Men, Sima thought, can’t live with them, can’t beat them to death with a nine iron. – Festive in Death[1]

Plot SummaryEdit

Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn’t count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who’d been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler’s enemies, she’s also dealing with her Christmas shopping list—plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband’s upcoming holiday bash.

Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year’s 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer. 


Please reference the Festive in Death Map for locations or approximate locations of sites listed here.


A banner hung over the break-room door, facing out so any who came in would see the sentiment: NO MATTER YOUR RACE, CREED, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR POLITICAL AFFILIATION, WE PROTECT AND SERVE, BECAUSE YOU COULD GET DEAD.
Festive in Death[2]

Story Dates: December 20-24, 2060 (see YANNI about incorrect calendar)

Day 1 (Thursday, December 20)Edit

  • Sima is drunk and vowing revenge on her cheating ex-boyfriend Trey Ziegler. With a friend along "for moral support" she accesses the apartment he'd thrown her out of... and finds him dead on the bed with a kitchen knife in his chest and a note from Santa that he'd been a bad boy.
  • At 2 am, "two in the freaking morning in the frozen bowels of December," Lieutenant Eve Dallas stomps in.
    • Trina had called her, because she was the drunken friend/coworker with Sima.
    • Trina explains that Trey had booted Sima out (even though Sima had already paid December's rent) so Sima is crashing with Trina, and after some tequila they had decided to pay Trey back with practical jokes like itching powder in his facial cream. Only he's dead.
    • Trey was a massage therapist and personal trainer at a fitness center called Buff Bodies. He had been "acting weird": secretive, at the gym alone after hours, talk of his own high-end spa.
  • Dallas already knows Sima and Trina didn't kill him, so she starts processing the scene. Peabody arrives, as do the crime scene sweepers and uniforms to canvass the area.
  • At dawn, they head to Buff Bodies.
    • The manager, Lill Byers, and coworkers add to Trey's portrait.
    • He was a charming vain player, who supported his expensive habits by sponging off older women while sexing up younger women (often several at a time). Frequent descriptions are "arrogant, sneaky, ambitious, and asshole".
    • His locker had been outfitted with double locks "both reprogrammed to block master access" – put on about 6 weeks ago – so Dallas calls in Nab from EDD. On past the "bank-vault quality" security, they find stacks of cash: $165,000 in all.
  • Back at Central, the squad room is decorated with "a tatty and tawdry length of silver garland," "an even tattier sign announcing "HAPPY HOLIDAYS"", and a "pitiful, spindly fake tree" decorated with ID pictures.
  • Roarke reminds Dallas that she has only two days to shop before their big holiday party. She claims she has started shopping. Sort of.
  • Peabody is working Trey's financials, which come up clean. McNab is going over his electronics. Dallas sets up the murder board. "So who had he blackmailed, extorted, scammed?"
  • Dallas and Peabody interview Alla, Trey's ex before Sima. She had seen him, and slept with him, the afternoon he died but he was alive when she left at about 3 pm.
  • At the morgue, Morris has details on the homicide and works up a holo recreation.
  • They split up Trey's client list and work through it. Some of the clients also slept with him.
    • Dallas determines that Trey sometimes offered a special (expensive) after-hours massage session to a client, drugged her with doctored herbal tea and special incense, and had sex with her.
  • Tiko helps Dallas choose gifts for her friends. She then barters with Summerset: he will wrap the gifts if she "participates" in the preparations for their party, day after next.
  • Dallas goes home for a quick nap, sex, and supper. Then she works on her notes, a report, a chart of Trey's clients/suspects, and more angles.

Day 2 (Friday, December 21)Edit

  • When Eve wakes up, Roarke tells her about a few changes to An Didean, a youth shelter in a rehabbed building where 12 bodies had been found earlier in December (as told in Concealed in Death).
  • Dallas re-questions Lill at Buff Bodies and gets names of other competitors for the trainer of the year award that was used to kill him. She interviews one at Buff Bodies.
  • She and Peabody swing by Trey's apartment and bag the tea and incense cones for analysis.
  • At Trina's salon, they get the names of clients on whom Trey might have used sex-drug-laced tea as a "persuader" to have sex with him. Sima realizes that he used it on her, too.
  • At the lab, Birenski determines that the tea contains compounds to relax the victim, lower her inhibitions, make her compliant, and increase her sex drive: it's a low-grade date-rape drug.
  • Peabody goes to interview women on Trina's list, to ask about tea and who gave him money and why – some gave him money before sex (as an unlicensed LC) and some gave him money after (extortion, to keep him quiet).
  • Mira adds her input about Trey, the murder, and the perpetrator.
  • They continue to interview women on Trina's list.
    • "We've got an asshole, fuckhead, serial date rapist as a vic, Peabody. We're going to feel sorry for pretty much all the suspects."
  • They interview another competitor, at his own gym, but Eve puts him low on the suspect list.
  • They go back to reinterview one of Trey's clients, Natasha Quigley. Her sister Martella said she had tea-induced sex with Trey, but Eve feels that Natasha was lying when she denied involvement. She finally admits to hiring Trey for multiple intimate meetings at a hotel.
  • When interviewed, Natasha's husband JJ Copley also lies about something with Trey, so they are going to dig for information and reinterview him.
  • The holiday decorations in the squad-room now include a dented menorah and a zombie Santa.
  • Dallas goes to reinterview Martella, and also talks to her husband Lance Schubert and social secretary Catiana.
  • When she gets home, Summerset tells her tomorrow's schedule.
  • Over dinner, Dallas and Roarke talk over the case. Then she studies her data while Roarke goes over JJ's financials.
    • Roarke finds that JJ has been skimming money from his wife and job, to feed two secret bank accounts and pay for "a love nest".

Day 3 (Saturday, December 22)Edit

  • After a dream and sex, Eve leaves to work for a few hours.
    • She tracks down the JJ Copley's mistress. Felicity is a beautiful, gullible young woman from Indiana.
  • Party preparation is in full swing at the mansion when she returns. After a minute to gape and be appalled, she writes an updated report using the comp in the garage.
  • She then wades into the chaos of party decoration.
  • She ducks out of preparation to work for a few minutes. A report from Mira adds her input on Trey and on JJ Copley as a suspect. Ditto a report from Peabody, which shows that Copley and Quigley had long-standing problems, before and after marriage.
  • Eve and Roarke exchange one early gift each. (They had both gone, unbeknownst to the other, to the family-run jeweler from Thankless in Death.)
  • When Mavis arrives, Eve sics her on the caterers for a few minutes but "Because it was Christmas, she opted for mercy, and pulled Mavis away."
  • Eve tactlessly but effectively reminds Trina that she and Sima weren't at fault in Trey's death, then Eve and Mavis are buffed to "ultramazing" by Trina.
  • Party!
    • Eve pulls her friends aside as she can to give them gifts. Peabody gets a magic coat in pink.
    • She also gets Charles's professional opinions on Trey's business as an unlicensed LC and rapist/blackmailer, and his being stabbed through the heart.
    • Dancing and drinking and fraternizing and finally shed the torture shoes and collapse into bed.

Day 4 (Sunday, December 23)Edit

  • Eve has a morning swim then shares a full Irish breakfast with Roarke plus Peabody and McNab (who had spent the night).
  • They buckle down to work. JJ Copley heads the suspect list, followed by his wife Natasha Quigley, and her sister Martella Schubert. They split up the suspects for reinterview.
  • Dallas and Roarke go to interview JJ and Natasha. "They're both cheaters."
    • JJ is in Florida with Martella's husband, playing golf.
    • Natasha sticks with her "business transaction" story for Trey. She knows about JJ's mistress Felicity, but thinks he had ended it.
  • Peabody reports in their interviews. Martella was cooperative and upset; secretary Catiana was calm and helpful; husband was in Florida.
  • Dallas reworks her reports and murder board.
  • Eve and Roarke drink wine and watch an action vid with many explosions.
  • Dispatch calls in the early evening: one dead and one injured at the Copley-Quigley address.
    • The social secretary, Catiana, is dead. Onsite COD is hitting her head on the fireplace hearth. The body, which has been moved, lies amidst blood and detritus from a fight but shows no signs of fight trauma.
    • Natasha Quigley, unconscious, has been removed to the hospital. Dallas posits a head wound from a cracked crystal vase, lying across the room. The scene "is shaky."
    • A truculent JJ Copley is in an adjacent room. The short emergency call recording implicates him. After a brief interview, he is arrested and taken out, "raging".
    • Both house droids were shut down but McNab gets the outside security camera footage. It shows Catiana say something about "I remembered" and being upset, then she goes inside.
  • Natasha is still in surgery, so Peabody goes to do the family notification for Catiana and Dallas goes to Interview B for JJ Copley.
  • Dallas gets nothing from JJ Copley except insults and "increasingly hysterical rants", until he collapses in a severe anger-induced anxiety attack. However, there's a problem with the Copley-as-murderer scenario: Mira points out that his reaction to extreme stress is anxiety attack, but Trey's murderer didn't panic.
  • Dallas informs Martella and her husband about Catiana's murder. They are devastated. Catiana and Natasha are good friends, and in fact Catiana was helping to set up Natasha's holiday party when Trey was killed, but they don't know why she went to the Quigley/Copley house today, although Martella remembers that she had become suddenly distracted this afternoon.
  • At the morgue, Morris believes Catiana was shoved from behind and fell into the hearth.
  • Back at home, Eve updates her reports and murder board, then lines up work for tomorrow. "She had Copley. She had him cold, but it all just nagged at her."

Day 5 (Monday, Christmas Eve, December 24)Edit

  • Dallas picks up Peabody at her apartment and they have a short interview at the hospital with Natasha Quigley. She says she can't remember the attack but Dallas can tell she's lying and is puzzled.
  • The ratty bullpen decorations have expanded to include Kwanza. Jenkinson explains: "We're all-inclusive in Homicide, 'cause whatever your race, color, or creed, you can get dead."
  • Catiana's boyfriend has come in, and Dallas talks to him.
  • Dallas and Reo talk about Copley's charges.
  • Dallas and Peabody get JJ Copley into an interview room again.
    • He keeps adding details to his story.
    • Dallas checks, and Felicity is safe. She had become suspicious, gone to his house, realized his lies, and gone home to Indiana.
    • Copley yells that he had no reason to kill Trey over blackmail: he himself had paid Trey to have an affair with Natasha (knowing Trey used the date-rape drugs if necessary), so Copley could get a good divorce settlement and use the money to marry the adoring and naïve Felicity.
  • It's late on Christmas Eve, and Eve goes home.
  • Roarke and Summerset are reminiscing about past Christmasses, then Eve and Roarke exchange gifts.
  • Something in their byplay sparks Dallas's memory. She goes to Central and asks JJ Copley a question: when did he see his wife on the night of their holiday party? Upshot: JJ is "a complete dick" "but he's not a murderer."
  • At the hospital, Martella and her husband have set up a little Christmas Eve cheer in Natasha's room. Dallas tells Natasha about JJ's arrangement with Trey, and that she had been duped just like everyone else.
    • Then the truth comes out, just as Dallas had finally figured: Natasha was falling in love with Trey, she snuck out to see him before her party, she saw the evidence that he'd been with another woman, she accused him of cheating, he laughed at her and sneered, and she killed him with the trophy. Natasha's alibi was preparing for their party, but she actually cancelled her face and hair appointments (to go see Trey) and Catiana couldn't locate her during the time that Trey was killed. Since Catiana was Natasha's alibi, she had to die when she remembered her absence and went over to ask her friend Natasha about the discrepancy. Both killings were "violent impulse" but Natasha Quigley had killed them and tried to set up her husband to look guilty for Catiana.
    • Natasha claims she had a breakdown, but Dallas tells her "You're going to learn the difference between legally sane and just being a cold, vicious, selfish bitch." Dallas puts Natasha under hospital arrest.
  • Dallas plans to release JJ Copley then go home for Christmas with Roarke.

Memorable QuotesEdit

Page 5:

  • Detective Peabody came to the bedroom door. Pink cowboy boots, big puffy coat, a couple miles of rainbow-striped scarf and a bright blue hat with earflaps.
  • She looked, Eve thought, like an Eskimo running away to the circus. [3]

Page 10:

  • McNab: “Guess he died fit. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Eat rabbit food, sweat daily, die anyhow.” [4]

Page 20:

  • “He’s our dead guy,” Peabody said, “but I really hate when they’re fuckheads.”
  • [Eve:] “Being a fuckhead’s a good reason to punch somebody in the face, not to cave in their skull.”
  • [Peabody:] “Still, I wish he’d been a nice guy. On the other hand, then he’d be a dead nice guy, and you’d have to feel bad. So maybe being a fuckhead’s better.”[5]

Page 24:

  • [Dallas:] “Secrets plus greed generally equals a slab for somebody.”
  • [Roarke:] “Cop math.”[6]

Page 106:

  • [Eve:] ”We’ve got an asshole, fuckhead, serial date rapist as a vic, Peabody. We’re going to feel sorry for pretty much all the suspects.”[7]

Page 199:

  • Eve wouldn’t say she enjoyed a couple of hours ordering around decorators and florists and the people who—apparently—feared them. But she couldn’t deny a certain satisfaction in it. And a deeper satisfaction from making sure everyone involved feared her more.[8]

Page 216:

  • “You look good.” Trina began packing up her tools. “My work always looks good.... Your man’s going to look strip-me-naked good ’cause he was born that way. You need to look good.”
  • [Eve:] “I don’t want people to strip naked when they look at me.”
  • On a bray of laughter, Trina continued to pack up. “They’re going to look at you and think: That’s one frosty bitch cop. Maybe you were born the bitch cop, I added the frosty. It’s what I do.”[9]

Page 303:

  • Peabody: “I love my coat. Love, love my pink magic coat. It makes me feel pretty. Sexy and strong and styling. Therefore I strut.”[10]

Page 1535:

  • Jenkinson: “We’re all-inclusive in Homicide, ’cause whatever your race, color, or creed, you can get dead.”[11]

Page 1567:

  • [Suspect to Peabody:] “Just shut your mouth, you ignorant twat.”
  • [Peabody:] “Aw, Dallas, he called me a twat. How come you get to be a bitch, but I only get to be a twat.”
  • “It’s the rank,” Eve told her. “You’ll make bitch one day.”
  • [Peabody:] “Thanks. That means a lot to me.”[12]

Character ListEdit

List of Main Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

List of Secondary Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

List of Recurring Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

List of Minor Characters Appearing in this BookEdit


  • The fictional calendar is too long by three days.
    • In real 2060, winter solstice is Monday, December 20, and Christmas is Saturday, December 25.
    • In fictional 2060, Dallas catches the case just after the solstice,[13] work Thursday and Friday, have the big party on Saturday,[14] and then Tuesday will be Christmas.[15]

Trivia Edit

Other Covers Edit

Additional covers here


Other ReleasesEdit

Footnotes Edit

  1. Festive in Death (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 1.
  2. Festive in Death (ISBN 978-1-101-61727-4), p. 1592-1593.
  3. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 5.
  4. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 10.
  5. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 20.
  6. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 24.
  7. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 106.
  8. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 199.
  9. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 216.
  10. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 303.
  11. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-1-101-61727-4), p. 1535-1536.
  12. ‘’Festive in Death’’ (ISBN 978-1-101-61727-4), p. 1567-1568.
  13. Peabody says, "We just passed the solstice, so the days are starting to get longer." Festive in Death (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 130.
  14. Roarke: "I'm sleeping with my wife on a Saturday morning." Festive in Death (ISBN 978-0515154156), p. 164.
  15. On Sunday (day after their party), Eve says "If we don't tie it up tomorrow…" to which Roarke responds "Christmas Eve." Festive in Death (ISBN 978-1-101-61727-4), p. 1280.


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