Categorized | Features

Storm Front, by Richard Castle

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
This is a work of fiction written by a fictional person. Richard Castle, as played by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion, is the star of a TV show called Castle. He hangs out with NYPD detective Kate Beckett, played by Canadian actress Stana Katic, and uses the cases they solve as the raw material for a successful series of crime novels.
At some point, early in the series, somebody decided it would be a good idea to get some nameless hacks to crank out real copies of the books Castle was purportedly writing on the TV show. Turns out it was not a bad idea. The nameless hacks are never identified, although there is a raging controversy on the Internet as to their identity, but they know how to write.
They also, at least in this particular novel, know how to keep the tongue firmly lodged in the cheek. The book is not a put-on, maybe not even a parody, but it has a sense of style that keeps it floating just above the realistic.
For example — on page two hero Derrick Storm (note spelling of first name), disguised as a gondolier, sings a mildly obscene song to express his dislike for his passenger. On page five Storm uses his two-way wrist radio to check in with his boss. Shades of Dick Tracey. And it builds from there.
The nameless hack never lets things get out of control, but he gets in a steady stream of fairly subtle jokes. One of the most obvious is the name of one of the main characters, whose name is Graham Cracker, but who goes by his first name, which is Whitely.
Most of the cast are normal. Some are bad guys and some are good, and they follow paths familiar to readers of crime novels. Most of the fun comes from Storm, who approaches each new crisis with an easy-going sense of confidence and manages to emerge unscathed, having pulled off stunts of derring-do only he could handle.
One interesting note that could be useful. The hack manages to use the word “excruciation,” probably the first time ever in print. Now that we all know it is a real word, we can stop saying, “I hope you’re feeling better,” and say, “I hope your excruciation is transitory.”

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