SUMMARY: An AU featuring Castle as a hard-boiled private detective in 1940s Los Angeles.
SPOILERS: There are NO spoilers for the S3 finale, but there are references to some characters from S2's "Sucker Punch" and S3's "Knockdown."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is a tribute to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, two authors who would have been tremendously influential to a mystery writer like Richard Castle. Many references throughout my story were taken directly from their works.
Detective Esposito of the 12th Precinct Homicide Division squatted beside the body of John Raglan and scratched the top of his close-cropped head. He was a stocky man with a dark complexion, deep-set eyes and a hard jaw. He shook his head slowly. “This is probably the kind of thing that’s bad for business, huh, Castle?” He stood up and turned around. “What’d he hire you for, anyway?”
Rick Castle was leaning against a wooden filing cabinet with his hands in his pockets. He shrugged. “Never found out. He told me to come to the club tonight so we could talk about it. Seemed kind of nervous on the phone.”
The corner of Eposito’s mouth twitched. “I’m thinking maybe it had something to do with whoever put those two slugs in his chest.”
Castle grinned crookedly. “Guess the guy should have called me sooner.”
“The music must have drowned out the sounds of the shots,” Esposito said. “You see anything strike you as off tonight? Anyone hanging around who shouldn’t have been?” He walked around the desk, knelt in front of the door and started groping around on the green rug.
“Just the usual sorry lot you get in a joint like this,” Castle said. “Killer probably used the back door.”
Esposito’s back was to him. Castle wandered over behind the desk and peered down at it, his head cocked to one side. There was a blank memo pad sitting out, near Raglan’s right hand, with a stubby pencil next to it. The top sheet had been torn off carelessly, leaving ragged strip of paper along the top. Castle reached for it and held it up to the lamp. He could just make out the impression of whatever had been written on the torn off sheet. It was a name—Gary McAllister—written in a shaky hand. He set the memo pad back on the desk.
Esposito stood up and turned around. “No shells. What do you want to bet the powder guys come up empty?”
“You thinking it was professional job?”
“Feels that way. Killer could have laid in wait for him in that closet.” The homicide detective strolled across the room and jerked open the door of the closet. It was just roomy enough for a man to hide in. He bent and picked up something off the floor.
“What’d you find?” Castle asked.
“Gum wrapper.” He unfolded the tiny wad of paper and sniffed it. “Clark’s Tendermint.”
“Always been a Wrigley’s man, myself,” Castle said.
The door opened and a beautiful woman came in carrying a black doctor’s bag. She had a round, dark, face and almond-shaped eyes. “Evening, boys.”
Esposito looked up and grinned. “Must be my lucky night. I was hoping the M.E.’s office would send you, Lanie.”
Dr. Lanie Parish, forensic specialist with the Los Angeles medical examiner’s office, pursed her lips in irritation. “Yeah? Well I’m glad one of us is happy. I was hoping to enjoy a quiet evening at home with a book and a bubble bath.”
Esposito smiled smoothly, exposing a row of even, white teeth. “If it makes you feel any better, you look stunning tonight, Doc.”
She shook her head and smiled. “Go on, copper.”
Castle rolled his eyes. “Get a room, you two.”
Lanie threw him a look. “Funny how you always seem to have your nose in it whenever there’s trouble, Rick.” She walked over to the dead man and set her bag on the desk. Then she stooped over Raglan’s body, peering closely at the two holes in his chest. “Two shots to the chest. Hard slugs, .32’s, probably. Close to the heart but not touching it.”
“How long after the shots before he died, you think?” Castle asked.
“Within a minute,” she said. “Maybe two.” She’d pulled a form pad out of her bag and was already scribbling notes for her report.
Castle gazed across the room at Raglan, the man who’d tried to hire him, and shook his head. “Poor sap.”