Monday, December 13, 2010

Who is Richard Castle really?

One of the joys of being in Hawaii is laying out on the beach all day reading terrific books by authors who don’t exist. If Richard Castle were not fictional, he would be up there among the mystery writer elite.

I just finished his latest, Naked Heat, and loved it.

In case you're unfamiliar, Richard Castle is the character charmingly played by Nathan Fillion on the ABC hit series, CASTLE. He’s a mystery writer following around a real detective, played by Stana Katic, who’s either smoking hot or a stuck-up ice queen depending upon your viewpoint.  Not that the latter isn't a turn-on. 

The conceit of Naked Heat is that it was written by Richard Castle, as if he really existed. Lots of shows have novelizations but they don’t claim the show character is actually real. Another franchise that did employ this ploy successfully was MURDER, SHE WROTE. There is a series of books supposedly written by Jessica Fletcher, while Angela Lansbury was off making pies with Sweeney Todd.

On the other hand, at least the publishers are admitting that these authors are fictional. One of my favorite statements ever was from football great Terrell Owens who claims he was “misquoted in his own autobiography”.

(And there was the time I was in London visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street when some tourists wanted to know if this was really the house he lived in.)

The fictional author gambit has paid off handsomely for CASTLE. The first book sold 200,000 copies and spent sixteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. And the new book is taking off even faster.

But aside from trading on the show’s popularity, what makes this potboiler so surprising is that it’s really good on it’s own. The mystery is clever, the snap and sizzle of the series is all there, but there’s also a deepening of the characters that you don’t find on the TV show.

So I recommend it. Go to Hawaii and read this book.

The only thing is – I feel bad for the real writer. He deserves bestsellers of his own. Wouldn’t it be great if his real name really turns out to be Jessica Fletcher?

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