Nikki Heat is the lead character in Richard Castle's Nikki Heat book series.
Heat is "loosely" based on NYPD detective Kate Beckett, possessing a similar backstory, in that her decision to become a detective was motivated by the death of someone close to her – although Heat has a niece and siblings that Beckett lacks – and the first case she investigates is adapted from several real cases Castle helped Beckett solve. Heat is assisted by sometimes-lover journalist Jameson Rook, and colleagues, Detectives Raley and Ochoa.
Beckett discovers Nikki Heat and tries to make Castle change the name in the episode "Hell Hath No Fury," despite Castle's pleas about the potential titles offered by such a name.
The first Nikki Heat novel, Heat Wave, was released in the Season 2 episode "When the Bough Breaks". This was such a commercial success that Castle was offered a three-book deal to continue writing the series, with sufficient financial incentive that he put aside an offer to write books dealing with "a certain British secret agent". Castle's agent at the time, Paula, observes of the book and Beckett, "That's one hell of a love letter you wrote her." It was mentioned in the Season 3 episode, "He's Dead, She's Dead" that Castle's second Nikki Heat novel, Naked Heat, would be published soon. In the Season 4 premiere, "Rise", Castle was at a book signing party for the third book, Heat Rises, suggesting that it was released during the 2 month time jump in that episode. They are then followed by Frozen Heat.
Nikki and Rook also made a cameo appearance in Richard Castle's Derrick Storm novel, Storm Front, where they interviewed Storm after he was detained by the NYPD for being in the room with a dead body.
Serial killer Scott Dunn became fixated on Nikki Heat/Kate Beckett after reading the book; FBI agent Jordan Shaw concluded that this fixation was caused because, like Dunn's habit of committing murder sprees to write about them, Heat/Beckett represented a detective who was both real and imaginary at the same time.
A movie was based on Nikki Heat's first book, Heat Wave. Nikki Heat was portrayed by Natalie Rhodes (played by Laura Prepon), but due to various issues (including Rhodes going to rehab), it was released straight to DVD.
The daughter of Jeff and Cynthia Heat, Nikki grew up in New York. In 1999, while home from Northeastern University for Thanksgiving, her mother was murdered. This caused her to switch majors from theater to criminal justice, and after graduating, Nikki joined the New York City Police Department.
Assigned to the 20th Precinct first as a uniformed patrol officer and then as a detective, Nikki eventually rose up the ranks and by 2009, she held the rank of Detective 1st Grade and was the leader of the Homicide Squad. She worked under Captain Charles Montrose, and her team consisted of Detectives Miguel Ochoa and Sean Raley. She also frequently consulted with her best friend, Medical Examiner Lauren Parry. After the events of Heat Rises, her team grows to include Detective Randall Feller, formerly of the NYPD Taxi Squad, and Detective Dan Rhymer, who is ostensibly a member of the precinct's Burglary Division.
In Heat Wave, Nikki was profiled by famous magazine reporter/investigative journalist Jameson Rook, with whom she struck up an on-again, off-again romantic relationship. As he shadowed her, his skills as a reporter and his ability to think outside the box led him to becoming an unofficial-but-integral part of her squad. At the end of Raging Heat, Rook proposes, and the two are married in the epilogue of Driving Heat by their friend and frequent poker buddy, Judge Horace Simpson.
In Heat Rises, Nikki was devastated by the loss of her mentor, Charles Montrose. At the same time, she passed the Lieutenant's exam, but declined the promotion due to her desire to remain a homicide detective. Montrose was replaced by Captain Wally Irons, an administrator and bureaucrat who was not very well-liked or respected by Nikki, especially after he began sleeping with precinct Detective Sharon Hinesburg.
In Frozen Heat, Nikki found a lead in her mother's murder case that ultimately led to its conclusion in Deadly Heat. It was revealed that Cynthia was a CIA agent who worked as a piano tutor for the children of various foreign nationals, and that she was murdered because she had uncovered a terrorist plot. She also learned that her ex-boyfriend from college, Petar Matic, was a spy and the one who actually killed her mother.
After the death of Captain Irons in Raging Heat, Nikki took the promotion to Captain to prevent the brass from assigning some other "incompetent" officer to take over command of the 20th Precinct. Her first few days on the job, as depicted in Driving Heat, were somewhat challenging as she struggled to acclimate to her new duties and release the reigns on her old job, but she and her team were ultimately responsible for the resolution of the crisis.
In Heat Storm, Presidential candidate Senator Lindsy Gardner offers Heat a position in her Cabinet as Director of Homeland Security if she wins the election.
Notes and Trivia
- Nikki is a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and often spars with Don, her Navy SEAL combat trainer-with-benefits until his murder in Frozen Heat.
- Nikki drives a Ford Taurus Police Interceptor and carries the NYPD-issue SIG-Sauer P226 DAO as her duty weapon (unlike Beckett, who uses the Glock 19).
- Nikki lived at an apartment in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan until she moved into Jameson Rook's place in Tribeca.