Jeannie Ruesch

Don’t you love a good mystery?

I know I do, whether it comes in book, movie or…author form?  If any of you have tuned in to ABC’s hit show CASTLE, you’re familiar with the handsome, charming bestselling author Richard Castle (played by Nathan Fillion.)  The premise of the show revolves around Castle’s partnership with the beautiful and tough Kate Beckett – who becomes the inspiration for his Castle’s new book series Nikki Heat.

As both a writer and a marketing professional, I’ve loved the fact that the books mentioned on the show – the Nikki Heat books – have been written.  The first book, NY Times bestseller HEAT WAVE, came out on the heels of the show’s first season (which began in March 2009.) The next book, NAKED HEAT, releases in September (which coincides nicely with the premiere of the show’s third season.)

However, the biggest mystery isn’t in the plotlines of the books or the episodes.  It’s in who is actually writing the books.

In all accounts, from the book jacket itself to the Amazon listing to the placement on the New York Times bestseller list, Richard Castle is listed as the author.  But Castle is fictional.  He’s a character.  So who is behind these books?

Disclaimer: No, I don’t have the absolute answer. Truth be told, I like the bit of mystery that goes along with this.    I do love researching online and trying to figure things out, so it was fun to see what I could find based on articles and other people’s attempts to discover the true author.    And from what I’ve found, it seems a large percentage believe it’s been solved.  But has it?

Let’s take a look at the facts as they presented themselves:

1.  No one is ‘fessing to writing the books.

2. Nathan Fillion does book signings, but he said to Parade Magazine, “I don’t show up and pretend to be Richard Castle.”   So he isn’t claiming or even acting as if he has penned the bestsellers.

3. The publisher, Hyperion, has given only one clue:  The real author has appeared on Castle.  (1)

4. As we know there are a number of well-known authors who have appeared in Castle’s poker games – including James Patterson, Stephen Cannell, and Michael Connelly.

5. The about-the-author blurb on the Heat Wave cover offers:  Richard Castle is the author of numerous bestsellers, including the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm series.  His first novel, In a Hail of Bullets, published while he was still in college, received the Nom DePlume Society’s prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature.   Castle currently lives in Manhattan with his daughter and mother, both of whom infuse his life with humor and inspiration.

6. The “Nom DePlume Society.”  If it exists, it’s a secret society, because I couldn’t find an actual record of anywhere. (Not that I do believe it is real, but I had to be thorough.)

7. Tom Straw – the “award bearing name”– however does exist.  He is an actual person, who is –shocker – a writer.  He’s written a mystery novel THE TRIGGER EPISODE, as well as maintained a successful career as an award-nominated writer for shows such as Mary Tyler Moore, Night Court, COSBY and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  Not surprisingly, on the Amazon page for his book,  the most common books people who purchased his book also bought were the Richard Castle books.

8.  Tom Straw is also referenced in the Author’s Note in the book.

Which means for Tom Straw to be a “suspect” in this mystery, we have to prove he’s appeared on the show.  According to Nathan Fillion (and Parade Magazine), he has.  But when? What episode?

This required a little more digging, but ultimately I found the answer.  He did appear on the show, in a non-speaking, cameo role.  And the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the video.

Here is a screen shot taken from CASTLE’S Season 2, Episode 5 — during the launch party of HEAT WAVE (which is ironic).   The man sitting at the table with Nathan Fillion is Tom Straw (or an identical twin.)

Comparing the gentleman shaking NF’s hand to the picture of Tom Straw on his website:

Absolutely seems to be the same man.    A transcript of this episode can be found here.  So that verifies the last bit of information.

Does this 100% solve the mystery?  I think the only way to know that is if the players involved confessed, but in light of that… how far does this case make it in the court of CASTLE fans?  If you are the jury on this case, do you say “Guilty?”

But truth be told, I hope we never know for sure.    As a fan of the TV series and as a marketing professional, I’m fascinated by the marketing strategy here.  But most of all, it’s just fun.  I like a little mystery in life.

Jeannie Ruesch writes historical romantic suspense. Her upcoming novel comes out November 17, 2014 - A Rogue's Deadly Redemption. Check out her books at


  1. Barrie
    October 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Wow. I’m speechless on how you figured this out! I LOVE the series but haven’t read any of the books. I am curious, though.

    • Jeannie Ruesch
      October 13, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks Barrie. I love the series, too — and this year, I like the twist of Castle’s disappearance and missing two months. Though I wish they would have played that out a little longer.

  2. Emma
    October 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I don’t need to know the real author – I agree, the mystery is sort of fun! What I would love to know, however, is whether they all share the *same* ghostwriter. I loved Heat Wave and thought it fit in well with the tone of the show, but tend to get whiplash when there’s an author change mid-series – and with these all ‘written’ by the Castle monicker, there’s no way to know if that happens here. Has there been official word on this – or, if you’ve read the later Heat books (or the Storm books), do you have a guess as to whether they’re by the same author?

  3. Seaumas
    October 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Thanks. I’m reading the “Storm” series and I love them. This one, “Wild Storm” is one of the best I’ve come across of any thriller author this year. My best guess- and it certainly is a ‘wild guess’- is that the plot is set up and patterned after Michael Connelly. James Patterson’s novels are very rough and gritty with little gentility about them. Of course, Its not Stephen J. Cannell. Tom Straw has done a bunch of “ghost” work for other writers, sometimes subbing under other famous authors. He is a true artist and craftsman and can be whatever the deal is. I love his stuff and recognize it. Writing fiction is tough work and an author who wants to make a success at it must be a virtual graphomaniac. “May I have some more, please, Sir?”

  4. Joan
    November 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Wow! what a mystery. I love it. I hope we do find out the truth some day. I love the series and the new book, “Raging Heat.”
    Nathan Fallon must be getting paid to continue the “mystery.”

    • Susan
      November 10, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Joan, I agree with your first sentence, but the actor’s name is Nathan Fillion.

  5. Carolee Gross
    Carolee GrossReply
    November 11, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Well right now I am reading Raging Heat and it is better than the last book .I mean the writing is much better.I do not know who wrote it but thanks it is very interesting.I have s problem leaving it ; it is so captivating.hope others buy it.

  6. Aparna
    November 15, 2014 at 7:57 am

    By the way, Nathan at Comic ocn confirmed your analysis that it is Tom Straw who is writing the books.
    This is the video of the comic con conversation:
    He talks about the incident at 34:38

    So wonderful that you figured it out before the rest of us…

    Love castle & all the nikki heat books

  7. Janice Hougland
    Janice HouglandReply
    November 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I’ve never watched Castle, but I love reading mysteries and romantic suspense…sometimes thrillers if they’re not too gory (e.g., I never liked Silence of the Lamb or that ilk…bleh). But now that I’ve read this blog post I think I’ll try Castle and see what I think about it. Thanks for the tip and the added mystery about the author. :-)

  8. david
    December 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

    not bad

  9. Mary Ann
    Mary AnnReply
    January 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I am rereading the Nikki Heat novels and have come upon one that has not been mentioned in the blog. Deadly Heat. Is it new?


  10. Vixyy Fox
    February 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm


    We love the series too! The actors are wonderful (all of them) and the chemistry between them is superb. I am most impressed with the writers who never seem to lose the spark. They are totally the unseen heroes of this series. I would love to be able to send them a note telling them so.

    Vixyy Fox

  11. maggie
    March 4, 2015 at 2:53 am

    Does anyone else think the author might be a woman? There is something about the way nicki and rook’s relationship is described and the choice of ‘incidental’ info, such as the relationship between nicki and lauren that makes me think it’s a woman.

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