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.
“I—” Whatever Jasper was going to say was punctured by a screech. He leapt out of his chair. “Where the hell did that come from?”
She pointed. “Over there. Probably raccoons scuffling.”
Another screech—this time definitely human—brought Cassidy out of her chair too. Jasper muttered grimly, “Digby.” He tripped down the back stairs and loped down the hill, Cassidy hot on his heels.
They found the Toff standing in the gravel road, barefoot, wearing an old-fashioned long, white, ruffled nightshirt. Jasper—who’d had the presence of mind to grab a flashlight—shone it in the fellow’s face. His eyes were wild. He grabbed Jasper’s sleeve and babbled, “Lights, action, roll ’em. Cut…cut. Lights…lights.”
Jasper gently peeled him off. “We’re not filming, Digby. Did you have a bad dream? What’s the matter?”
By this time, the cottages around them had emptied of people and a crowd had formed around the trio. Voices rose above one another. “What’s happening?”
“Who’s caterwauling? It scared my cat!”
“This is not proper Amity behavior. Will you look at the time! It’s almost nine o’clock.” Cassidy recognized the voice of Velma Puddleby, the matriarch of Amity Landing.
Ooh, Digby’s in trouble now!
Digby had barely recovered his composure when he became aware of his audience. He straightened, and his tone grew less shrill and more strident. At a decibel level more suitable for the Broadway stage, he declared: “I have been visited by an unearthly phenomenon. Strange lights. Loud noises”—he pointed a trembling finger at the Spinney roof— “coming from above me. I felt a presence.”
A low hum rippled through the pack. “A presence, you say? Was it freezing cold?”
“Did it moan?”
Digby maintained his dignity. “Laugh if you will, but I was first awakened by a knocking sound—”
“Acorns on the roof.”
“And then a whitish light flashed on and off several times.”
The man who lived across the street stepped between Cassidy and Jasper. “That was me.”
Cassidy introduced him. “This is Graham Rutter.”
Rutter’s bathrobe fell open and he tied it, but not before everyone glimpsed his Captain America pajamas. “I thought I heard a skunk in the garbage and went to investigate. What you probably saw was my flashlight.”
Digby was beginning to falter. “And…and steps on the stairs.”
This finally had an effect. “Hmm.”
In the speculative silence, Velma Puddleby chuckled. “Ah, I see you’ve met Snookie then.”
“Snookie? Who’s Snookie?”
“She’s our resident ghost. Every Maine village has one. State law.”
“Ghost? Was she murdered? Did she fall from the rafters and die, impaled on the flagpole?” He whirled around to face the shore. “Was she hurled against the rocks in a storm and broken to pieces? Does she…does she haunt anyone with the temerity to stay in her house? Oh my God, was she burned as a witch?” Digby began to wail, all traces of affectation gone. “I…I really don’t like ghosts.” He turned to Jasper and grabbed his shirt again. “I’m not doing this, MacEwan. I’m out of here.” He started to stride down the road, his nightshirt flapping against his ankles, when Cassidy coughed.
He spun around. “What?”
“Don’t you want to know what kind of ghost Snookie is?”
“No!” He must have finally registered the smirking faces around him, for he paused. “Okay, what is it?”
Mrs. Puddleby responded. “She’s about seven. Her hair is a rich chestnut brown. She has lovely long floppy ears and wags her tail a lot.”
“She’s a cocker spaniel. Belonged to Grace Spinney’s grandmother Patience. She was run over by the milk wagon in 1888. Very sad. Patience was still a child, and she was so grief-stricken she set up a little memorial to the dog.” She indicated a small cairn in the park. “It’s over there. You’ll be able to see it better in the morning.”
“So…” added Cassidy, “it’s hardly a bloodthirsty ghoul out to gnaw on your bones.”
Someone chirped, “She might try to bury them though.”
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If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
I’d dress up as the ghost of the drummer boy—left behind in the brig when the British abandoned Fort George after the rout of the American armada in the Penobscot Expedition. He drummed for three days and three nights, hoping to be rescued. Finally the drum fell silent, but they say when the gale is roaring in Penobscot Bay on a dark summer night, you can still hear his drum echoing from the ancient dungeon deep underground.
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
The worst naval defeat in the American Revolution—nearly ignored in history books. But not by Hollywood. Black Brothers Studios come to Maine to film American Waterloo: the Penobscot Expedition, and find a less than warm welcome from the inhabitants of the small town they choose to make the movie in. That is, except for the director and the local overseer. Romance, murder, ghosts, snipers, and poisonous lobsters cavort in Mrs. Spinney’s Secret. A great, scary, funny read by candlelight.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Canada account to win.
Runs October 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on November 1.
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 and has three more in the works. 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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