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#NewRelease from Mystery Writer M.S. Spencer

I'm happy to host mystery and suspense writer M.S. Spencer today. Her newest book, IN THE CROSSHAIRS: THE BODY ON LEFFIS KEY, released on May 27, 2024 from The Wild Rose Press. Welcome M.S.!

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my brand new release, In the Crosshairs: the Body on Leffis Key.

Someone is killing people with a crossbow, but what connects the murders is a mystery, and only a birder and the aide to a dead Senator can find the answers.


Longboat Key, on the Gulf Coast of Florida is one of the barrier islands that protects Sarasota from the bad moods of the Gulf of Mexico. This is what it’s like to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida: by day the sky is the deep blue of Paul Newman’s eyes; at close of day it’s flooded with a full palette of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. Put it this way: I have a lot of pictures of my children—I have even more pictures of sunsets in Sarasota!

In the Crosshairs: the Body on Leffis Key, takes place on a small key adjacent to Longboat. A strip of low dune and mangrove swamp, it’s home to the Marine Rescue Facility and a nature walk. Our heroine Palmer is on that walk looking for birds when she finds something a lot less desirable—which, to her surprise, eventually leads to something a lot more desirable.


Palmer Lind, recovering from the sudden death of her husband, embarks on a bird-watching trek to the Gulf Coast of Florida. One hot day on Leffis Key she comes upon—not the life bird she was hoping for—but a floating corpse. The handsome beach bum who appears on the scene at the same time seems to have even more secrets than the dead man.

His story begins to unravel as the pair search for answers to a growing pile of dead bodies. Spies, radical environmentalists, and wealthy businessmen circle around each other in a complex dance. Which one is lying? What do a seemingly random group of individuals have in common, other than being targeted by a crossbow?

The Wild Rose Press, May 27, 2024

Mystery, Suspense

89,710 words; 392 pp.


Excerpt: Palmer & the Stranger

Palmer climbed into the bass boat, and Hooper pushed it back in the water. They motored after the skiff. Hooper gazed over Palmer’s head, his expression unreadable. She studied him. Dusty blond hair cut short, but not short enough to lose the wave. Luminescent gray eyes whose brooding depths reminded her of a sea captain far from home or a world-weary traveler. His gnarly hands plus the five o’clock shadow on his chin attested to his beach bum status. She checked out the filthy shorts and ragged shirt barely concealing the tanned chest. He must live alone. The thought had a curious effect on her. A kind of warmish, softish feeling, a feeling she was not in the habit of having, at least not since Peter died.

His eyes dropped to hers. “Like what you see?”

Her momentary embarrassment was swiftly replaced by irritation. “You could use a wash and brush up.”

His cheeks tightened. “Last I checked you weren’t my mother.”

“True. I’m not your wife either, but one or the other should take a hand with you.”

A spasm crossed his face. Then he attempted a wry grin. “Since I currently have neither, perhaps you could do the honors.”

She sucked in a breath. “Sorry, just passing through.” Yikes. Did he think I was flirting with him?

“Oh. Well, then.” They had reached the dock. He cranked the engine down. “Hop out and I’ll tie up.”

Palmer ran over their conversation, trying to tease out any misleading statements she had made. How to explain that I’m not in the market—not so soon after Peter… She regarded the man at the tiller. Something about him… Am I attracted to him? No, it was something else, something enigmatic about him… He looked startled when he saw the dead man’s face. And he had hesitated when the patrolman asked his name. He also acted cagey when I called him a native. Why? Could he be a fugitive from justice? She sized him up. “So…what’s your real name and who are you really?”


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About the Author:

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 seventeen mystery or romantic suspense novels. 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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