When one of her fellow cops dies of seemingly natural causes, Lt. Eve Dallas, is surprised that his granddaughter insists on meeting with her, claiming that her grandfather did not die of a heart attack, but was killed by occult means by an evil cult of Satan worshippers intent on getting back on Alice (the granddaughter). Eve is deeply pragmatic and does not believe in anything spiritual or occult. She believes Alice was drugged and manipulated, and sexually abused by said cultists, but refuses to contemplate anything supernatural. Shortly after, Alice turns up dead, and Officer Peabody, who'd been set to tail the girl, says that she ran into oncoming traffic after seeing a black cat.
Eve asked by her superior officer to investigate whether Frank had been involved in illegal drug trafficking, after it becomes clear that he had been witnessed purchasing something from Selina, the leader of the Satanist coven in a seedy club. Neither her superior, nor Eve, believe Frank was a dirty cop, but Eve is forbidden to tell anyone about her investigation, especially not Feeney, the cop who trained her, and who was Frank's old partner. During her investigation, Eve has to interview the self-styled sorceress Selina, who becomes very upset with her treatment, and Eve's obvious disdain for her. Soon after having questioned Selina, a corpse is left on the pavement outside her and Roarke's mansion, and the case takes on a much more personal note.
Ceremony in Death is different from several of the other Robb books in that the reader fairly early on is given an idea of who the murderer is. Eve is pretty sure she knows who the killer is, the problem is that she has to prove it. She also has to come to choose between her job and her friend, and deal with the ugly aftermath of Feeney discovering that she's been set to investigate his friend. While she completely disregards any belief in the occult or supernatural, she comes into contact with several witches, of both the dark and white persuasion, and discovers that while she is pragmatic and disbelieving, Roarke may have more spiritual beliefs.