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Naked Heat is the second Nikki Heat novel. Much of what I said about Heat Wave can also be said about Naked Heat. It is still like watching an alternate reality Castle in your head. Because of this, the story still very much tied to the Castle TV show. Some of the research we see Castle do in the show, mainly the tied-to-the-chair experiment, makes an appearance in the book. This leads to several 'Aha!'-moments, where you'll recognise stuff from the second season of Castle in the book. At the same time, funnily enough, I noticed stuff in the book I'd missed in the series. Such as Lanie and Esposito, Lauren and Ochoa in the books, hooking up! So reading the books and watching the show can act in a complementary manner.

The writing is much improved from Heat Wave; where in the last book the prose was workman-like, it's much better here, though still not soaring, and the story flows much better. Partly, this is due to the fact that in Naked Heat we're not limited to Nikki's point of view. We witness scenes from Rook's point of view and go on ride-alongs with Raley and Ochoa when they go interview a relative of one of the victims in Spanish Harlem. I liked these switches a lot and, especially in the case of Roach, it means that there are less infodumpy updates where they have to inform Nikki - and the reader - of their progress on the case. Now the reader looks over their shoulder and they presumably update Nikki off-stage. This makes for a lot less stopping to explain the clues and where we're going next. Of course, this being the second book in the series, there's no need to introduces any of the main cast and that also helps with the flow of the book, we can get right to the action.

Naked Heat's plot was also much to my liking. With the murdered woman being as much a villain as a victim and, due to her profession, the necessary delving into sordid 'celeb' secrets and the world of gossip that Cassidy Towne inhabited, it added a little scandal to this otherwise straight police procedural. The public's fascination with gossip and the latest '15 minutes of fame'-celebrity is also echoed in the way Nikki and Rook have to deal with the aftermath of his article. Nikki's is recognised everywhere--when she rolls up to the book's first crime scene, the witness who discovered the body is more interested in having his picture taken with her than in giving a testimony. In addition, due to Rook's focus on Nikki in his article, the rest of the squad is somewhat ticked off at him as well, rightly feeling as if they didn't the credit they deserve. Raley, especially, is angry since Rook revived his old nickname of Sweet Tea, much to Raley's disgust. Rook spends a large part of the novel figuring out what went wrong, between him and Nikki and him and the squad. It's interesting to see Rook realising his mistakes and trying to make up for them.

In all, Naked Heat is another fun read, which might even be attractive to the more hardcore crime reader. I'm even tempted to pick up Heat Rises when it comes out, just to see how this series progresses and whether the upward momentum will hold. If you're headed off to the beach, this is a good book to bring along!
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VINE VOICEon 23 June 2011
'Naked Heat' is just as entertaining as 'Heat Wave' but a bit longer. The beginning of the novel echoes the start of series 3 of 'Castle', Heat and Rook have been out of touch for months and when they do meet up again it is at a crime scene. Rook is writing a profile of Cassidy Towne, a hated gossip columnist and finds her dead at her home, he calls in the murder and who should show up but Nicky Heat. Any fan of the show has got to read these books but they also work as stand alone humorous crime novels. The added bonus with 'Naked Heat' is that there is a photo of Richard (Nathan Fillion)Castle on the inside back cover and the book includes an excerpt from the next novel 'Heat Rises'. As there is going to be a 4th series of this great show I think it is safe to assume that another novel is currently being written - and I still don't want to know who the 'author' is'.
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When it comes to media tie ins, the Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle stands out. Why? Because Richard Castle is the main character played by Nathan Fillion on the TV show Castle. The premise of the series finds Castle following around NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett because he is basing his new character, Nikki Heat, on her. In a great piece of marketing, as the books are released on the TV show, they are also released in real life. Since I'm a fan of the TV show, I had to give these books a try. Naked Heat is the second one, and I liked it better than the first.

Naked Heat opens up a few months after the first book. Detective Nikki Heat arrives on the scene of a new homicide. Gossip columnist Cassidy Towne is found dead in her apartment. In a fit of poetic irony, she has been stabbed in the back. And who should be on the scene but journalist Jameson Rook. Nikki hasn't seen Rook since she broke up with him when she saw the article he was writing about her. It was too favorable, and she isn't enjoying her newfound celebrity status.

Cassidy was the subject of Rook's newest magazine article, and he'd been shadowing her for the last few weeks before she was killed. Heat reluctantly concludes that Rook might have some insight into this case, so she agrees to let him tag along again as she works to find the killer. Since Cassidy shared the dirt about anyone famous in New York, the list of suspects includes baseball stars, musicians, and disgraced politicians. Can Heat find the killer before another person is killed?

I enjoyed the first book in the series, although I felt at times it was overwritten. I was glad it had been just under 200 pages. So when I saw this one was almost 300 pages, I was afraid I was in for a long read. I'm glad to say the writing had greatly improved. The 300 pages flew by much quicker, and I was able to get lost in the story. There are still some writing issues, like point of view shifts and telling instead of showing, but it was much better this time around.

The real fun comes for the fans of the TV show. Rook is quite obviously a stand in for Castle himself. All the major players in the show, except for Castle's daughter, show up here at some point. I know these are fictitious characters (different from the real characters on the TV show), but I can't help but picture the actors as I am reading the story. And some of the lines are pretty funny if you know the TV show. Plus you get Castle's take on his friends on the show. It makes for some interesting reading.

Of course, the book wouldn't work at all if it weren't a good novel. And it is a very good novel. The mystery starts strong and continues well. Even the twists I saw coming managed to surprise me at least to some degree. The clues and twists were fairly steady, and the climax was thrilling if a tad over the top. Okay, who am I kidding; parts of it were very over the top. But this is supposed to be an over the top best seller, and it certainly works as that.

Obviously, I can't tell you have the characters in this book work for a non-TV show fan. But I can tell you they work well for me. There are some insights into the characters this time around, and I felt like they were a bit more fleshed out. Then again, I constantly confuse them with their TV counterparts, so others might feel differently. The new characters brought in for this novel were colorful and memorable on their own, so my guess would be that anyone would like the characters here.

The TV show is fairly tame in the sex and violence department, at least most of the time. This book does have a bit more of both, so just be aware of that when you go to pick it up.

As to the book's title? Unlike the first book, Nikki doesn't get naked in this one. Naked Heat could refer to how she feels with the magazine article having been published in the current month. Or it could just be a way to get some funny reactions out of TV character Kate Beckett, like the one we got when she found out what the title was going to be. That's my best guess.

If you like Castle the TV show, you really should give the books by Richard Castle a chance. Naked Heat will entertain you between new episodes of the show.
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on 12 September 2012
Beyond meta, this one: 'Castle' is, of course, a TV show about a crime fiction writer, Richard Castle, played by the lovely Nathan Fillion, who, for various flimsy and unconvincing reasons, is permitted to ride alone with New York detective Kate Beckett in order to research his writing. Beckett inspires a character, also a New York detective, named Nikki Heat; and this is, purportedly, one of the books inspired by the collaboration.

My head, just for one, is hurting rather badly about now.

Anyway, all that notwithstanding, this is a perfectly decent police procedural mystery, with a good plot and enough twists to keep the reader entertained. It's a step or two up from an episode of `Castle' - necessarily having to be a little more complex just for reasons of length, if nothing else. It's even fairly well-written, although the author (we will assume not Castle, and not Nathan Fillion either) has a bit of a problem with descriptives, and Nikki Heat is `Heat', `Nikki', `Detective Heat', `Detective Nikki Heat' and `the detective', if not all on one page then certainly all in quite short order.

The supporting characters from 'Castle' are mainly present, and only very thinly disguised, including Castle's mother. We've lost his daughter, but gained an additional female detective. Castle himself is represented by journalist Jameson Rook - ohhhh, Rook, I see what they did there - whose excuse for tagging along after Nikki Heat is even less convincing than Castle's. Castle the character, that is. Not Castle the writer. Who doesn't exist.

Ummmm ...

Incidentally, if any of these characters did exist (which, we have established: no), I can't think that Kate Beckett would be very pleased with Castle at his giving Nikki Heat a murdered mother, since that's something she's tried to keep private throughout the show. But then, Castle often needs a smack. If he weren't the lovely Nathan Fillion, he would undoubtedly get a lot more than he does.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 November 2010
Voice performer Johnny Heller does for the audio edition of NAKED HEAT precisely what actors do for the popular TV series "Castle," - he brings them all to vivid life. As most know Richard Castle's lead character whether in print or on TV is a good looking, bright, wise-cracking writer who helps solve crimes while keeping both eyes on a beautiful policewoman. Heller inhabits his persona, equally adept at smart remarks and tracking a murderer. He's a relaxed reader, even during the story's tense moments, adding to his easy listenability.

Need we also add that Heller has won two Audie Awards and a slew of other honors? You'll be intrigued by the high-profile suspects in this case and the romance between Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook. Suspense + romance = good listening!

The first Castle novel featuring Heat and Rook spent 16 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list, and this non-stop action follow-up seems headed in the same direction.

Once again Nikki is pursued by handsome Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jameson Rook. Glib, ardent, and persistent Rook is a perfect foil for Nikki and her detectives. While she is being pursued, she is more in pursuer mode as New York is rocked by the murder of the city's top gossip columnist Cassidy Towne. The rocking almost becomes an earthquake at headquarters when Towne's body is stolen from the coroner's van carrying it to OMCE.

As it happens Rook had been working on an article about Towne and may have some helpful information, so once again Nikki lets him ride along with her as she follows numerous leads that seem to lead nowhere. Of course, we're often treated to the teasing repartee between this pair, such as Rook: "You know, Detective Heat, you mock me, and it hurts." Heat: "Skills." With just enough levity along the way NAKED HEAT introduces listeners to an intriguing cast of characters from a famous rock star to a major league baseball player to a perverted giant called the Texan who enjoys torturing his victims with dental picks before killing them. While there is a large cast, Castle fits the pieces together nicely and builds to a surprising conclusion.

As described Towne was a mean "mud-slinging gossip columnist" who had "lots of enemies. It was in the job description." But which one of those who hated her would actually kill her, and why?

For this listener the dialogue could easily turn from clever to cliche, such as "the usual suspects" or "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?" With a large cast of characters, new ones introduced throughout, it's a bit of a bumpy listening ride. But, if you're a fan of ABC's "Castle," you'll enjoy the trip.

- Gail Cooke
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on 31 August 2013
If you are a fan of Castle, then reading the books is a back up as you hear about the books regularly in the series dialogue. Although the character names are different it is obvious that the characters are pretty much the same as the TV show so I tend to imagine the programme actors as the book characters. The story is predictable and is unlikely to be a best seller. However if you know the TV show it is worth an easy read.
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on 16 May 2013
If you're a Castle fan you NEED to get this book! It's written in exactly the way you would expect Rick to write and as such, it's simply brilliant!
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on 3 May 2012
To be honest, Heat Wave was fun to read... as an offspring of the Castle serie.
It was enjoyable yes but mostly enjoyable to those enjoying Castle serie 1, serie 2 and serie 3.
Like me, no need to say.
When I started to read Naked Heat, I was hoping for an improved oeuvre of Richard Castle and his oh-yeah-she-is-a-great-gal-allrite Nikki Heat.
The novel got me enthusiastic from the start and yes, till the very end!
Even for those unfamiliar with the 3 seasons of Castle, this one is very enjoyable stuff to put your hands on.
It is by all means very recommandable !
More than that, it is very and totally enjoyable !!!
So what can I say but... get a copy and start reading :-)
Thank you Mister Writer, you are getting better and better at it.
I can't wait to start reading your third work of art. Merci!

Bernd
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on 29 August 2014
Enjoyed the first book in this tie-in series, but realise now that was largely due to the novelty of reading a book that had been featured in a TV series. The quality of the writing really doesn't sustain much interest once the tie-in novelty wears off.
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on 18 January 2012
As other reviewers have commented, a lot of the enjoyment of reading these novels is because of their tie in with the TV show Castle. Watching the series and then reading the books adds another layer completely, and it is one that I find entertaining. The story itself is very good and like the episodes it had a few twists before we got the murderer at the end. The characterisation of the four main characters is wonderful. Whoever thought of the idea and whoever wrote the novels are to to be commended. I love them
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