Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair
M. S. Spencer
Cozy mystery/Romantic suspense
Who's littering the park with corpses?
State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?
Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.
Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.
Pizza & Crowbars
He found his way to the Dog Star Tavern. “Gimme a PBR, Junior.”
“Comin’ right up.”
He sat alone until the sun had finished its last goodbye with mostly a whimper. When he’d drained his fourth beer, Junior came over and swiped the bar with a grimy cloth. “Woman troubles?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s not in the script. Georgia says your cold feet are icing up. Soon, frostbite will set in. After that comes gangrene. Not to mention long lonely nights before the remains of a fire.”
“You been reading poetry again, Junior?” Shoot, did I just slur that last word?
“Still on that one book you gave me last year. A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals. Bit of a slog, but gives me nice word pictures to use on my customers. Still, you shoulda told me it wasn’t porn. I expected the girl to…you know…with the animals.” He snickered.
Simon slapped a bill on the bar. “I’m off.”
As he walked at a slight tilt down the alley to Second Street, he mulled over Junior’s words. They’re actually pretty good. Oh yeah, Georgia said them. Gloom settled on his head. Why are these people pushing me so hard? Even my own mother. I’m only thirty-five—plenty of time to settle down. I’ve got a Mack truck of wild oats to sow yet. He slowed, thinking of Ellie. It’d be awful nice to have eggs and bacon with her every morning though.
Busy with his thoughts, he didn’t hear the rustle behind him. “Ribault? Is that you?”
He swung around. Three men stood in the dark, taking up most of the space between the narrow walls. “Who’s there?”
One said to the other, “It’s him. The ranger who’s been badgering us.”
A voice with a thick Spanish accent said, “Perhaps a broken nose would make him think twice about his meddling.”
The third man spoke. “Come on, Julian. That’s not necessary.”
Simon recognized Kenny’s brittle voice. “Kenny? What are you doing back there?”
“I’m outta here.” The figure swirled and ran down the alley. The other two advanced on Simon. A light came on in an upstairs apartment, and he got a glimpse of their faces. MacGregor and Martí. Uh oh.
MacGregor spoke, his voice low and whiny. “Why are you dogging us, Ribault? You’re just a lame old park ranger. Go back to trapping raccoons and ticketing RVs.”
Martí’s tone was a little more threatening. “Our affairs are none of your business. We know nothing of these murders you’re investigating. Stop this persecution, and leave us alone.” He took a step closer.
Simon stood his ground. He looked up, but the light had gone out. Is the window open? If I call, will someone hear me?
MacGregor raised a fist. “Are you gonna back off or not, punk?”
Simon took another step back and stumbled over a brick. “I…uh…”
A rich mezzo-soprano rang out behind him. “As a matter of fact, if you don’t back off, he might press charges. This looks like assault to me. What do you think, Dad?”
“Georgia? Santa?” His friends came around either side of him. Santa carried a crowbar. Georgia carried a take-out pizza. Simon squared his shoulders. “MacGregor. Martí. I’d like you to meet my lawyer. And my bodyguard.”
The two men wheeled around and tore after Kenny.
The three left stared after them. Finally, Santa remarked, “Interesting.”
Georgia said, “Want some pizza?”
Why not? Simon said, “Sure. Just this once.”
As they left, Santa looked back. “Yes. Interesting. I think it’s time you brought in the big guns.”
“Debbie Daugherty and the Ladies’ Beer and Marching Society.”
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Amelia Island is one of the wonderful Sea Islands that stretch from South Carolina to Florida. It has a fascinating history—partly centered at Fort Clinch, where the hero and heroine are park rangers and part in the old town of Fernandina Beach, at one point or another occupied by eleven different entities. It also has beautiful beaches, where the reader can bask and read a funny, puzzling, romantic book like Flotsam & Jetsam.
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Librarian, anthropologist, research assistant, Congressional aide, speechwriter, nonprofit director—M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents and holds degrees in Anthropology, Middle East Studies, and Library Science. She has published fifteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. She has two children, an exuberant granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
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