Mrs. Spinney’s Secret by @msspencerauthor is a Celebrate Fathers pick #cozymystery #cozy #fathersday
Title: Mrs. Spinney’s Secret
Author: M. S. Spencer
Genre: 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.
Philip MacEwan is the hero’s father, a stern, severe man with—it turns out—a very soft spot for his son. I include two short excerpts as illustration.
Excerpt 1: Hollywood Comes to Amity Landing
Chick stood on his front stoop, nose in the air and jaws grinding like a furious baby hippo. Sissy had stepped down to the street and was talking to three men in identical black suits. Cassidy looked them over. The Men in Black? Feds? Gumshoes? Thank God Chick had sent out the attack team: Sissy—maybe five feet tall, close-cropped red hair, and a nose like a tater tot. At her side yipped Thor, a tiny, nasty terrier, known in Amity as the Scourge of Maine. She approached warily from behind. “Sissy? What’s going on?”
The little woman forgot to alter her expression when she whirled around, and Cassidy caught the full force of classic Mainer distrust. The grimace dissipated at the sight of her. “Oh, Cassidy, I didn’t know you were there.” She jerked her head at the three men and whispered loudly, “Weirdos.”
Cassidy wondered if she knew—or cared—that they could hear her. Up close, each was quite different from the other. One—tall, aristocratic, and tanned—stood a little apart. The other two resembled no one so much as Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. Laurel scratched under his collar, and Hardy patted his bald head nervously. She held out a hand to the tall one. “How do you do? I’m Cassidy Jane Beauvoir, chairman of the Board of Overseers for Amity Landing. And you are?”
“Philip MacEwan. I was given Mrs. Ketchum’s name. As I was explaining to her, we have chosen this town as the site for our next movie. We shall be shooting American Waterloo: The Rout of the Penobscot Expedition, in Amity Landing. We’re here to go over the ground rules.”
Now there’s a good way to start a relationship. “Oh?”
He hesitated only a moment before indicating the fat man, who was wringing out a sopping handkerchief and reapplying it to his forehead. “This is my producer, Oliver Hadley.” He crooked a finger. “And this is our line manager, Stan Lowry.” The third man stepped forward, his eyes blinking rapidly. MacEwan looked around vaguely. “I don’t know where Sally Crook has got to. She’s our location manager and publicist. She should have been in contact with you.”
“And you are?”
“I told you, Philip MacEwan.”
Does he assume I know the name? Should I be hyperventilating? Gushing? Asking for his autograph? Jackass. She waited, a bland smile plastered on her face. Eventually he’ll have to tell me.
He must have gotten the point, for he barked, “I’m a general partner in Black Brothers Studios.” He looked down his nose at her. “Perhaps you’ve heard of us.”
“Er…” She pretended to think. “You’re from Hollywood?”
MacEwan’s mouth snapped shut. Oliver Hardy’s doppelgänger took up the slack. “Yes, ma’am. Black Brothers has produced seven Academy Award winners. Beethoven’s Paramour? Pirates of the Spanish Main? You ever hear of them?”
“Hmm. Yes, I think so.” She toyed with the idea of continuing the charade that she wasn’t familiar with the hottest movie production company in America. But…wow…Pirates of the Spanish Main!
MacEwan added, “My son, Jasper, will be the director.” For the first time he exhibited some uneasiness. “It’s his first film.”
Cassidy pounced. “Well, Mr. MacEwan, before we give you permission to work here, we’ll need to know a lot more about you and what this whole thing entails.”
“And about the film,” interjected Sissy with only slightly less disdain.
“Certainly. We’re staying at the Penhallow Harbor Inn.” He handed Cassidy a card. “Come by at ten tomorrow.” He dismissed her with a nod and turned to his companions. “Find Sally Crook now. I’m heading back to the hotel.” He walked away from an audience struck dumb by what Cassidy later pronounced as his Olympian insolence. Even Thor was speechless.
The caravan of Land Rovers had rolled out of the village when Chick remarked heavily, “What the hell?”
Excerpt 2: Philip Shows a Different Side
“Can I speak to Philip MacEwan? He’s a guest there.” She waited. “Mr. MacEwan? This is Cassidy Beauvoir. I’m at the Waldo Memorial Hospital. Your son’s had a…an accident.”
The voice on the other end paused a millisecond before answering briskly. “Serious?”
“I don’t know. They’re checking him for a possible concussion.”
She gave it.
“I’ll be there shortly.” He hung up.
By the time MacEwan arrived, the doctor was in the lobby talking to Cassidy. MacEwan started to shove them apart, but the doctor held up a hand and continued to address Cassidy. “Took a blow to the back of the head. We’ll keep him here for the rest of the night just to be sure he’s stable.” He finally acknowledged the new arrival. “And you are?”
“Philip MacEwan. The boy’s father.”
Cassidy didn’t think a thirty-something-year-old qualified as a boy, but apparently his father did. That may explain why Jasper’s so unsure of himself. She curled a censorious lip at Philip, which he didn’t catch.
The doctor was speaking. “Would you all like to see him?”
MacEwan waved Cassidy back, but she followed him in anyway. Jasper lay supine on the bed, tubes snaking from his arm. She felt a rush of fear and affection and elbowed MacEwan out of the way. “Jasper! It’s me, Cassidy.”
He opened his eyes. “Cass? What are…what are you doing here?” He saw his father behind her. “Hey, Dad. How’s tricks?”
Cassidy expected the older man to be, at the least, impassive—maybe even cold—and was unprepared for his response. He went down on his knees beside the bed. His voice broke. “Oh, my son.” He clasped Jasper’s free hand and held it to his cheek. “Don’t scare me like that.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Angus & Robertson (Australia): https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/mrs-spinneys-secret-m-s-spencer/p/9781509234486
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Oh, so many things! If you like history, Mrs. Spinney’s Secret refers to a little known but very important event in the American Revolution. If you like treasure, there’s a treasure hunt. If you like romance, there’s that too. Also lobsters (some good, some bad), movie-making, celebrities, and Red Hats. And of course, the requisite murder. Something for everyone!
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Runs June 15 – June 23, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on June 24, 2021.
Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.
Ms. Spencer has published fourteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
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