Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Special Guest: M.S. Spencer, author of 'The Mason's Mark'

Good morning and thank you for having me Dorothy. I wanted to share a bit of the background to my new mystery romance The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance).

The Mason's Mark arose in part out of a true story. Starting in the 1940s an Italian named Licio Gelli embarked on a lifetime of bizarre scams and crimes. Alternately linked to rightists and leftists, he
bilked or used people from Italian politicians, to the Nazis, the Communists, the CIA, even to Juan Peron, dictator of Argentina. His exploits cross the globe and spanned four decades. At last check, he was still alive, in his nineties and writing poetry from prison. In 1996 he was even nominated for the Nobel prize in literature.

Gelli is most famous for founding a Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, a renegade group that was first dissolved, then reinstated, then erased by the Grand Orient de Italia. He had ensnared many prominent Italians into P2, which ultimately led to several huge scandals.  He is the model for the shadowy puppetmaster in my new romantic suspense novel The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance). Here's the story:

In both the best and worst first day at work ever,  docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she's drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss.  A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she'll fall in love with him only to learn he's a thief or even a murderer.

Juggling two eccentric mothers, an inquisitive sister, and an increasingly smitten Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust,  whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

Secret Cravings Publishing (released January 7, 2014)

eBook (79,000 words), Romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames

In this excerpt we meet the beautiful and dangerous Dorcas:

Excerpt (PG) Dorcas Enters the Picture

Gideon finished his scotch and savagely ripped a piece of bread in half, scattering bits all over the table. Before he could answer, a disembodied voice spoke from the shadows. “Steak and kidney pie?”
The waiter hovered, balancing large crockery plates in each hand. As he bent down, the fire lit his face with a devilish glow.
“Here, thanks, and I’ll take a pint of Guinness. Claire? Another drink?”
Claire considered her order, a rather wilted Caesar salad. O’Connells apparently didn’t approve of vegetables that weren’t boiled to death. Or any dish that didn’t include potatoes. “A glass of the South African dry Riesling, please.”
At least the ambience fit their mood. They sat at a high oak table by an unnecessary fire, overshadowed by pendent dark wood choir stalls stolen from an Irish monastery and next to a heavily varnished organ faƧade stolen from an Irish church. A tea light made a heroic effort to pierce the obscurity. It all served to heighten the sense of approaching doom.
“You were saying?” she prompted.
“Why is Dorcas here? Simple. She wants to make my life miserable. According to Mother, the man she left me for dumped her unceremoniously. I imagine her plan is to take it out on me.”
“Was the man with her in Paris?”
“Yes, but Dorcas told Mother he went back to Argentina. That’s where she originally met him. When she arrived here she learned that he left Buenos Aires for the States a month ago and is somewhere in the District. She claims if she finds him she'll give me my freedom.”
“That sounds promising.”
“Not if he doesn’t want to be found. This could go on forever.” He touched her hand. “I hate putting you through this.”
“Me?” Claire ignored the throbbing of a quickened pulse and did her best to assume an indifferent air. “What does it have to do with me?”
His emerald eyes bored into her blue ones. “I shouldn’t have to spell it out, should I?”
Claire blinked and took a large swallow of wine, coughing only some of it up. “I told you—I have renounced disporting with both jailbirds and married men.”
“Disport? Will you gambol with me then? Cavort?”
“The answer to any synonym you come up with is still no.”
The waiter skipped up and set a second Guinness down before Gideon with a flourish. “Compliments of the lady.” He gestured toward the long mahogany bar, sparkling with polished brass and crystal glasses.
Gideon followed the waiter’s pointing finger, and Claire followed his gaze. A woman sat alone facing away from them. She wore a burgundy Donna Karan suit and three-inch stiletto heels. The matching broad-brimmed hat hid her hair and most of her face. Claire checked the mirror behind the bar and dropped her fork when she saw what she would later describe to her sister as Audrey Hepburn’s doppelganger. A few tendrils of glistening black hair curled out from under the hat. High, aristocratic cheekbones flanked a flawlessly proportioned nose over ruby-kissed lips. The woman swiveled on her stool to face them and Claire nearly fell off her own. Dorcas—for it could only be Dorcas—would indeed easily pass as the twin of the late exquisite actress. Her huge, liquid, brown eyes locked on Claire.
If Gideon hadn’t stood up and stepped between them, Claire wouldn’t have been able to break the spell. She slumped, breathing heavily. “I feel like a trapped mouse.”
“Dorcas does that to people.” Gideon tossed the words over his shoulder. After a tense minute's staring match he swung around to Claire. “Come on, let’s go.” She didn’t argue. He dropped some bills on the table and stalked after her.
She had reached the door when she realized Gideon was no longer behind her. She turned to see him nose to nose with Dorcas, their lips moving rapidly, showing off very white teeth. Claire could have sworn Dorcas’s canines were unusually long and sharp. She waited.
A minute later Gideon swept past her out the door. He didn’t speak as he drove Claire home, unless one counts foam bubbling from his mouth and an occasional snort. He left her at the door. She trudged up the steps. As she fit the key in the lock, she heard ringing. That's the landline. Who would use that? She ran in and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Claire? This is Ernest. I have news.”


Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Blessed with two fabulous grown children, she has published eight romantic suspense/mystery novels. In an excess of optimism, she has recently heaved the entire ho to Florida with a detour to Maine, leaving behind the cherry blossoms, the monuments, and the political hacks. 



1 comment:

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks so much for having me, Dorothy. I hope your readers enjoy the excerpt--I like to write about villains now and then! M. S.