Tag Archives: Mystery/Suspense

Spotlight On: M. S. Spencer ~ Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine / #CozyMystery #RomanticSuspense #WRPbks #Blog

Please help me welcome today’s guest, M.S. Spencer with her new release: 

 

Release day for Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine!! Let me introduce you to the heroine—Philo Brice, owner of Mind Over Matter, an antique book and map store, and the hero, Barnaby Swift, graduate student and famous cruciverbalist. In the excerpt, he takes her for the best chili in St. Augustine. Or so he thinks.

Blurb:

Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.

Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.

 

Excerpt:

Barnaby stopped to survey the street, took a tentative step, and halted again. He whirled around and trotted back the way they had come. “Ah, here we are. Thought for a minute I’d misplaced it.” He led Philo down an alley she’d never noticed before to a tiny restaurant—little more than a hole in the wall. A chalkboard hung in its grimy window. Scrawled on it were the words Welcome to Flora’s. “Let’s see what the specials are.” He read. “Well, how do you like that? Chili’s on the menu. Again.” He held the door for her.

The interior was painted a garish turquoise. Two wobbly Formica-topped tables took up the open space. Pink vinyl stools lined the counter. A woman supported herself on its scratched and stained surface, folds of fat cushioning her elbows. On the steel shelf behind her stood a large coffee urn and a cake stand piled with dusty-looking churros. How on earth did she wedge herself into that cramped space? She has to weigh four hundred pounds.

Barnaby strode up to the woman. “You must be Flora. Reservations for two at six, under Swift. I know we’re a trifle early, but could you squeeze us in?” Flora stared silently at him. He said heartily, “Well, then. Two bowls of your finest chili please, with all the fixings. You want a beer?” This last to Philo.

“Thanks.”

He walked over to a refrigerated display case and pulled two bottles out. “Dos Equis. Excellent.”

They sat at one of the tables, and Flora brought out two soup bowls filled with a dark red mess, along with a tray of grated cheese, and chopped onions and peppers. She plunked a basket of fresh tortilla chips in between the bowls. “Buen provecho.”

Barnaby pulled a small bottle from his pocket. “I always carry my own hot sauce. A blend of pineapple, serrano chilis, and chipotle, with a hint of chocolate.” He poured a generous amount over his chili.

Philo took a tentative bite of hers. Her eyes opened wide, and she almost spit it out.

Barnaby handed her a napkin, concern coloring his face. “Whatever’s the matter?”

She wiped her mouth and whispered, “This is vile.”

 

 Buy link(s):

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/mZZ2Ry

https://books2read.com/Hidden-Gem-The-Secret-of-St-Augustine

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Gem-Secret-St-Augustine-ebook/dp/B09QJHCB4V

Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/1140893266   /BIN ID: 2940161144589

ITunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hidden-gem-the-secret-of-st-augustine/id1605417704

 

About M.S.:

Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fifteen 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.

Social media

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencermysteries

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

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Peculiar Activities by Mark Edward Jones ~ #Mystery #Blog #AHAgrp #WRPbks

I am very pleased to welcome Mark Edward Jones….who happens to be one of my authors at The Wild Rose Press. And, it so happens, we discovered that his wife and I graduated together…Moore High School, Class of ’80. Crazy coincidence, right? Mark is a talented author and a great guy and I am thrilled to be his editor. And the best thing of all, he’s an Elvis fan! 🙂 Take it away, Mark…

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, and I’ve lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, since 1999. I’m married and have three grown children but no grandchildren. Cooper and Jasper are Yorkies or Yorkie mixes, and they keep me more than busy.

I read and wrote a lot in junior high and high school. The dedication page in Peculiar Activities includes a note about a high school English teacher. Once in college, I read textbooks and wrote term papers, then, after marrying and children, life went faster. I retired in 2017 from the financial area of the University of Oklahoma and thought I would try writing again. Luck seems to have followed me (so far) as I found writing classes with very helpful instructors and classmates, harsh but friendly beta readers, and great editors.

Where did you get the idea for Peculiar Activities? Why did you choose this genre? 

I wanted to focus on writing a mystery novel because the genre is what I like to read and watch on television. Since there are literally hundreds of thousands of mysteries on Amazon and other platforms, I wanted to expand the story a bit beyond a generic police procedural. I included an international intrigue subplot, specifically the main protagonist getting involved with cold-case murders leading him to Vienna and Prague. This led to the book’s title, Peculiar Activities, a derivative of an actual police unit in Prague called the Unit for Special Operations.

Do you collect anything?

I still have a rock collection from my grade school years. After my mom passed away, I inherited over six hundred albums and records, and I’ve kept my eyes open in old records shops for others I may want to purchase. 

What was your first job?

In high school, hauling those big console TVs back and forth to a friend’s dad’s repair shop. 

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

Bad one. At least people supposedly have purchased and read the book. 

What is your favorite quote?

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” Steven Wright 

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I have self-published a historical fiction book in 2017 called New Beginnings, later renamed Servants, Slaves, and Sinners. I’ve pulled it from Amazon, and I’m thinking of rewriting it as a historical mystery. 

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Robert Lamm of Chicago, and I was totally tongue-tied. 

How did you come up with the title? 

The book title is the name of a Czech police unit and is based on an actual division called the Unit for Special Operations. 

Your favorite…

Movie  North by Northwest

Music  Elvis, the 70s, and Smooth Jazz

Place you’ve visited  Maui

Place you’d like to visit  Great Britain

TV show from childhood  Lost in Space

TV show from adulthood  Seinfeld

Food  Mexican

Sports team  Sooners and Dallas Cowboys (not easy)

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television?  Television

Thanks so much, Mark. It was great getting to know you better. I’m also a huge Seinfeld fan. And I love Steven Wright. Love the quote! 🙂

A murder in a park, and a new detective finds an old conspiracy.

Blurb:

Junior Detective Henry Ike Pierce is hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a dismembered body appears in a local park. The corpse’s desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and his boss assigns Henry to his first investigation. He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past.

Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. Rumors point to a killer called ‘the hooded one.’

As his investigation unfolds, the young man from western Virginia’s coal country discovers that ‘trust’ has a flexible definition.

Excerpt:

Eddie Stone pointed to our left. “There. This whole section.” He kicked away the dead foliage, and a flat headstone surfaced with the name of UNKNOWN and the death date of JULY 1987. “This used to be where we buried unclaimed bodies after two weeks. These days it doesn’t happen much with all the DNA crap.”

He stepped toward the fence, then cleared off another area. Five gray markers appeared, all said UNKNOWN and JANUARY 1995. “These are the five homicide victims Director Marconi told you about.”

Those deaths came into focus like a cold slap. “Why couldn’t you identify them?” I asked.

“No heads, hands, or feet.”
“Excuse me?”
“Whoever did this kept the skulls, hands, and feet.

With no teeth and no fingerprints, we had nothing else sophisticated enough to help us.”

“No guesses even? A missing person reports?”

“Nope. We found a connection, though.”
“To what?”
“To each other, it seemed. The victims were male,

all wore brown leather jackets, and the damnedest thing—a piece of Orehnjaca was stuck in the breast pocket of each victim.”

“Oren Jaka? I’ve never heard that word.”

He grinned. “I hadn’t either. It’s a Serbian bread dessert. A nut roll or something.”

“These murders sound more like mob hits.”

“Bingo. We’ve thought similarly over the years but couldn’t connect it to local gangs.” A blast of north wind shuffled the leaves, covering the headstones again. “I don’t think it’s only a local issue, and neither does the director.”

Buy links: AmazonBarnes & NobleAppleGoogleKobo

                             Audiobook: Amazon or Audible

 

Bio: 

Mark Edward Jones retired in 2017 after thirty-three years working in higher education finance and wanted to start writing again. In February 2021, he signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for a novel called Peculiar Activities. The book’s release date was October 6, 2021. This manuscript won first place in the mystery category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers Federation annual contest and was a finalist in the 2020 Page Turner Awards contest.

Mark signed a contract in November 2021 for the second book in the Henry Ike Pierce series, Shadowed Souls.

He is a part of a group of thirteen authors bringing together thirteen stories for a Friday the 13th anthology to be released on May 13, 2022. Mark’s short story is A Gentleman from the Darkness.

His flash fiction piece called Alone in Warsaw was published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the U.K. Publication, Painted Words.

Mark grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, then attended the University of Oklahoma, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration.

He and his wife celebrated their fortieth anniversary in November 2021.

Mystery/suspense/international intrigue novels are his favorite reads, and he’s found an odd niche with medieval murder mysteries, noting it’s interesting to see the lifestyles from other eras and how crimes were solved.

His favorite music includes Elvis, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Boz Scaggs (among many others).

Website: mejbooksllc.com      Email: mejbooksllc@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mejbooksllc   Twitter: https://twitter.com/mejbooksllc

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

M. S. Spencer is in the Spotlight with Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Wild Rose Press Author, M. S. Spencer….

 

A monster, a murderer, and a mystery lurk deep in the Amazon.

Thank you for having me today, Alicia! I’d like to tell your readers something of the inspiration for my new mystery romance Orion’s Foot.

My son had gone to Peru during his junior year in college, and I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to travel much anymore when a friend remarked, “Well, why don’t you go visit him?” Aha. I said. I shall set forth. So I hopped a plane and eleven hours later he met me at the Lima airport. Just like Petra Steele, my heroine in Orion’s Foot, we had a whirlwind tour of Lima, the capital city, a flight to Iquitos, a city set in the midst of winding waterways and dense jungle, and a boat ride deeper into that jungle.

Like Petra, I was greeted by a menagerie of exotic creatures, including capybaras, tapirs, pink dolphins, and monkeys—hundreds of monkeys! It was a great adventure. A lot of it is described in Orion’s Foot.

 

Blurb:

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a gruff, big man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

Excerpt: The Police Are Coming

“The police!” John glowered at Hector. “Did you call them?”

“No! You said not to. I don’t know what they’re doing here.”

“How close are they?”

“Still half an hour away. My cousin Luis told me they’re coming from the police substation in Nauta.” He faltered. “I…uh…I did send for Don César.”

“Don César?” Aguirre seemed confused. “Who’s he?”

“He’s the local shaman.”

“What!”

“What do we need him for?”

No one seemed happy at this news except Petra, who felt her interest piqued. A shaman! A real native witch doctor…Will he be naked? Or wear a necklace of shrunken heads? Visions of scalp locks and tattoos swirling in her head, she barely heard Nick.

“Perhaps he’ll be able to tell us what caused Lewis’s death.”

Aguirre laughed unpleasantly. “Great, he can chant and burn smelly plants. Maybe dance around the corpse jiggling shrunken heads on a stick.”

Aha, see? It’s not just me. She regarded Aguirre with approval.

Hector coughed. “Our shamans train in the arts of healing for many years. They know the flora and fauna of the rainforest better than anyone alive. Don César is a banco ayahuasquero—a master shaman. He is very skilled.” His mouth set in a prim line. “We here in Peru do not shrink heads. At least, not anymore.”

Ulp.

Aguirre said something under his breath.

Alex piped up. “What about the body? Should we leave it on the bed? Hide it from the police?” He looked toward John.

Emory wrinkled his nose. “He’s already been exposed to the air far too long.” He glanced at Petra. “The police will only have to follow the aroma to discover him.”

John jumped up. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s hide it, at least until we hear what they want.”

Nick ventured, “We could put him in the lab refrigerator.”

Emory nodded, but the others chorused a loud “No!”

Aguirre whined, “I have specimens in there. There’s one flower I think may be a new variety of bromeliad.”

Alex added anxiously, “And I have two caiman eggs cooling. They were almost ready to hatch. I want to see if lowering the temperature at this juncture in the incubation period will have an effect on the sex.”

“And what about my bottle of Stolichnaya?” This last question probably did not have the effect John anticipated. “What? I was going to share it during the celebration.”

Petra surprised everyone by asking, “Celebration? What celebration?”

Aguirre glared at Nick. “I can’t believe you brought her here.”

“I told you—”

Hector interrupted. “Excuse me, but what shall we do about the police? The shaman cannot come until tomorrow.”

Emory rapped the table. “Here’s a crazy idea. We tell them the truth.”

The sound of a motorboat pulling into the pier brought them to their feet.

 

 Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon

M. S. Spencer

Wild Rose Press, October 30, 2019

First Crimson Rose Edition, 2019

442 pp; 101,601 words

Rating: Spicy (PG13)

Buy Links:

Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

ITunes

KOBO

Google Play

Indigo

Indie-bound

About the Author:

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, speechwriter, literary editor, professional staff at a U. S. Senate committee and at the Dept. of the Interior, non-profit director, and parent. 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 thirteen 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.

Social Media Links:

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencerromance

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msspencerauthor/

Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release