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S8 E4
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October 13, 2015 at 05:50 AM EDT

No one ever wants to admit that the truth is, in fact, subjective. But this week on Castle, a liar dies because he comes across a lie that offends his own moral code. Everyone sets their own personal boundaries on what they’ll lie about and for what purpose. And though Beckett visibly blanches when marital lies comes up in the case, the only truth she reveals to Castle at the end of the episode is that she actually hates his favorite novel.

The murder in question takes place in what’s supposed to be a sanctuary for reforming sinners. A man kneels at an altar alone, and pleads, “Oh, Lord. Am I on the right path? If so, give me a sign.” A shadow lines up with the sun in the stained-glass window in front of him and shoots him, shattering the piece in the process. This is Dave Johnson, whose vanilla-scented name turns out to be a clue to his situation. His priest can’t think of a reason why anyone would want to kill the man. A “faithful parishioner” and “loving husband,” the priest also insists that Johnson was a world-famous novelist. The name on his ID doesn’t ring any literary bells, but his pseudonym does. P.J. Moffat published one novel that took the world by storm and then slipped into obscurity. Alexis and Castle share a worshipful relationship with The Butcherbird’s Song; and of course the book by our fictional spotlight-shy novelist has a flying thing in its title. Too soon, show.

Johnson’s secret identity gives Castle an edge on the case, since he’s a self-described expert on the writer. But in order to have a reason to stroll through the doors of the 12th, he picks up Johnson’s widow, Wendy, as a client. He’s still intent on winning Beckett back through seductive crime solving (a phrase that had better be the translated title of this show in at least three foreign countries) as Martha half-warns/half-counsels her daughter-in-law. So he delivers Wendy to make her statement. The woman had only been married to Johnson for less than a year but felt like she’d “known him forever” because of the book that was his legacy. Her fixation on his work instead of the man is disconcerting, but she does explain why a literary giant was working as a janitor. Johnson had been researching another book for the past several years in the immersive, Method manner he preferred. This one dealt with the Mafia, who everyone knows hates avenging itself and protecting its interests. He told his wife he’d had a meeting with a man that day and it had gone wrong; that man, Ryan and Esposito discover, is known-gangster Milton Cicero. But Cicero didn’t sit down with Johnson or P.J. Moffat, for that matter. The man he was talking to was infamous Irish mobster and rat Jimmy “Two Guns” O’Malley, a clear reference to Whitey Bulger and a lynchpin in this Castle/Black Mass crossover. (We all wish.) Cicero called his tip into Boston in the hopes of reaping a reward.

Johnson likely had several more false names to uncover, but Beckett and her team realize quickly that their victim is a man who was running a number of cons. But if the Irish mob believed Johnson to be O’Malley, then they still could have taken him out. Ryan and Esposito track their hitman Billy O’Rourke to his hotel room and find him lending an ear to Castle’s marriage troubles over a boozy lunch. After he tossed him in his truck but before shooting him in the face, O’Rourke recognized that his target didn’t look anything like O’Malley. And maybe he is as “lovely” a guy as Castle claims he is, because when he finds out that Johnson wrote his favorite book, he pays for his potential victim’s dry cleaning and asks for an autograph. At the very least, he’s a professional. Ryan and Esposito have the sad duty of informing both of them that the signature is a fake, so O’Rourke’s trip was a total bust, minus his excellent seats for The Lion King.

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Espo points out a bizarre discrepancy between the precinct’s diagnosis of Johnson’s behavior and his actual behavior. Con men do what they do to scam people out of money. So far, they haven’t found any cash trails stemming from any of the victim’s identities. The priest is penniless; his wife isn’t from a wealthy family; and the real and very alive P.J. Moffat is receiving his royalty checks just fine. What even is the point?

O’Rourke observed Johnson having a verbal altercation with a “tall guy” outside of his apartment; unlike Johnson, Eric Logan is a scam artist with a record. Ryan and Esposito track Logan to a non-descript building at night and nearly put a few bullets through Castle when some suspicious noises spook them. Castle is having way too much fun with his spy gear catalogues; he’d placed a tracking device on Esposito earlier in the episode. And it’s a testament to their weird, loyal friendship that the only fallout is some mild grumpiness on the detective’s part. All three investigators go into the building together and find Logan leading what looks like a 12-step meeting. He was Johnson’s sponsor at Pathological Liars Anonymous, and what O’Rourke saw was Logan entreating Johnson to come to a meeting since he’d lately “fallen off the wagon.” Logan proves his unyielding commitment to the truth by calling Castle a “Patterson wannabe,” so even though the writer is ready to throw down, he and his cop buddies can at least trust Logan’s claim that Johnson was collecting evidence of something major in the hopes of exposing a public lie.

NEXT: Look to the De Niro 

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