Home / Books / Naked Heat | Nikki Heat Series : Book 2 | By Tom Straw (as Richard Castle) | Book Review

Naked Heat | Nikki Heat Series : Book 2 | By Tom Straw (as Richard Castle) | Book Review

We love reading thrillers, detective fictions and police procedural.

In our quest to find some quality books in this segment, we found Nikki Heat books penned by fictional author Richard Castle. These books are actually ghost-written by Tom Straw.

We really like the way the first book in the series is written. You can read our detailed book review for the same at the following link:

The book made us curious to explore all the books in the series. Naked Heat is the second book in the series. We read the same found it equally interesting. Here I am sharing my personal and unbiased views and reviews for the same on behalf of Team ThinkerViews.

Book Cover:

Let us start with the cover page.

Being a port-key to the virtual world explored within, the book cover is responsible for making the first impression of the book it is associated with. Despite believing in the fact that, “one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”, we also acknowledge the importance of the first impression and thus book cover. A good cover page can influence a large number of book purchase and/or read decisions.

Naked Heat | Nikki Heat Series : Book 2 | By Tom Straw (as Richard Castle) | Book Review

Heat Wave | Nikki Heat Series : Book 1 | By Tom Straw (as Richard Castle) | Book Review

As you can see the cover page follow the theme of the first book in the series. Eventually, when you will explore other books in the series, you will find that all of them follows the same theme. This gives an impression of uniformity across all the books in the series, making the reader to go ahead reading the remaining instalments in the series with the feeling of entering into a familiar zone.

Based on the title of the book, the cover page could have some adult only material. However, the designer’s idea of representing the NewYork city in the background and super imposed by the illustration of the female protagonist. This illustration meets the need of the book title without spreading any vulgarities.

It is also a challenge to represent the famous populous city of USA on the book cover. The designer has applied his logic here and done a really good job.

To me, it is an eye catching cover page. What are your thoughts about it?

The Plot:

Let us take a bird’s eye view of the book plot.

Nikki Heat’s last case has affected her personal life as well. While initially reluctant of having the company of reporter James “Jameson” Rook, she eventually enjoyed working in his proximity. They developed a personal equation and their feelings for each other took them to a different virtual world. In terms of professional life, Rook’s article baed on the way the case is solved was published in the leading daily, making Heat really famous.

Nikki’s core team, especially Roach felt that the article is more focused on Nikki downplaying the role played by the team. Even, Nikki felt that and has also found that the team is not working anymore with the full spirit.

No matter how much we try, the personal and professional life seldom remain totally separate.

Nikki and James are also not having same equation anymore.

But, the life goes on.

One of the most famous gossip columnist, Cassidy Towne, one of the most famous (and hated by many) figures of New York is found dead! Nikki and hear team of homicide detectives have the pressure to solve this cased.

As a reporter, Jameson Rook was also in contact with Cassidy Towne, and was amongst the few people she met in last few days for her life, as per the record.

James and Nikki has to work hand-in-hand on this case, leaving their personal animosity aside. Also, Nikki need to be totally in-sync with her team. The personal state of mind or relations shouldn’t affect the investigation.

Of course, the list of possible suspect can include many prominent figures the team cannot leave any possible stone unturned, which could lead them to any clue about the death of Cassidy Towne.

Will Nikki and her team be in-sync again? Will the team be able solve this case? Who (amongst the many suspects) could have been responsible for Cassidy Towne’s death? Is it a murder? What it has to do with a sportsperson? Well, to get answers to all these questions, you need to read the book.

Over the course, you will meet: Nikki Heat, Captain Montrose, Raley, Ochoa, T. Michael Dove, Jameson Rook, Captain Montrose, Cassidy Towne, Lauren Parry, Cecily, Detective Rhymer, Detective Hinesburg, Tomasso “Fat Tommy” Nicolosi, Chester Ludlow, Grace Ludlow, JJ, Toby Mills, Jess Ripton, Morris Granville, Holly Flanders, Morris Granville, Gary Hart, Margaret Rook, Elizabeth Essex, Richmond Vergennes, Wynn Zanderhoof, Soleil Gray, Reed Wakefield, Allie, Zane Taft, Derek Show, Esteban Padilla, Rance Eugene Wolf, Ronnie Strong, Mitchell Perkins, Reed Wakefield, Helen Miksit, Mr. DeMille, Sistah Strife, and others.

Views And Reviews:

Spread over in 20 chapters (like its predecessor) Naked Heat carries forward the incidents after a short period of time from where it left in Heat Wave. This book is equally good as a standalone read as well. So, if you haven’t read the previous book in the series; you can still go ahead and read it.

This book brings in some interesting words like: “frenemies”.

To remain faithful to the police procedural genre, this book uses some words like uniforms )for unformed cops), plaincloths, ME, and others.

An interesting attribute of this book is its contemporariness. The author brings in various attributes of current lifestyle and way of living. The influence of mobile phones, social media, and other stuff is quite visible in the book. The modern generation readers will like it and will be able to connect with the book quite easily. And, adding them to dark humour and satire makes it even more interesting. Such segments gives the moments of relief in rather tensed and thrilling situations coming throughout the book. For example:

Like most people raised in the say-cheese generation, Nikki came factory-programmed to smile when her picture was taken.

The book has some interesting lines that you will enjoy reading, like:

The man sat down on the floor, panting like a dog in August.

Having strong and well-explored characters is the most positive attribute of the book. All the characters are given their due space and time in the book. We often find the protagonist and the antagonist are hogging up all the limelight, this book is a pleasant exception. For example, all the team members of Nikki’s team are not mere sidekicks, they are bankable assets.

They have their own specialities and in their own area, they are fantastic. The author has also given voice to their emotional turmoil also. Seeing Nikki and James putting in their sincere efforts to resolve the issue and make the things smoother shows both, the softer side of the characters and the importance of having a faithful and bankable relations. It also elaborates that none of the the team members are expendable.

The way, Captain supports Nikki and her team, provides them the support they need and keeps them guarded, without making a hullaballoo for the same, makes his character to stand out. Same we can say for Lauren Parry’s character. Not only her knowledge in the field of medicines is impeccable, but she is also a very dedicated person with the sense of responsibility. For her, Nikki is friend for whom she can easily go extra miles. Yet, she don’t make false promises. She also respects Nikki’s team.

Jameson Rook’s character gives relaxed moments and he is a very chill guy. At the same time, his ethics and intelligence are his great quality. He is a happy-go-lucky guy who is damn serious about what he does. Though, he don’t show heroism like the law enforcement team members, he has courage to do whatever is required. He is good at managing relations and drawing favors from his contacts for the others, especially for Nikki and her team. His mother is one of the coolest mothers you have seen in books.

In short, almost all the characters are well explored. They have their strengths and they have their weaknesses too. None of them is a superhuman. They have vulnerable sides and moments. And, it makes them real. Readers will be able to connect with them emotionally. To me, this is the real success for the author.
Let me quote some segments form the book, so you can have a fair idea of the kind of writing you can expect from it.

You can elaborate various attributes of a character in various ways. While the female protagonist is going through rigorous training to keep herself up-to-the-edge, you simply will admire her. At the same time, you will admire her for her “human-touch” she hasn’t lost, despite working in homicide team and dealing with hardcore criminals. In addition to her ritual of respecting the dead body by keeping silence, this book mentions other incidents like:

With an experienced hand tilting the cup so the momentum of her turn wouldn’t slop coffee over the rim and onto her fingers, Nikki steered left onto 83rd. She had just straightened the wheel passing Cafe Lalo when a dog darted out in front of her. Heat slammed the brakes. Coffee sloshed onto her lap. It was all over her skirt, but she was more concerned about the dog.

Here is a casual conversation that gives many details about the characters, place, time, situation and their interpersonal equations.

“Sorry not to be here sooner, Nikki,” Lauren Parry said as she set her plastic examination cases on the floor. “I’ve been working a double fatal on the FDR since four a . . .” The ME’s voice trailed off when she spotted Rook leaning a shoulder against the connecting door leading to the kitchen. He pulled one of his hands out of his pocket and gave her a wave. She nodded and smiled at him, then turned to Heat and finished her sentence. “. . . four A.M.” With her back to Rook, she was able to sneak a what-the-hell? face to Nikki.

Here are some lines reflecting the policing/detective work, some interesting onliners and other stuff.

For Detective Heat it always began by slowing down and studying the body. The dead didn’t talk, but if you paid attention, sometimes they did tell you things.

If Holly was playing for emotions, Nikki would call her with business. Let her know this wasn’t a jury. Sympathy wouldn’t beat facts

Suspects and interviewees in murder cases have a panorama of reactions to the police. They become defensive, or belligerent, or emotional, or stone-faced, or hysterical.

Training and experience told Nikki that the only fight you want to be in is the one you win–and fast.

Rule #1: The time line is your friend. Rule #2: Some of the best detective work is desk work.

Just as cop humor is laced with dark understatement, cop tension is also between the lines.

Keep your mouth shut, your eyes open, and your secrets buried.

We follow the leads we have, not the ones we wish we had.

The author is good at building scenes and talking in detail about the surroundings, history, technical stuff and much more at the same time. Here are a few examples:

It was just past seven, and the first rays of sun had cleared the turrets of the Museum of Natural History and were beaming golden light that turned the residential block into a placid cityscape begging to be captured in a photo.

When Heat and Rook stepped onto the marble floor of the reception area, they trod the same ground that New York’s mega-wealthy and social elite had for over a century. Within those walls Mark Twain had toasted U. S. Grant at his New York welcoming gala, when the general settled on East 66th Street after his presidency. Morgans, Astors, and Rockefellers had all danced at masked balls at the Milmar. They say Theodore Roosevelt famously broke the color code there by inviting Booker T. Washington to cocktails.

Something stirred Rook awake. A siren, likely an ambulance, judging by its chirps and guttural honks, announcing itself at an intersection over on Park Avenue South before fading into the night. It was one part of New York living he never got used to, the noise. For some it became background they could tune out. Not for him. It challenged him in the day when he wrote, and he never got an unbroken night’s sleep because this was the city that never did. Somebody should write a song about that, he thought.

Jameson Rook glanced up across his office from the screen of his laptop and cast a longing look at the helicopter sitting on the windowsill. His orange Walkera Airwolf had survived the violent room toss by the Texan and now beckoned the writer to take a time-out and come play. He could rationalise a break, too. After drafting for hours, the aluminium body of his MacBook Pro was warm to the touch, bearing witness, he told himself, to his laudable work ethic. It reminded him of the way the helicopter fuselage warmed agreeably after it took flight around his loft.

Here are some interesting lines I found in the book that I liked for various reasons.

When the speechlessness in the bull pen gave way to low muttered curses, and then to actual conversation …

“And have you ever seen the victim around here before?”
He paused dramatically. She hoped he was just beginning his Juilliard drama work, because his acting was all dinner theater.

Nikki couldn’t help herself. The laugh shot out of her with a mind all its own. She was angry at herself for it, but the thing about a laugh like that was you couldn’t take it back. You could only work to suppress the next one. “You . . . you clapped?”

Rook, as adorable as I find that I-Solved-the-Riddle-of-the-Sphinx look on your face, I would hold on to that theory.

There is a satirical conversation I’ve enjoyed reading:

“Then I assume,” said Nikki, “that you and your husband have a good relationship?”
“My husband and I have a great relationship. I got divorced and married again.”

Here is an interesting scenario where Nikki has no choice but to work with Rook:

And besides, without any leads yet, the price to pay for needing Jameson Rook was to actually have to spend time with Jameson Rook.

When in life-threatening situation, the mental toughness is the most important attribute that can save you. For the law enforcement people who are working on streets, such situations are not rare. The training comes to help greatly in such situation. The author, brilliantly weaves this thought in the book at more than one places. For example:

To keep herself from getting swept away in a current of panic, Nikki Heat clung to her training. Fright wouldn’t get her out of this alive. But fight would. She needed to be opportunistic and aggressive. She pushed her fear away and focused on action. She repeated silently to herself: Assess. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

The book has some realistic exploration of physical attributes of various characters. For example, the following scene will make you visualise the character being talked about:

Nikki stood a few moments in the Observation Room to size up Morris Granville through the glass before she went in. His file said he was forty-one, but in person he looked more like he was in his twenties. In spite of his receding hairline and the first strands of gray showing up in his thick brown curls, he had the look of a man-child. Chubby, short, with a pasty complexion and a slouchy posture that made his neck disappear into his double chin.

Human psyche is very strange. The author elaborates the mindset of those who are in one sided love of celebrities, quite effectively.

His look of pride at what he thought was the apparent significance of that fact made her reflect on the psychology of these people, the latch-ons. How they defined themselves by proximity to a stranger. In extreme cases, usually in schizophrenics, they even believed the star was communicating uniquely to them through messages embedded in their songs or talk-show interviews. They obsessed about them to the point that they would go to extraordinary lengths to make themselves relevant in their lives–some even to the point of killing the objects of their infatuation.

Here is an interesting segment of the book. Though, it talks about James Rook, it actually applies to all the authors/writers. It would not be wrong to say, to all the creative fellows who are exploring their art to reach to as many people as possible and entertain them through that. If I have to quote only one segment from the book, I would possible settle for this one.

He wrote as if he were the reader. It was also how he kept his writing from becoming too cute, which is to say, about him not the subject. Rook was a journalist but strove to be a storyteller, one who let his subjects speak for themselves and stayed out of their way as much as possible.

And, the author himself has implemented it to make this book a complete masala entertainer, like a commercial movie or TV/Web series.

Some details require a mature mind to read them. That makes its target readership limited.


A complete entertainer with substance for mature readers who love reading thrilling police procedural.

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 stars out of 10.

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Over To You:

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