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A couple is hooking up in a pizza restaurant after hours. However, they smell something cooking. The man, whose father owns the pizza shop, opens the oven and finds a dead body burning.
Alexis is noticeably upset. She tells Castle that for some reason one of her best friends uninvited her to her birthday party. Castle suggests several options including calling the girl’s mother and trying to throw a rival party, but Alexis says that she’ll handle it on her own.
Castle talks to Beckett about Alexis’s problems, but Beckett tells him that Alexis can handle it herself. They arrive on the scene at the pizza restaurant. It seems that the man in the oven was dead before he was thrown into the oven.
They talk to Nick, the man who discovered the body. He says that he and his dad were the last people at the restaurant. And when he and the girl arrived back to the restaurant, it was around 4:30am. The “Authentic Nick,” who the restaurant is named after, comes in. He seems to think that the people who put the body in the oven are the competitors who own competing pizza shops across the street. He tells the cops that they messed up his sauce several weeks ago, so he thinks that this is just the next step in trying to sabotage him.
It doesn’t seem like the cops will be able to get fingerprints. They decide to question the employees of the restaurant, and Castle suggests that they also talk to the competitors. Ryan says that all the employees have alibis, but all of the competitors seem to have complaints and actions registered against each other.
The body is too badly burned for fingerprints, but there are titanium plates in the man’s legs. The plates have identification numbers, so they can identify him as Gordon Burns. Castle knows that Gordon Burns is a reporter, more specifically an investigative reporter. They talk to his editor who tells them that Gordon hadn’t been reporting for a while because his daughter died when she was 10 years old. However, he did occasional stories. The most recent story he was writing was about the “pizza wars.”
Beckett decides to look more closely at the competing restaurant owners. Burns’s missing phone is nowhere to be found. The police go to Burns’s house to find that the door has been left open. The place is completely ransacked. Castle finds a picture of Burns and his daughter, and he remembers seeing her at a book signing. Esposito finds out that Burns’s neighbor was holding his mail for him because he said that he was going out of town for a while. Ryan calls Beckett to tell her that one of the competitors, Sal, has left his fingerprints all over the pizza oven where the body was found.
Sal is brought in for questioning and says that he recognizes Burns. He knows that Burns is a reporter writing a story. He says that he went over to the other restaurant, and his fingerprints are on the oven because he was trying to figure out how to remove the oven to play a trick. He accuses one of the other owners, Ralph. Ralph has a background that is full of criminal and sketchy activity. He says that the feds tried to check him out but found nothing.
Esposito comes in with news about Burns. One of the neighbors in his building said that they heard Burns arguing with another man. It turns out that the man that Burns was arguing with was one of the competing restaurant owners. They bring him in for questioning. He says that he was at home, but his wife told the police that he snuck out before midnight. He was sneaking out to see his mistress, allegedly. He says that the argument was about how Burns was going to write about his pizza. He also says that Burns called him to say he wouldn’t run the story if the man did him a favor.
The police track the call to a hotel. Beckett and Castle find Burns’s computer with his article about the pizza wars. Castle finds a phone number and what looks like a meeting time in Burns’s notebook. The number matches Monica, a woman whose picture was in Burns’s wallet when the police originally found the body.
Castle and Beckett go to see Monica. She hasn’t seen Burns in some time, and the picture was from a long time ago. She tells the police that they were supposed to have a date on the night that he died, but he never showed up.
Ryan finds something in Burns’s financial records. He used his ATM card late on the night that he died, but he never finished the transaction, and after a minute of inactivity, the ATM ate the card. Beckett requests that they find the video surveillance of the ATM.
Castle gets home, and Martha is consoling Alexis. Alexis decided to crash her friend’s party, and it turns out that she was trying to break up Alexis and her boyfriend, Ashley, all along. Her friend kissed Ashley at the party and then posted pictures on her Web site, saying that he cheated on Alexis. Castle asks Ryan to get on the girl’s Web site the next day and take down the pictures, and Ryan agrees.
Beckett finds something interesting on a guy named Harley Romero who was killed. He was involved with drugs, but Burns had been looking into Romero for some reason. The police pull the tape of the ATM and find that Burns knew that he was on camera and was trying to write a message for someone to see. Before he can make much sense, someone comes out of nowhere with a knife and grabs Burns. When the police zoom in on the attacker’s face, they see that it’s Harley Romero who’s supposed to be dead.
The police can’t figure out the connection between Harley and the pizza story. The police talk to Burns’s editor again. He recognizes two names that Castle found in Burns’s notebook. They are character names from film noir movies. He links them to a heroin story that Burns chased that he couldn’t ever find the answer to. Drug dealers had used names of characters from film noir for their distribution. The editor then brings up an urban legend about Cavallo, a legendary drug lord. Burns believed that Cavallo was real, and he’s convinced that he is responsible for his daughter’s death. They think that the spread of the threat of Cavallo came just around that time that Harley was allegedly killed along with other drug dealers. So, Harley could actually be Cavallo.
The police try to enhance the ATM video to figure out what Burns was trying to write. Castle mimics what Burns was writing, and they figure out that it’s an address. They head to the location and find a heroin processing house.
Castle notices that Alexis has a scratch on her face. It turns out that she had another confrontation with her “friend” who cornered her in the bathroom. The girl accused Alexis of ruining her party and hacking into her Web site. When the girl scratched Alexis, Alexis punched her.
The heroin from the house seems to match a lot of drugs that are distributed in New York. However, there are no prints on anything in the building. Burns’s phone was found in the drain near the building. They find pictures on the phone from outside of the drug lab. They also see that Monica is in the pictures, so she’s somehow involved in the drug plot.
The police go to find Monica, but they hear a commotion in her house. The police break down the door, and Monica says that it was Cavallo who just tried to kill her. Monica says that she and Gordon used to date, but he was dating her to get close to Cavallo. Monica says that the drug labs needed a real estate agent to find them new properties. Monica said that she owed people money, and that’s how she got mixed up with the drug dealers. She says that Gordon came to her for help a few days ago, so that’s why they were supposed to meet.
Monica says that Harley is Cavallo’s right hand man. However, the police tell her that Harley is Cavallo. They ask Monica to help them figure out which pizza restaurant Harley is dealing drugs through. She doesn’t know, but she is able to give them a hint. She says that the film noir names are the names used to pick up the drug orders. This week’s names are from Burns’s favorite film, The Maltese Falcon.
Beckett and Castle head to the pizza joints. They used Humphrey Bogart’s character’s name, Sam Spade, to try to find the drugs. At the third restaurant, they get the drugs. The restaurant is the one owned by Sal. They bring Sal in for questioning. He tells them that he was having trouble at his restaurant, and Harley said that he would help him if he could use the restaurant for several months. Harley said that he needed to put something in Sal’s oven overnight a few days ago. Sal suspected that it could be a body, but he told Harley not to use his oven.
Beckett says that she’ll put in a good word for Sal with the District Attorney if he helps them to find Harley. Sal calls Harley to say that he’s out of the drug products. The police corner him at a pizza shop.
Castle still can’t figure out why Burns tossed his phone. They make one last realization just in time. It is actually Monica who is Cavallo. Monica moved to New York from Los Angeles in 2002. It seems that Monica stole someone’s identity, a heroin addict who was killed in Los Angeles. Monica has been using heroin money to buy real estate in New York to hide the business that she’s involved in.
Castle brings home a pizza to share with Alexis. She tells him that she and her friend sort of made up because her friend was just jealous of all the time that Alexis was spending with her boyfriend.