It’s a recipe for murder when you invite two competing pop stars to the same party, and throw in a DJ with a criminal ties.
Regina Cane, famed pop-star for a decade, is upstaged at her own launch party by new-comer Josie Lang. Holly Rhodes, aka DJ Beat, leaves the party early, toting a gun in her bag, only to be found dead across town, a phone-number scrawled on her palm.
They trace the number to record producer Tyrese Wilton, and find him in his studio with Josie. As her number one fan, Ryan jumps at the chance for an interview (and an autograph), while Esposito questions Tyrese. He tells Esposito that he’d given Holly his number in an effort to connect professionally; he wanted to sign her. Tyrese also mentions a fight Holly had at the party with MC Thug, a rapper with a record, who matches the description of a man who came to Holly’s apartment in a fit of rage days earlier.
They bring MC Thug in, and he’s thrilled at the chance to increase his street cred. But, he says, he didn’t kill Holly. He merely threatened her after his girlfriend’s jewelry vanished from a party that Holly was DJing. Realizing that Holly and her assistant had schemed to steal valuables at multiple parties, they call in the latter, only to discover that Holly had hired a different assistant for targeted events.
They bring in Holly’s partner in crime, nicknamed “Monster”–who turns out to be a 14-year-old kid named Joey. Clearly not a criminal mastermind–nor a murderer–his only chance to escape a prison sentence is to name his and Holly’s boss. He refuses out of loyalty, and Esposito offers to baby-sit him until he opens up.
Joey breaks out of Esposito’s apartment, taking the opportunity to call his boss, Shane Winters–a man who had posted both his bail and Holly’s. The carpet in Shane’s car should match the synthetic fibers found on Holly’s body, but it’s too late to get any hard evidence; he’s already torched it. Joey still refuses to help the detectives…until Esposito shows him a video of Shane turning on him. At that point, he admits that he was hired by Shane to steal a cellphone from Tyrese…who, when asked, hadn’t reported anything missing.
Esposito and Ryan return to Tyrese’s studio to confront him, but before they go inside, they notice a Chinese restaurant across the alley. With MSG and traces of peanut oil found on Holly’s body, the pair investigate, only to discover a blood spatter behind the dumpster. When they confront Tyrese about his stolen phone, he tells them that it was only missing for a short while, but that it holds the key codes to unlock his studio. Nothing’s missing, but they soon realize that Josie’s master tracks have been accessed–a leak that could devastate her record sales.
Castle and Beckett confront Regina Cane. With her record sales slipping and Josie poised to knock her out of the picture, Regina hired Shane to steal the phone. She wanted access to the files in the studio in order to crush Josie’s career and save her own. When Holly got wind of the plan, she showed up to stop her, but Regina killed Holly with her own gun, then called Shane to dump the body.
Esposito confronts Shane. With no evidence to tie him directly to the crime, he’s going to walk–but Esposito doesn’t want him anywhere near Joey or any other vulnerable kid. He threatens to kill Shane if he crosses him again. Afterward, Esposito shows Joey his own juvenile record, and tells Joey that he wants to be the person in his life to help him get on the right path.
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