One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all Brass had on him. He laid a credit card on the bar counter and wished it luck. It only had to bear the price of a couple of rounds, but his salary and his expenses were not on speaking terms lately. It was Christmas in Las Vegas. Every year, it set him back until April. Which was tax time. Which set him back until Christmas. There was a comforting rhythm to it. ‘They have some good single malts,’ Catherine said, and ordered a beer. That was one of the things Brass liked about her. She had class, but didn’t make a man pay for it.
Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows, Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation senior supervisor. Catherine is the glamorous commander of a crack team of forensic criminologists It was 4:30am on Christmas Eve, meaning it was Christmas morning to anybody who had got some sleep in the interim, and crime scene investigators Catherine Willows and Nick Stokes had just finished dropping off bodies and registering the evidence they’d gathered at a messy murder scene. The fatal string of Christmas lights was wound around the female victim’s neck so many times the coroner was going to have to cut it from the corpse. The second victim was her husband; they assumed he was the one that did the strangling. With the steak knife in his neck, he’d only had just enough blood in him to finish the job. ‘The weird part,’ Nick remarked, leaning on the bar with his heavy forearms, ‘is the lights around her neck were still on when we got there.’ ‘It lent a certain festive air to the scene,’ Brass replied. Brass’s understudy for the evening, a young detective by the name of Ottman, known as ‘The Otter’ among the wittier senior staff, sat uncomfortably between Catherine and Brass. He looked ill. He hadn’t worked many murder scenes before, and this one wasn’t just bloody, it was ironic. Irony always made things worse. The knife was part of a gift set intended for the dead man. It had his monogram burned into the handle. For the veteran CSI team, it was just another couple of dead people, another raft of evidence and paperwork. Ottman cleared his throat before he spoke, a habit that irritated Brass. ‘There’s nothing festive about people killing each other on Christmas Eve,’ he objected. ‘He doesn’t mean it,’ Catherine said. ‘It’s awful. Every murder is awful. But if we mourn the dead every time we find them . . . ‘ ‘Some do,’ Brass interrupted. ‘They don’t last in the job.’ He fixed his melancholy eyes on Ottman and waited for the message to sink in. Before he could be sure it had, the drinks arrived. Beer all round except Ottman, who opted for one of those Tiger Woods non-alcoholic things that used to be an Arnold Palmer. The kid didn’t even know how to drink. Catherine decanted her beer into a glass. Nick picked at the label on his.
George Eads as Nick Stokes. Formerly Catherine’s deputy, he has just been promoted to be her co-supervisor. Occasionally over-emotional. ‘Lot of murders this time of year,’ Nick said, in much the way he might observe it was a chilly night. Ottman cleared his throat. ‘People always get crazy around the holidays?’ he asked nobody in particular. ‘If you’re going to kill somebody, the season of joy is a popular time. Statistically speaking,’ Catherine replied. She checked her watch. Coming to the bar had been her idea: it was too late to go home and get in bed. She’d wake her daughter Lindsay up, and now that she was 18, Lindsay didn’t like early rising at Christmas. So Catherine was pretending it was the previous night, rather than the following morning. Nick had proposed they get coffee and breakfast, but he lived alone and his family was in Texas. He could lounge around all day. Catherine had a full schedule of family events, and breakfast at home was one of them. Brass glanced over at Ottman. The guy wasn’t cut out for this work. He was a fairly good detective. Book smart, but not great at murders. He would be best at property crime, hustles,...
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