Would you help your ex if he or she was accused of murder? That’s what Dodie O’Dell decides to do in Suzanne Trauth’s latest mystery, No More Time. There was something you liked about this person once, right? Of course, then you got to know them. Be sure to scroll down and enter Suzanne’s giveaway and she was kind enough to share some of her thoughts about writing her series.
About The Book
No More Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
5th in Series
DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY
Restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has found her niche in the cozy New Jersey town of Etonville, creating menus that make a delicious double-act with the community theater’s productions. Now she’s ready for a vacation at the Jersey Shore town she called home before a hurricane hit. Sun, salty air, and seagulls make for a nostalgic escape from regular life—until a contingent from Etonville arrives to compete in a Jersey Shore theater festival.
Roped into helping her former boss cater the event, Dodie also gets a visit from her old flame, Jackson, who’s hoping to revive his charter boat business and is looking for a place to crash. Before Dodie can tell him that ship has sailed, Jackson’s partner is found murdered on his boat. Dodie knows her ex is a mooch, but she’s sure he’s no killer. But as she follows a trail of evidence that leads into her own past, Dodie stumbles on a dangerous conspiracy theory that could bring the festival to a shocking finale…
Excerpt from No More Time
By noon we were both hot and famished. I suggested a break from the sun at the tiki bar and we gathered our beach gear and trudged through the sand to the Polynesian music. We were halfway through our bucket of steamed clams when an elderly twosome at a table next to ours gasped in shock. We couldn’t help noticing.
“Is everything okay?” I asked gently.
The woman’s head bobbled and her wide-brimmed sunhat swung from side to side. She picked up the newspaper she’d been reading, the Candle Beach Courier, a local rag, and shoved the front page at us. “He was such a nice boy. We knew his parents years ago.”
I smiled sympathetically and scanned the sheet. Then I gasped.
“Dodie, what’s the matter?” Lola said.
“Were you acquainted with him too?” the woman asked.
I nodded numbly. Was I ever. The headline read LOCAL MAN DEAD. Underneath was a photo of the victim: It was Vinnie C. I rotated the paper so Lola could see the front page. “It’s him,” I said hoarsely.
Lola blinked. “Vincent Carcherelli,” she read.
I scanned the story. Apparently his body had been washed up on the beach sometime overnight and was discovered by a jogger early today in time to make the mid-morning edition. The police were calling it a drowning and speculating that he’d fallen off his boat, The Bounty, which had drifted half a mile off the shoreline. No foul play suspected at the moment but the investigation was ongoing.
I offered to return the newspaper but the couple refused to accept it, saying the story was too upsetting. They picked up their bill and left.
“Wow. What a coincidence. We were talking about how Jackson saw him yesterday …” Lola stopped. A light bulb went on. “The police will want to speak with Jackson. He might have been one of the last people to see Vinnie alive.”
It was Lola’s last word that brought me up short: alive. Jackson had been steamed during that meeting on the boardwalk. Did he know anything about Vinnie’s last hours? If Bill were here he’d tell me to mind my own business, let Jackson alone, let the police determine the actual cause of death. Bill was right, of course. But something about the whole event didn’t sit right with me. Why did Jackson lie about what happened when he met Vinnie?
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A Visit With Suzanne Trauth
I’ve had fun since I first began the Dodie O’Dell mystery series with Show Time (followed by Time Out, Running Out of Time, Just in Time, and No More Time debuting in July) writing about Etonville, New Jersey’s community theater: the Etonville Little Theatre. Known as the ELT. I have been able to draw on my long career in the theater as a teacher, director, writer and producer to create the on-and-offstage dramas that constantly plague the members of the ELT.
In fact, with every novel in the series, I began by choosing a play to be performed and then found ways to tie the casting, rehearsal, and performances to the murder investigation. And, of course, to Dodie’s theme food ideas! As anyone who has experienced community theater knows, there are plenty of opportunities for turmoil and conflict among the members of the organization. Much of which generates the comic elements of the Dodie O’Dell mystery series.
The characters associated with the ELT are a quirky bunch: Lola, Dodie’s BFF and ELT diva; prickly director Walter; loyal sidekick and cliché-mangling Penny; character-actor-and-perpetually-grouchy Abby; full-of-himself Romeo; and police-dispatcher-wannabe-star Edna. They are a fun ensemble that keep Dodie on her toes and the town ever-ready for opening night. From Walter’s pre-show warm-ups—circle of light, blindfold trust exercises, and floating balloons—to Penny’s antics keeping the cast in line through technical and dress rehearsals, the Etonville Little Theatre is usually a hotbed of chaos.
Which is why, in No More Time, Dodie is happy to have a break from the daily hubbub of her Etonville BFFs, friends, and neighbors for a couple of peaceful weeks vacationing down the Jersey Shore with Bill, her current love interest and Etonville police chief. At least that was the plan…
First, her parents appear on the scene from Florida to visit old friends in Candle Beach where Dodie grew up. And to catch up with their daughter and Bill. Then her ex-boyfriend materializes on the porch of the Candle Beach bungalow she and Bill have rented needing a place to crash. Finally, Dodie discovers the ELT is coming to town having been offered a spot in the New Jersey Community Theater Festival. Yikes! There goes Dodie’s scheme to escape the Etonville havoc for sun and sand and salt air…
At this point I was able to indulge my theatrical background and create a slate of plays for the theater festival finalists—seven entries that would vie for the first place award among New Jersey’s fictional community theaters. I decided to get some help. I had run a Facebook contest with Just in Time—readers submitted ideas for entrees and appetizers that I included on the Windjammer’s menu. I received such interesting suggestions that it was great fun creating scenes and dialogue around the winning dinner specials.
So…for No More Time, I asked folks to send in their favorite play titles. I had a number of great submissions to choose from, giving me options for crafting a list of titles that included musicals, classics, and comedies. Thanks readers! I ended up with seven plays from seven fictional community theaters: The Sound of Music, Cinderella, King Lear, Death of a Salesman, Noises Off, Harvey, and Mousetrap. All of these choices provided wonderful opportunities for theatrical bedlam—costume snags, rehearsal glitches, and cast malfunctions. When the actors in Harvey come down with food poisoning at a company picnic, the Etonville Little Theatre takes their place with Arsenic and Old Lace. Despite murder and mayhem, it turns out to be a terrific festival with first, second, and third place winners announced on Labor Day weekend. And the winners were…oh, wait…you’ll need to read No More Time to find out.
See you down the Shore!
Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
Guest Post from Suzanne Trouth