Thursday, 21 November 2013

Deadly Heat by Richard Castle

NYPD Homicide detective Nikki Heat double-parked her gray Crown Victoria behind the coroner van and strode toward the pizza joint where the body waited.

Setting, character - Ms. Heat, a car and a body. Not bad for one sentence. Unfortunately, the narrative takes a detour into back story before the reader has a chance to get comfortably hooked. That first line had my attention but then the back story took my feeble attention and spit it into the wind.

Ms. Heat freezes halfway through the door of the pizza joint and flashbacks a month's worth of activity in her brain before getting all the way through the door of that pizza place. Why? All for you dear reader.

I can just picture Ms. Heat frozen in mid-step, as she reviews her past for our benefit. It would have to be for at least as long as it would take to read it so perhaps for a minute, maybe more, if your attention wandered as much as mine did. The other detectives must have thought Ms. Heat slipped into a catatonic state or was constipated or maybe that Ms. Heat was just being mysteriously aloof because her colleagues don't pay enough attention to her - Ms. Heat, that is.

The back story wanders from Ms. Heat (she should consider a name change - forms here, Ms. Heat) being interviewed by a journalist to a suitcase being stolen from her mother's apartment to learning something at the deathbed of an old CIA controller to arresting Petar to hooking up with journalist to Ms. Heat's picture being published in newsstands.

Finally after almost three pages we get back to the present at the pizza joint door and the dead body waiting for the Ms. Heat's coveted attention with the first thing said:

"Coming in?"

That's one of the detectives asking Ms. Heat if she plans on standing in the door for the rest of the chapter.

It turns out the body had been baked in the oven. That and the opening line salvage this and give it a meh. The back story dump smothers it - page 1 is too soon for back story, even if it is Ms. Heat's.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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