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Nelson & MacIlwraith
Moon Murder Mysteries

Moon Murder Mystery #1
Chapter 1 excerpt

    “A couple of witches have gone missing,” Deputy Director Felton barked from behind his desk. He didn’t look up from his newspaper as he held out two manila folders. Nelson blinked and waited for an explanation but the haggard older man continued to glare at the crossword puzzle. He ignored Nelson as his pen tapped next to what appeared to be a particularly vexing clue. Nelson usually preferred to go unnoticed but he was exhausted and felt like he was stretched too thin—transparent—lately. He felt bare like the walls behind him and Nelson wondered if he’d finally achieved invisibility.

1. Triangle containing 15 spheres.

    Nelson glanced at the corresponding squares on the page and saw the green felted top of a pool table before he frowned at the folders.


    “Are you waiting for me to ask nicely?” Felton muttered at the puzzle, doing his best to pretend Nelson didn’t exist.


    “I wasn’t aware that magical mysteries were within the bureau’s purview,” Nelson replied warily. Felton made a loud, irritated sound as he tossed the pen at the paper. There was a loud Clap! when he slapped the files on the desktop and pushed them at Nelson.


    “The FBI doesn’t give a fuck about a couple of rich girls who skipped into the woods to look for crystals or mushrooms. They’re probably getting banged by a yoga instructor or at some coven orgy but I want you to look into it.”


    Nelson flipped open the first file and scanned it, immediately recognizing Sharon Cleary’s name. Cleary was a respected correspondent who generally covered international politics. She didn’t strike Nelson as an irrational person or someone who’d overreact without good cause. Her daughter, Mila, had gone missing three days ago on the eve of her birthday, and based on her employment and academic history, Nelson wasn’t seeing a nuisance case. His gut was already screaming that this girl was in danger and he’d barely opened the file. “I beg your pardon, sir, but…this doesn’t look like a hoax or a nuisance.”


    “Look at me, Nelson.” A gnarled and bent finger pointed, the yellow nail shaking as Felton snarled at Nelson. “The next thing I wanna hear about this Cleary case is that it’s closed. Go over there with Dr. Van Halfass and shut it down. You got it?”


    “Dr. Van Half—?”


    “MacIlwraith. He’s got Cleary worked up over some crackpot theory. Get over to Georgetown and shut it down. Got it?”


    “Got it,” Nelson said flatly. “Why me, though?” He knew Felton wouldn’t let him near a case with any real potential and there were lazier agents who specialized in closing cases without doing any legwork. These were two possible abductions with an obvious link, even if they were… Witches? Nelson had his answer when Felton dragged a hand down his face and sighed wearily.


    “There’s no case—I’ve been assured that it’s a waste of fucking time—but we’ve got a consultant who won’t shut up and he’s got Mommy convinced there’s more. It’ll turn into a circus the minute she starts running her mouth and the rest of the media gets a hold of this. You’re going because no one wants to work with you and everything you touch turns to shit.” 


    “I see.” Nelson swiped the files off the desk and snorted when he read the attached Post-It note.


   Get Cleary and MacIlwraith to shut up about this ASAP.

    MacIlwraith, though… 


    “Report to the sketchy professor and run this witch thing to the ground. Keep him quiet and try not to piss him off. I can’t stand the freaky little shit but he’s connected and he’s had his uses.”


    “Report to MacIlwraith and run it to the ground.” Nelson had resigned himself to a slow, agonizing death within the bureau but being assigned as an errand boy for Felton’s other problem child was humiliating. He was already the most hated agent in the FBI. Now, he’d be a laughingstock. “Why don’t you just go ahead and—”


    “And what, Nelson? I would have canned your ass after Baltimore if your father wasn’t one of the best agents I’ve ever known. You’re a disgrace but too many people respect his memory to do anything about it so I’m stuck with you.” He tossed his hand at the door and threw Nelson a sneer to go along with it. “Get out of here and see if you can find a way to shit this one down your leg too. Not that anyone’s going to care if some sorority girls got lost on their way to Burning Man.”


    “I’ll see what I can do, sir.”.

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