Is it weird that one of my favorite writers is fictional? Is it any less weird if we can actually read his work?
Alrighty, I think that's more than enough exposition. On with the review!
According to Castle lore, Heat Wave was a smash hit, leading to an offer from Castle's publisher for three more books. It even got a movie adaptation starring Natalie Rhodes (Laura Prepon) as Heat, and there was an episode where Rhodes - a hardcore Method actor - shadowed Beckett so as to best be able to portray her on-screen. Unfortunately, Heat Wave went straight to DVD on account of Rhodes's substance abuse issues.
This is, by far, my favorite book in the series, and I've re-read it more times than the other entries. I think it's the best written, the best plotted and put-together, and it did the best job of keeping me riveted to the page wondering what would come next. The mystery has lots of moving parts to it, and I'm impressed with how well everything tied together in the end. All the books in the series have been able to pull this off, don't get me wrong, but Heat Rises stands out in this regard.
I'm not entirely sure how well the two plots of the conspiracy and the serial killer intersect - especially since the two perps manage to get in each other's way, making one of them come off as substantially less of a threat. This probably would have worked better as two separate stories. Still, it's well-written, and it does a good job of wrapping up this particular arc of Nikki Heat's story, even if I was hoping for something a bit more epic. It left me wondering where the series would go from here, especially once I learned that it would indeed go on.
This is an interesting variation compared to the other books in the series so far, as we pretty much know who the guilty party is from very early on in the book, and certain key plot points make it all the more inevitable. The mysteries here are how Heat can prove it, why the victim was murdered in the first place, and what the culprit's overall scheme is - and Rising Heat keeps you guessing all the way to the end on that, with a satisfying payoff in the end. And speaking of endings, Rising Heat's has quite a status-quo game-changer that ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Also, it was an interesting choice using Hurricane Sandy, a real storm that did a great deal of damage and cost many lives, as opposed to a fictional storm.
While there was a lot about this book that I enjoyed, especially the beautifully written ending, I don't think the mystery was as well-assembled as it was in the previous books. The payoff was especially disappointing, even after a second read-through. It's not by any means bad, but I was expecting more.