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The 39 Cupcakes (Movie Club Mysteries, #4)

Police Sergeant Reynolds sighed. “Of course he was murdered, Maggie. You’re in the vicinity.”

“A low blow,” I said indignantly. “Before today, I hadn’t found a dead body in six weeks. And this is just a head.”

Ex-cop-turned-P.I. Maggie Doyle is stuck chaperoning a group of bratty summer camp kids on an archaeological dig on Whisper Island. After a day of fart jokes, fidget spinners, and fistfights, Maggie's regretting volunteering—and then one of her feral charges unearths a skeleton.

At first, it looks like a cold case, but the situation takes a sinister turn when a member of the excavation team winds up dead. Maggie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery before more bodies stack up. With her police officer boyfriend on vacation, his nitwitted fellow officer Sergeant O’Shea is left to maintain law and order on the island. Can Maggie dodge the bumbling Sergeant, solve the case and escape these hellion children? 

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Whisper Island, Ireland

Professor Forbisher’s face underwent a serious of spasmodic movements. “Impossible,” he spluttered. “It can't be murder. Not on my dig.”

Ellen Taylor exchanged an exasperated glance with me. “I took a postgrad course in forensic archaeology. I might not practice as a forensic archaeologist, but I know what I’m looking at. We have no choice, Dean. We have to call the police.”

Her boss ran a hand through his wild gray curls. “They’ll close down the dig. All our work—”

I let Ellen deal with his tirade and hit speed dial. Before the call connected, Susie and Alan appeared at the edge of the pit. Susie’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh my goodness.”

Alan swayed from side to side. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

I wasn’t in the mood to play nursemaid. “Puke somewhere else. Forensics will want as little touched as possible.”

The grad student’s eyes rolled back in his head, and he pitched forward into the pit. Ellen and I scrambled to break his fall and prevent him from landing on the skull, but the his weight knocked us sideways. I landed with thud and found myself face to skull with Tommy’s gruesome discovery. In the tumult, I dropped my phone. Naturally, my boyfriend chose that moment to answer.

The green button glowed on my phone, but I hadn’t hit speaker, and I couldn’t hear what he was saying. Alan moaned on top of me. For heaven’s sake. I pushed the Ph.D. student off me and rolled him as far from the skull as I could manage. Once I was sure he wouldn’t suffocate in the dirt—I was nice that way—I groped for the phone.

“Hey, Liam,” I said in a breathless voice.

“Uh, hi. What’s going on, Maggie? What’s with all the groaning in the background?”

“Some dude named Alan. He’s fine. I shoved him into the recovery position.”

Reynolds made a choking sound on the other end of the line that might have been laughter.

“Listen, I need you to get to the excavation site on St. Finbar’s Hill as soon as you can. And call forensics.”

“I thought you said Alan was fine,” Reynolds said in confusion.

“Forensics isn’t meant for him.”

“Oh, no,” he groaned. “Please tell me you’re pulling my leg. Today is my last day of work before my daughter arrives.”

“No joke, I’m afraid. The good news is that I didn’t find a dead body.”

“That’s great,” he said gloomily. “Now hit me with the bad.”

“Tommy Greer dug up a skull on the excavation site.”

“And you don’t think it’s from an ancient burial?”

“Not unless the skull’s owner was a time traveler. He had a retainer on his lower teeth. And from the size and shape of the hole in his forehead, I doubt we’re talking an accidental death.”

Liam sighed. “Of course he was murdered. You’re in the vicinity.”

“A low blow. Before today, I hadn’t found a dead body in six weeks. And this is just a head.”

In the background, Alan let out a yowl. With eyes filled with terror, he held up a skeletal hand and threw it in my direction. It landed in my lap. Seriously, this day…

“Well,” I conceded, “we have a head and a hand.”

“That’s…not reassuring,” Liam said dryly. “Okay, give me thirty minutes, and I’ll be with you. I have no idea how long it’ll take forensics to get to Whisper Island. I’ll call them right away.”

From The 39 Cupcakes by Zara Keane, Copyright 2017