Formats available: ebook, hardcover, large print paperback, audiobook
Series: In Death, #39
Length: 390 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Date Released: September 9, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
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.
I love this series, and every time I read one, I get a different answer as to why.
For one thing, Dallas’ version of deadpan snarker makes me laugh every single time. She has all the gallows humor of a career police officer, combined with a nearly complete lack of reference to what other people think is normal.
There’s a running gag in Festive in Death that cliches and proverbs make zero sense when analyzed. Which is true in every single example that comes up. And every time Eve tries to parse one out, she sends Roarke down a verbal rabbithole that drags him completely off his original topic. They are absolutely marvelous together.
A lot of this particular story is about family. For Eve and Roarke, the Christmas season is all about the “family you make”. Or in their case, watching the families that each of them has made continue to blend together into a single, slightly crazy, whole.
Their crazy-in-a-good-way but slightly dysfunctional family is contrasted directly with the family of two of the suspects in this episode’s murder-of-the-week.
At first, Eve isn’t sure that they ARE suspects. What is certain is that they were victims of the recently deceased scumbag, and that the way that he victimized them gives them and their families strong motives for murdering him.
This case was a bit different in that no one is mourning the dead jerk. Even Dallas is slightly conflicted; she’s not sorry he’s dead, at least partially because it robs her of the opportunity to lock him up for a couple of decades.
Trey Ziegler was a personal trainer who did not stick to his day job. He also fucked his clients for money and favors, which makes him a prostitute. In Eve’s version of the future, Licensed Companion is a profession, and yes, notice the licensed. Unlicensed selling of sex for money is still illegal. But Ziegler went two better (or worse). He used date-rape drugs to remove his clients’ inhibitions, and then he blackmailed them for having seemingly given in.
As I said, dead scumbag leaving plenty of victims with motives behind him.
Two of the many women he screwed over were sisters, which creeps both of them out. But even more scummy, he was also blackmailing one sister’s jerkwad husband over keeping a mistress using his rich wife’s money.
The problem that Eve has to solve is not who had motive and opportunity, or even who benefits (dead blackmailer lets lots of people off the hook), but whose applecart did the guy most threaten to upset?
In the middle of dealing with, and sometimes running away from, the biggest Christmas party that Eve and Roarke have ever hosted, Eve worries away at solving the crime. The person she wants to be the murderer is scummy, but may not quite be scummy enough.
It’s only when the killer claims a second victim that Eve finally puts it all together.
Escape Rating B+: I pored through this one until late in the night. It was just plain fun to read, and there were lots of laugh out loud moments.
But what I enjoyed was watching Eve and Roarke’s family celebrate the holidays. Eve is starting to see this very mixed gang of cops and corporate types as their family, and it’s a revelation for her. Also, as unsocialized as she sometimes is, seeing her see and feel that there are some things you just suck up because, well, family was a lot of growth that happens without going back to the angst-factory.
Eve’s intense dislike of parties, socializing and being the center of attention does not count as angst. It usually counts as funny.
I love these people, not just Eve and Roarke but the entire gang. I can’t wait to find out how they’re doing after Christmas in Obsession in Death.