Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo when a man with a knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word - "murder" - before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia's name and room number.
When Arly's mother, the indomitable Ruby Bee Hanks, is invited to a baking contest in New York, Arly is forced to return to the city she hates - and the Big Apple is even more rotten than she remembered. Ruby Bee has hardly preheated her oven when a naked man is found shot in her bedroom and the NYPD throws her in jail. As tempting as it may be to let her mother rot on Rikers Island, Arly has no choice but to solve the case herself, facing down killers, bakers, and the most dangerous villain of all: her ex-husband.
When a Hollywood production company chooses Maggody as a backdrop for an X-rated Ozarks Romeo and Juliet, the locals are starstruck. And as Maggody is flooded with washed-up actors, ruthless producers, and a cynical crew, the townsfolk will do anything for a close-up - even if it means resorting to murder. Chief of Police Arly Hanks has no time for Hollywood - she's got her hands full with a local arsonist - but when one of the actors is found dead in a bathtub, she's forced to intervene.
When Mayor Jim Bob Buchanon's SuperSaver Buy 4 Less takes out a full-page ad boasting the new supermarket's authentic tamales, gourmet deli counter, and various other bells and whistles, every restaurateur in town fears that Jim Bob is going to put him out of business. So when it comes time for the Buy 4 Less's gala opening, one citizen decides to play dirty, slipping something into Jim Bob's famous tamale sauce that leaves 23 unsuspecting attendees sick with food poisoning - and one dead.
Maggody Police Chief Arly Hanks is all shook up when she hears that her mother collapsed during a pilgrimage to Graceland and is in a Memphis hospital. Another member of the tour is pushed to her death from a hotel balcony. A prominent Maggody citizen stands accused of the murder. Arly's suspicious mind tells her to snap into action--it's now or never--before the touring residents of Maggody are returned to sender ... in a hearse.
Maggody's high school has a new computer lab. Folks are calling the internet the Devil's workshop, but the adult computer class is filling up. Soon friends are exchanging E-mail, and the preacher is posting sermon notes. But when some mighty unusual images flash across monitors--and a pretty computer student is found dead in an abandoned shack--the town demands Arly find the answers.