Mrs. Spinney’s Secret by @msspencerauthor is a Best Books of '21 pick #romanticsuspense #bestbooks
Mrs. Spinney’s Secret
M. S. Spencer
Cozy mystery/Romantic suspense
What do you do when Hollywood takes over your tiny Maine village to make a movie?
Cassidy Beauvoir, chair of the board of overseers of Amity Landing, is ready to throw the bums out; that is, until she meets Jasper MacEwan, the director of American Waterloo: the Rout of the Penobscot Expedition. It’s instant attraction until a series of deadly incidents threatens their budding romance. Are the attacks directed at the movie crew or the townspeople?
As the two search for answers, the trail leads them to long-held secrets of the worst naval defeat of the American Revolution—including betrayal, murder, and a lost hoard of English gold.
Excerpt: Bad Lobsters
As she pulled her keys out, Cassidy knocked a knee on the bumper. “Those three beers are making me feel a little woozy.”
“Good thing I only had one. Why don’t I drive?”
“Thanks.” She examined his profile. “I wouldn’t mind skipping the fireworks either. You?”
“S’okay. I’m a little bushed too.” He blinked at her.
Sally flagged them down. “The grips are going to some biker bar. I’ve had enough.”
Jasper guffawed. “No wonder. I can’t believe you ate that entire lobster. You’ve got to be bursting.”
“At least I didn’t poop out halfway through. Who knows when I’ll get another Maine lobster? You guys going my way?”
“Are you staying at the Harbor Inn with the others?”
“No, I got myself a room in a B&B on Route 1 the other side of Penhallow.”
“No problem. Hop in.”
As they crossed the bridge, Sally rolled down her window and hung her head out. “Is it just me or is it even hotter than it was at the lobster place?”
Cassidy looked over at Jasper in the driver’s seat. Beads of sweat pilled on his forehead. She noticed his shirt was damp. “Are you all right?”
She turned to the back seat. “Sally?” In response, Sally slowly fell over in a dead faint. Jasper grabbed Cassidy’s hand. His was shaking. “I don’t feel so good.” He pulled over onto the verge under the overpass and rolled himself out of the car. He lay panting for a minute before climbing to his knees. “You’d better take the wheel.”
“Okay.” They traded places. By the time Cassidy had put the car in gear, he was out cold too. “Oh my God, Jasper!” He didn’t respond. She looked over her shoulder at Sally. Her face was stark white, and her mouth was slack.
She wished now she were driving the car that clocked a hundred and ten miles per hour instead of her four-cylinder Subaru. Too many minutes later, she pulled up in front of the emergency entrance of Waldo Memorial Hospital, wheels screeching and steam rising from her hood. An orderly rushed out with a wheel chair. “I need two!” she shouted.
The orderly signaled through the glass door and a nurse came out with a second one. They wrangled the two unconscious bodies into the chairs. As she pushed Jasper into the ER, the nurse asked Cassidy, “Car wreck?”
“No, Peggy. I don’t know what happened. One minute they were fine, the next they both keeled over.”
A doctor came in. “Car wreck?”
“Hi, Dr. Wilberforce. No. Sudden illness.”
“Any signs before they fainted?”
Cassidy tried to think, but her mind raged with worry. “I…uh…wait—they both said it was hot. Jasper was perspiring.” She didn’t have to add that it was a cool evening. “Sally was clutching her stomach.”
The doctor bellowed some orders and said crisply, “Wait here.”
Cassidy didn’t know how much time had gone by, but the pale light coming through the windows of the waiting room had begun to show some pink when the doctor came in. “You still here? I thought I asked June to tell you to go home.”
She roused herself. “June did.”
“Oh. Well, we’ve got the results back from the lab. As I suspected, it was food poisoning.”
“Food poisoning? From what?”
“You went to Childe’s for the Fourth, right? I’m guessing your friends ate bad lobsters.”
“There are no bad lobsters.”
“Yes, we’re all agreed that lobsters are delicious. What not everyone knows is that once they’re dead, the bacteria that occur naturally in their flesh rapidly multiply and turn toxic. Ingestion results in severe gastrointestinal distress and sometimes death.”
“Even if they’re boiled?”
Dr. Wilberforce hesitated, then, his eyes grim, replied, “If the dead lobster is left out for twenty-four hours, the toxins cannot be destroyed by cooking.”
Cassidy was at a loss. “But we all had the lobsters at Childe’s last night. I’m not sick.”
“You each had your own lobster, right?”
“Yes. Oh, I see.”
The doctor put a hand on Cassidy’s arm. “You should get in touch with the others in your party. And with Childe’s.”
She rubbed her eyes. “Will do. How are the patients?”
The doctor heaved a heavy sigh. “One didn’t make it I’m afraid. We did what we could.”
Cassidy froze. She opened her mouth and closed it. Her eyes asked the question. He answered it. “The woman—Sally Crook—died. The man—Jasper MacEwan, right?—he’ll be okay. We pumped his stomach. He’s uncomfortable but awake. Would you like to see him?”
She didn’t waste time answering.
The nurse pulled aside the curtain for her. “Jasper?” He groaned. Without warning, her tears began to fall. She hadn’t known how frightened she was until she saw him, mouth distorted like the man in Edvard Munch’s The Scream, curled up in a fetal position, and holding his stomach. She picked up his limp hand. “Jasper? Can you hear me?”
He muttered something. She put her ear next to his mouth. “What?”
“California lobsters are better.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Well, it’s a lot of fun, for starters. Hollywood descending on your town with all the glamor and celebrities should be cool, right? But when people associated with the movie start turning up dead it can be concerning. Mrs. Spinney’s Secretis a mystery with lots of twists and turns, humor, and great romance. Perfect to curl up with in your jammies beside the Christmas tree.
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Runs December 28 – January 4, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on January 5, 2022.
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 fourteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. Releasing in 2022 is Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine. 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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