What’s Really in that Tower?

What’s Really in that Tower?

by M S Spencer

TowerAs I previously mentioned, I had started with the idea that my heroine finds a dead body on top of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, a towering landmark of Alexandria, Virginia. The GWM is not only a Masonic Lodge (Alexandria-Washington No. 22) but a memorial to George Washington and a national showcase for freemasonry. Three hundred and thirty-three feet tall, it sits atop Shuter’s Hill overlooking the colonial city of Alexandria, Virginia. The building has three sections—the ground level, the main floor, and the tower.

The fourth floor contains a museum dedicated to George Washington. Washington served as the Charter (first) Master of the Alexandria lodge, and many of his letters and memorabilia are housed here, including the Washington family Bible. The GWM is not the first Alexandria lodge, however. The original one met in the Alexandria City Hall building. When it burned down in 1871 many—but not all—important documents and memorabilia of George Washington were lost. Some were saved and are exhibited in the fourth floor museum. Others—well, you have to read the story to find out what happened to them. Since our heroine and hero meet in the museum, it follows that the Mason’s Mark would involve long lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President.

The George Washington museum plays an important role in my story, but most of the action is centered in the Tower. This holds six progressively smaller levels, each of which has a special theme and sponsor. For example, the ninth level is maintained by the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, an adjunct group of the Masons, and depicts how King Solomon’s throne room would look. The ninth floor opens onto an observation platform, from which visitors can see a panorama of Old Town spires and the white marble monuments of Washington, DC. Unfortunately for Claire, heroine of The Mason’s Mark, she saw something else, equally spectacular but much more frightening.

To ensure authenticity, I did quite a bit of research on both George Washington the Mason and on freemasonry in general.  I began with basic sites on Masonic history and rituals,  but soon my Google search led me into a strange world of global intrigue and crime. I followed one thread to a fake Masonic lodge led by a remarkable scam artist named Licio Gelli. Starting in the 1940s he 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 Perón, dictator of Argentina. His exploits crossed the globe and spanned four decades. At last check, he is 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 or P2, a renegade group that was first dissolved, then reinstated, then erased by the Grande Oriente d’Italia, the umbrella Masonic organization for Italy. He had ensnared many prominent Italians into P2, which ultimately led to several huge scandals, but it was  his connection to a shadowy group called Operation Gladio—supposedly a team of black ops left in Europe after WWII to guard against Communist takeovers—that was too intriguing for me not to use in a story. As the model for the shadowy puppetmaster in The Mason’s Mark, I’ve saddled him with yet another—this time fictional–scandal. I’m afraid you’ll have to find your way through many plot twists and red herrings to discover just what that scandal really is in The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, a contemporary tale about old scandals.

Oh, did I mention it’s a dynamite love story?

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M S Spencer  will be back tomorrow to share a few excerpts from The Mason’s Mark. 

Have you entered her giveaway yet?

Prize: A PDF copy of The Mason’s Mark. 

For a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post.

Be sure to include your email address. 

* * * * *

And now, for another “snippet”…

““Your eyes are the color of the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea on a cloudless day. I could sink into them and drown.”



  1. Wow, really interesting facts… Writing from prison!

  2. Thanks!

  3. msspencerauthor

    Yes, Gelli was an amazing (and very bad) man!

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