins to Charmed and Smallville.

As for the case presented in the story–it’s novel. It’s not reaching to connect the many inconsistencies presented in the case, and yet it manages to tie-up everything perfectly near the end. I also like how some characters were presented to be clear-cut villains, but end up being just… well, slimy and not completely evil. The pacing of the story is fast enough to keep you going, but not too fast that it loses you.

I’ve already mentioned it before, but I’ll write it here one more time: Heat Rises is the best off the Richard Castle novels.

Book: Glee, the Official Annual 2011

"Glee: The Official Annual 2011"What is there to say about Glee that hasn’t been said before? Glee was a phenomenon. I’m sure some people believe it still is, but personally, I think it’s nearing its expiration date. But, I must admit, I still enjoy watching it–even if it’s mostly because of the performances and not the actual story. Season 3 looks like it could go back to the way things were in Season 1–the early part of Season 1. But has the changes come a little bit too late?

Of course, what I’m really here to talk about isn’t the current status of Glee. I’m writing about the official annual (pictured left) that came out sometime early this year. I didn’t buy it right off the bat, because I didn’t really think there’s anything more I want to know about the cast. Especially after the lackluster Season 2. But when National Bookstore had a sale, and I saw that it wasn’t that expensive, I figured: what the hell? Might as well get it.

It’s the type of thing only a collector would like. There’s really nothing new to be gleaned from the official annual–if it is even official. Season 1 ended in May of 2010, and yet the annual came out in 2011. So that there is fishy right from the get-go. Though, it does say inside that it’s a product of the United Kingdom. So that might have something to do with it.

Regardless of its authenticity though, the annual is basically an episode guide for the first season, with character profiles for that season’s main players, and a few extras I would rather forget. There’s the how-to for prom, there’s the test to see which Glee guy is your type, and which Glee girl would you be bestfriends with. Clearly, I was not the intended audience when the publishers decided to make this publication. Of course, no one actually forced me to buy this, so I shouldn’t complain.

The only new thing you’ll find here are the prom pictures that have been spotted online before, but were never really released. I don’t know what Fox was planning with those photos–but it’ll be too late to release them now.

If I could go back in time to stop myself from buying this, I would. Even though it wasn’t expensive–it really did nothing to affect me in the least. Well, aside from take some cash out of my wallet. Which, I’m sure, someone would say is exactly what Glee is doing anyway, with all the merchandise, and the songs, etc.