Thursday, December 14, 2017

Running Out of Time - A Visit from Dodie O'Dell & Review

I'm happy to welcome Dodie O'Dell to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Dodie on the pages of the Dodie O'Dell Mystery series by Suzanne Trauth. RUNNING OUT OF TIME is the third book in the series.

     It’s winter in Etonville, New Jersey. Living down the Jersey Shore in the past had not completely prepared me for the ordeals of cold weather months: substantial snow, ice, cold, wind, sleet, more snow, freezing rain. And now I’m sneezing! My remedy? Just the usual. Aspirin, vitamin C, and a shot of whiskey. That last was my great aunt Maureen’s remedy for whatever ailed you. She usually came down with “something” once a week.
     I’ve been spending my free Sundays overseeing a baking class on steroids at the Windjammer restaurant, which I, Dodie O’Dell, manage. The latest production of the Etonville Little Theatre is Eton Town, an adaptation of the classic Our Town, set during the American Revolution and featuring the founding of the town. I’m still into creating theme food for every play the theatre produces and for this show we’re making early American desserts: Swamp Yankee applesauce cake, apple pie, mulled wine, hot cider. The bakers are Etonville folks who are having a good time peeling apples and slinging batter.
     But the baking class is over, we’ve cleaned up the Windjammer kitchen, the bakers have left, and it’s time to go home. I step outside the restaurant. Falling snow has sprinkled a light layer of powdery white stuff on all surfaces. I stick out my tongue to catch the moisture. Reminds me of afternoons I shared with my little brother Andy on those rare occasions when it snowed down the shore.
     My cell chirps. A text from Bill. Aka Etonville Chief of Police Thompson: Sorry about last night. We’d gotten to know each other during the past year when I’d assisted in the investigation of a couple of homicides. Okay, so I “investigated” on the sly and jeopardized our budding relationship. But Bill was still grateful for my detection skills and I still got all jittery when I saw that sandy-colored brush cut and former-NFL-running back build. We’d been dating for the last couple of months. Which included a New York Giants football game and Christmas Eve dinner at the Windjammer. And an aborted attempt to go sledding in the town park. At the last minute, Bill had had an emergency.
     I crank the engine of my red Metro, flip on the windshield wipers to clear a patch of window, and set off down Main Street. Slowly. Carefully. Between the ice and wind chill—which could last anywhere from three months to five months in New Jersey—I’m ready to flee to Florida where my parents reside. I could have moved there two years ago after Hurricane Sandy hit my Jersey Shore community and destroyed the restaurant where I worked, as well as my rented home. But I opted to go north across the Driscoll Bridge and ended up in Etonville, a stone’s throw from New York City, managing the Windjammer restaurant, soothing chef/owner Henry’s feathers on a daily basis, riding shotgun on the staff, and providing support for various theater ventures.
     By the time I pull into my driveway in the south end of town, a fresh coating of white covers tree branches, my small patch of front yard, and the walkway leading to my door.  I stamp the snow off my boots, fling my jacket over a kitchen chair, and debate. Should I call Bill and listen to him apologize? He’d had a work conflict last night…I got it. But it was the third time in the last few weeks that he’d had to bow out of a dinner date. I sneeze, pluck a Kleenex from a box on the kitchen table, and blow my nose. When my high school boyfriend dumped me for my best friend two weeks before the prom, my great aunt Maureen said: Dorothy dear, life is messy but love is messier. As usual she’d nailed it. Tonight, I had to be content with a mystery novel and hot-buttered rum. I’d leave the mess for tomorrow.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Suzanne Trauth
The Third Dodie O'Dell Mystery

Dodie O'Dell is back, this time supplying Revolutionary war fare for the Etonville Little Theatre's production of Eton Town, Walter's version of Our Town. As usual, the ELT is having its share of problems, from the 3 hour long run time to the turntable on stage that doesn't always want to turn. No one expects a smooth opening night-but no one expected a murdered body found on stage cancelling the performance. Now a timid young member of the troupe has disappeared, fleeing the scene of the crime with bloodied hands. Dodie believes she must be innocent, but all signs, and her behavior, point to guilt. Will Dodie go against the chief of police, who she is dating, and his new PI right hand man? Things get ever more dangerous for Dodie as she tries to find Sally and the truth. 
I always enjoy visiting the Windjammer and seeing what trouble the Etonville Little Theatre is cooking up. The antics of the actors and stage manager brings me back to the days when I was involved in theatre. The people involved in the ELT are over the top, but it's completely believable because, as over the top as they are, that's exactly what it's really like in the world of theatre. 

As enjoyable as it was reading this third outing, I had issues with Dodie's behavior. I consider Dodie an intelligent woman, but her actions were downright stupid through most of this book. True, those actions kept the story going, and some things could be overlooked, but when a truly serious thing happened to her she didn't even tell the police...when she's dating the Chief! I hope that future books will have Dodie revert to her intelligent self.

Despite my disbelief at what Dodie did...and didn't do, I still enjoyed the book as a whole. It was well paced with action buffered by daily life in the restaurant and responsibilities of the theatre.

1 comment:

  1. A small town theater is the perfect setting for a mystery.