As any good fan of the TV show Castle knows, Nikki Heat is by no means Richard Castle's first famous character. The show starts off with his concludin...moreAs any good fan of the TV show Castle knows, Nikki Heat is by no means Richard Castle's first famous character. The show starts off with his concluding his long-running Derrick Storm series, and the particular explosive ending he gives those books is a nice little character development point for Castle since it leads right into why he tags along with the NYPD. And given the success of the Nikki Heat tie-in novels, it was pretty much inevitable that additional material involving Derrick Storm would be eventually made available to us fans. This time around, though, they've elected to give us a graphic novelization of the "first Derrick Storm novel".
It's a clever choice, and certainly provides some nice variety for the Castle tie-in material as well as general versimilitude--since quite a few well-known authors in SF have graphic novelizations of their work going, such as Jim Butcher and Richelle Mead. But the important question is, as a graphic novel, does Richard Castle's Deadly Storm work?
Art-wise, it will probably surprise no one who glances through this work that Derrick Storm comes out looking suspiciously Nathan-Fillion-esque. Other than that, I vacillated between quite liking several panels and being indifferent to several others, so I ultimately came out uncertain if I liked the art style. Story-wise, I was definitely ambivalent. It read like a truncated version of a meatier story--certainly, given the overall style of the Nikki Heat novels, this seemed much jerkier of pacing by comparison. And while this might only add to the versimilitude of a "graphic novel adaptation", it nonetheless left me wishing I'd actually gotten a novel version of this story instead.
All in all if you're enough of a Castle fan to be a completist, you might want to pick this up. Otherwise, for now, the Nikki Heat novels are actually more amusing. Two stars.(less)
I read Ghost Ship, Book 2 of P.J. Alderman's Port Chatham series, right on the heels of Book 1. And was delighted that I did, because while both are s...moreI read Ghost Ship, Book 2 of P.J. Alderman's Port Chatham series, right on the heels of Book 1. And was delighted that I did, because while both are standalone stories, the continuation of the relationship between lead characters Jordan and Jase flows beautifully right out of Book 1. It is, hands down, my favorite thing about the second book.
But that said, everything else about Ghost Ship is also a fun followup to Haunting Jordan. Jordan is once again called upon by Port Chatham's deceased residents to investigate one of their own murders, setting up another dual plotline that bounces back and forth between the past and the current timelines. This time the ghostly victim is Michael, the former rival for the affections of Jordan's ghostly roommate Hattie--and Michael's much more aggressive about having been killed. The modern murder is of Michael's own descendant. Naturally, Jordan has to solve both at once!
We get some fun development of what all Jordan's capable of seeing in this book, as well as some further explanation of what the ghosts of Port Chatham are themselves able to do. There's advancement of Jordan's friendship with Darcy, the (refreshingly) female sheriff of the town, as well as the aforementioned romantic advancement. On the strength of the image in my reader's eye given me by the very last page alone, I almost liked this one even more than the first, and am greatly looking forward to what Alderman will be writing next. Five stars.(less)
I'm delighted to report that Haunting Jordan by P.J. Alderman was one of the most charming cozy mysteries I've read in some time. (And, happily, its B...moreI'm delighted to report that Haunting Jordan by P.J. Alderman was one of the most charming cozy mysteries I've read in some time. (And, happily, its Book 2 was equally engaging--but more on that in that book's review.)
The Jordan of the title is our heroine Jordan Marsh, a therapist who's fled L.A. to avoid the storm of controversy surrounding her philandering husband's murder. She's been a suspect, and indeed is still considered a suspect by a particularly determined detective even though she's been cleared of any wrongdoing. Now she's resettling in the Pacific Northwest, hoping to start a new life. Problem is, that quaint old house she's hoping to renovate is already occupied. By two ghosts who want her to solve one of their own murders. And much to Jordan's deep chagrin, her ability to see and interact with not only these ghosts but every other ghost in the town makes her an instant figure of color to everyone else in Port Chatham, especially Jase Cunningham, her handsome neighbor.
Thus begins a dual plotline, one with Jordan delving deep into researching the town's history to try to figure out what happened to the deceased Hattie, and the other with the murder of Jordan's husband and the fallout around it chasing her to Port Chatham. You have to suspend your disbelief a bit in regards to the historical plotline, and go with the flow that apparently every prominent ghost in the town had their lives so well and thoroughly documented that letters and journals and newspapers of the time are conveniently around for Jordan to read through--but even given that, the exploration of those characters' fates is fun.
So is the current-day plot. It takes a bit to set up who the actual killer of Jordan's husband was, given that the history plot gets so much camera time; astute readers will, also, probably figure out faster than I did who did it. But I didn't really care, since I was having such fun with Alderman's prose.
In particular, I had great fun with the developing relationship between Jordan and Jase. Alderman hit all the best ways to make a male lead character attractive to me, starting off with sentences that still stick out for me even as I write this review: "Caffeinated beverages notwithstanding, though, he looked... interesting. Broad shoulders, and a confident, ground-eating stride." And, "Up close, his face was rugged and lived-in... and appealing." This is pretty much all the physical cues that the author needed to give me about Jase's attractiveness, as well as Jordan's reaction to it. Throughout the rest of the book, Jase's appeal is demonstrated through his actions and his participation in the plot, and through his overall laid-back nature--up until he's called up to not be laid-back anymore, at which point he demonstrates his ability to ramp up his focus impressively. In other words, the hero is sexy not because he's mind-bogglingly gorgeous, but because he's awesome.
And I love that. Compared with the more blatant descriptions of so-called sexy heroes that I run into all over paranormal romance and much urban fantasy, not to mention the overtly physical descriptions of how heroines react to them, this was the best possible way to get me invested in the book's budding romance. Combined with the town's overall quirky reaction to Jordan's ghost-seeing ability--i.e., not a single person in the town is surprised that the ghosts exists, and many of them envy her the ability to see them--I found this fun from start to finish.
It's not perfect. Like I said, one does need to suspend a bit of disbelief when it comes to how well the former lives of the ghost characters are documented, and some readers may find the complexity of the plot lacking. But I loved Alderman's prose and characters so much that I didn't care about either of these things, and it is a measure of how much I adored this book and its successor that after I bought the ebooks, I went right back out and bought them in paperback as well so that I'd have offline copies. Alderman has definitely joined my list of authors I want to keep around in print. Five stars.(less)
If you would like to get into the Bethancourt-Gibbons mysteries by Cassandra Chan--an activity I'd highly recommend--then Book 4, A Spider on the Stai...moreIf you would like to get into the Bethancourt-Gibbons mysteries by Cassandra Chan--an activity I'd highly recommend--then Book 4, A Spider on the Stairs, is probably not the place to do it. On the one hand, Chan does a good job of making each story self-contained, and it's not a huge detriment if you come in at this point of the series. But on the other hand, events in the earlier books do influence the ones in this one, and I certainly found my ability to enjoy this story enhanced by knowing what had come before.
In this particular installment of the series, "what had come before" is Jack Gibbons' getting shot in Book 3. A Spider on the Stairs is the first we see of him after he's returned to active duty, trying to nail down whether a particular recent murder is the work of a serial killer at large. Meanwhile, Bethancourt has to deal with a trial of his own: his family over the Christmas holidays. Fortunately for these lucky boys, a new case quickly distracts them both: whether a bookshop employee found strangled on Christmas morning is the work of that same killer.
Overall I liked this one quite a bit. The bookshop murder is (for reasons that ought to be obvious) strongly Relevant to My Interests, but just as fun is getting to see Bethancourt having to deal with his family. On a somewhat more serious note, it's also good strong character development to see both Bethancourt and Gibbons needing to regain their footing now that the latter is back on active duty. As with previous books in the series, there are several nicely portrayed side characters to populate the list of suspects--and of course, this being a mystery novel, the employees of the bookshop have far more drama in their backstories than meets the immediate eye. So yeah, good fun. Four stars.(less)