Castle: Don’t Leave Town?

Last night’s episiode of Castle, Nanny McDead, was a convoluted journey through police procedure. Was it all proper? No. Did the inaccuracy prevent the show from delivering? Again, no. It was a fun ride.

But for the sake of our mystery writing minds lets look at what they got wrong, and right.

Warning – spoiler alert!

1) The medical examiner knew the cause of death, a brain injury/bleed, before the autopsy. And, she correctly identified a spermicide found on the victim, indicating that the dead girl had sex prior to her death. How could the doctor know these things? It would take a little more examination other than eyeballing something on a slide to know a spermicide was present.

Simon says: A little too much karaoke for him. The M.E. would have to dig a little deeper (literally) to come up with the diagnosis. The M.E. is a weak link in the show. Her character thus far has been totally unbelievable. What say you Jonathan Hayes?

2) Detective Beckett told a suspect not to leave town. Now, I see this a lot of this in TV and in books. Can the police legally prevent someone from leaving town? No, not without a court order. But, Detective Beckett was bluffing, and said so. Is it okay for her to lie to a suspect? Sure. Why not? Suspects lie to police, It’s a fair trade.

Simon says: Good job. Even Castle joined in later, telling another suspect to stay where he could be found.

3) Castle asked to use a suspect’s restroom so he could have a look around while Detective Beckett was questioning the potential murderer. Does that sort of thing really happen? Sure. All the time. It’s a great way to get an idea of the lay of the land, to see if anyone else is present in the home, and to spot potential evidence. Is it legal? Hmm…It depends on what the officer does with his findings. It would probably be a toss up in court. But it’s best to be safe than sorry. Even if it means losing that part of your evidence.

Simon says: Good job, Castle.

4) The suspect’s attorney rescues him from a police interrogation. Was he right? Without probable cause to arrest his client could the police still hold him? No. This was a proper move by the attorney. Once a suspect’s attorney arrives the questioning must stop unless the attorney permits it, and they never do.

Simon says: Good job. I think he rather liked this one.

5) Detective Beckett entered into a standoff with a knife-wielding murder suspect. Was her banter with the woman realistic? It sure was. Good scene.

Simon says: Another good job. Very believable. Unlike Paula Abdul’s bizarre comments.

6) Detective Beckett kicked away a knife dropped by the suspect, leaving it within possible reach of the known killer. Was this proper procedure? Under normal circumstances, no. Officers should retain control of all weapons, if possible. In this case, I think she did what she thought was best. Perhaps she should have slid it toward Castle, but who knows what he’d have done with it. Remember, Castle is not a law enforcement officer. He’s a writer, and we all know writers can’t be trusted with weapons.

Lee Child, Jim Born, and Zoe Sharp

(Photo from the files of author and cop extrordinaire, James O. Born)



14 replies
  1. pabrown
    pabrown says:

    I haven’t watched Castle yet. I don’t usually enjoy shows that feature writers. I guess cause they never even come close. I have been falling in love with Life and Life on Mars, back to back on Wednesday, followed by Cold Case. I don’t move very much on Wednesdays. LOL

  2. jenifer
    jenifer says:

    I was wondering as I watched the scene where the lawyer burst in to save the day – Would they have Mirandized him for that round of questioning? He wasn’t being held or charged as far as I could tell, which makes sense, since they only had evidence indicating he might have had sex with the victim, but had nothing more to link him to her murder.

  3. Bobby M
    Bobby M says:

    Thanks for the info today, Lee. And please be sure to thank Simon for me. His comments were invaluable.

    And I absolutely agree, writers with weapons can be a scary thing.

  4. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    You’re right, Dave. But we didn’t see if Miranda was waived. I didn’t get that impression. And, yes, the attorney did burst into the police interview room to save the day. But, this is a comedy/drama, so I gave them that one.

    Yep, take note, folks. What Dave says is correct. The decision to waive Miranda is the suspect’s. An attorney can’t stop him from talking if he wants to do so.

    By the way, Dave is teaching the Interview and Interrogation workshop at the Writers Police Academy next month. He’s the expert.

    Beckett sort of pushed the knife away from the immediate area. The suspect was sitting on a table in a laundry room – the kind used for folding clothes.

    (You’re going to give the impression that cops do that sort of thing in real life…).

  5. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Ref. #6 – again realizing that I did not see the show – Did Beckett kick the knife toward the known killer hoping the killer would pick it up and she could close the case then and there?

    Just kidding!

  6. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Here’a a puzzler, Lee. Reference item #4 – the attorney and the interrogation.

    I did not watch the show and am operating with a couple of assumptions in play, so I will ask – Was this at police headquarters or some other venue? How did the lawyer get into the interrogation room?

    What I’m getting at is this – we see on TV a lot where the lawyer bursts into the room and stops the interogation, but if the suspect has waived Miranda (agreed to answer questions without a lawyer), does the lawyer have a right to do this? Technically speaking, no, or perhaps I should say, the police do not have to let a lawyer into the area to stop the questioning.

    I’ve seen cases where a relative calls an attorney when the suspect is taken into custody, but if the suspect knowingly waives their right to silence, the police may continue.

    Now, from a practical standpoint, I can see all kinds of problems, and you can bet an attorney would claim violation of the suspect’s rights, but from a strictly legal standpoint, waiver of Miranda hinges on the decision of the suspect.

  7. Terry
    Terry says:

    Dang! I keep forgetting about this show. Monday is usually “The Closer” night, and now that they’re in reruns, I just skipped tv altogether.

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks, Dave. I liked the show again this week. However, The Big Bang Theory (8pm) had me laughing until I cried real tears. Monday night is my night for TV.

  9. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Great blog, Lee.

    You do a good job of the step by step analysis, and I love the “Simon says” angle.

    We can smile while we learn.

    Good job!

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