The loud snoring woke Nancy. She poked at her cat Malone and he snarled as he slunk across the bed and out of the room.
He’d let her off easy, Nancy figured, but she’d better feed him. She had to get a swim in before the bridge group at ten. Ever since she’d moved to Whisperwood Retirement Village, she’d been busy. Even better, the place was full of intrigue. That’s why she signed up for bridge. She wanted to sit with Maureen Jenkins.
She ate breakfast, combed her white, curly hair, donned her swimsuit and robe, and headed down the hall to the pool. Others would be there. She no longer swam alone after being attacked the year before.
She swam twenty laps, then returned to her apartment, quickly showering and then dressing in blue slacks and white blouse. She made it to bridge class early, as she planned.
Maureen was a quiet widow who used to have a cheerful smile for everyone. Lately, her eyes were red as if she’d been crying. When Nancy passed her in the halls, she kept her eyes down and shuffled by. Something bad had happened to her, and Nancy wanted to help.
She began with the obvious. “Just got my lab results. No problems.”
Maureen sighed. “Mine, too. A blessing. Comes from living here, I guess.”
Not medical, then. “Staff take good care of us. It’s the families and friends that can make trouble.” She added bait. “You know. With their demands.”
Maureen shrugged. “My daughter visits me every month, brings a gift. A lovely daughter. “
“How nice,” Nancy murmured. She looked up as Dick and Lois Westerhalt joined their table. Dick was boisterous and Lois slapdash. They would overpower Maureen, and they did.
Later, Nancy met 90s Club members Louise and George in the Whisperwood Pub for lunch. “Have you any idea what’s going on with Maureen?” asked Nancy.
“I saw her in the garden,” said Louise. She was wearing her usual khaki slacks, T-shirt, and ”Save the Whale” button.
“I got out of there fast.” George rolled his eyes.
“So did I,” said Louise. “I’m no good with sympathy.”
“The garden?” Nancy asked, making plans to roam the landscaping.
“Sure. I see her there a lot,” said Louise, perusing the menu.
After lunch, Nancy walked out the white-columned entrance and took the path around the buildings. She immediately spotted Maureen, sitting on a bench and looking woebegone. This time, Nancy took the direct approach.
She sat beside her. “What’s wrong, Maureen? I’m worried about you.”
Maureen burst into tears. Nancy handed her a tissue. Maureen took the tissue and wiped her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just so worried.”
“Worried about what?” asked Nancy. “Maybe I can help.”
Maureen stared down at her hands. Nancy waited. Finally, Maureen sighed. “I’m going to jail, Nancy. To prison.”
Uh oh, Nancy thought. Another one. “Why would you go to jail?”
Maureen took a deep breath. “I got a phone call from the IRS. I owe thousands of dollars to them, and if I don’t pay up, I’ll go to jail.”
Nancy nodded. “I thought it was something like that.”
“You thought I was a criminal?” Maureen stared at Nancy.
“No.” Nancy patted Maureen’s trembling hands. “The person who called you is the criminal. Other people at Whisperwood have gotten those calls. Someone here is responsible because they know too much about us.”
“But this was the IRS,” Maureen persisted.
“The IRS would send you a letter. The call was bogus. You don’t owe the IRS anything.”
“Oh my.” Maureen put her hand on her heart. “I can’t believe it. I was so worried.”
“You didn’t send them money, did you?”
“I couldn’t, Nancy. It’s all tied up in trusts.” She shook her head. “All I could see was a jail cell.”
“Are you okay now?” Nancy asked.
A smile blossomed on Maureen’s face. She rose. “Thank you, Nancy. From now on, I don’t believe anyone who calls me about anything.”
Nancy nodded. “Good. And if it worries you, check it out. We olders are prey for con artists.”
That evening at dinner, Nancy recounted the story to George and Louise.
“We’ve got to do something, Nancy,” said Louise. She’d changed to a red flannel shirt and a “Don’t Pollute” button.
“We need to educate the residents on how to recognize a fraud.”
George squinted at his fork. “I got a call from someone who said he was my grandson and needed money.” He winked at Nancy. “Don’t have a grandson.”
They spent the rest of dinner developing plans to protect Whisperwood residents.
After dinner, Nancy went on to Spanish class. Returning to her apartment, she dodged Malone’s swat as she kept him from racing out into the hall. To make peace, Nancy fed him his dinner and added two pieces of trout she had saved for him from her own dinner.
Now maybe he’d let her get a good night’s sleep in peace.
The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock is the third book in the 90s Club cozy mystery series featuring 90-year-old Nancy Dickenson and her friends at Whisperwood Retirement Village. The series was inspired by a slim, attractive woman swimming laps that Eileen met at a pool party and then learned she was 91 years old. An avid Nancy Drew fan when she was young, Eileen began wondering what Nancy Drew would be like at 90.
Although Nancy Dickenson may or may not be an elderly Nancy Drew, the books carry hidden references to the Nancy Drew series to challenge the reader.
The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock is published by Amanita Books, November 2015.
The antique clock keeps ticking, but what does it hide? In the latest 90s Club cozy mystery, Nancy Dickenson seeks its secret as she and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village discover swindlers are targeting and defrauding the residents. The scams are online, but the swindlers know too much to be strangers. Did they shoot and kill Nancy’s new friend Betts? Nancy and the 90s Club pursue the killer and the con men, but the killer is no fool and attacks first. This time, the killer swears, Nancy will not escape.
Midwest Book Review says, “An impressively well-crafted and thoroughly entertaining mystery that plays fair with the reader from beginning to end.”
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Meet the author
A world traveler, Eileen has ridden a camel in the Moroccan Sahara, fished for piranhas in the Amazon, sailed in a felucca on the Nile, spent a night in a mud hut in Ethiopia, and lived on a motorsailer for three years exploring the east coast from Annapolis to Key West.
She is president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and also an active member of Sisters in Crime and the Independent Book Publishers Association. She lives in Columbia, MD, with her husband, Dr. Roger McIntire, author of parenting books, and their little dog José.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 22, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!