Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 15, 2017

Running out of Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Lyrical Underground (October 10, 2017)
Paperback: 220 pages


Restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell’s themed food ideas have been called cute, clever, and delicious, but never revolutionary—until now. Dodie’s Windjammer Restaurant is stocking the Etonville Little Theatre’s concession stand with colonial-era desserts and drinks: Swamp Yankee applesauce cake, pumpkin bread, hot cider punch, and mulled wine to complement the latest production. A local playwright has adapted Thornton Wilder’s Our Town into Eton Town, shifting the story to colonial America and the founding of Etonville, New Jersey, shortly after the Revolutionary War.

On opening night, hours before the curtain rises, Dodie runs into an agitated actress backstage with blood on her hands. Then a stranger is found among the chairs set for a graveyard scene with a knife in his chest. The show will not go on—the theatre is now a crime scene. Hoping to clear the red-handed suspect, Dodie returns to the role of amateur sleuth to mull over the clues and beat the backstage stabber to the punch—before someone else becomes history . . .

Guest Post

Folks love to ask writers, including me “where the ideas for stories and characters come from.” It’s an interesting question… Though I knew from the start a number of years ago that I wanted to write crime fiction, it took awhile to realize that I intended to dip my toe into the cozy mystery genre: small town life, an amateur sleuth, a sense of humor, most of the blood and guts “offstage.” I realized that I wanted to create stories that featured a cast of characters that both myself and my readers could fall in love with, would be happy to engage with over a series of books, and would be willing to invest time and reading energy into. The Dodie O’Dell mystery series was born!

The characters popped up: Dodie O’Dell, manager of the Windjammer restaurant in Etonville, New Jersey, whose smart, daring instincts are right on the money when she is faced with another murder in Etonville. Of course, she needs the help of Lola Trotter, her best friend and the artistic director of the Etonville Little Theatre, and the town’s reigning diva, and Pauli Palmieri, Dodie’s teenage computer geek. He has a digital forensics tool box to help Dodie solve the town’s mysteries. And there’s Walter Zeitzman, sometime director and playwright, in love with his wacky rehearsal exercises as well as Lola!

Meanwhile Henry, Dodie’s boss and the chef/owner of the Windjammer restaurant, supports Dodie’s theme food adventures—she plans restaurant specials and concessions that match the theme of each theatre production. But he’s not completely on board with her investigative adventures…and speaking of investigations, there’s Bill Thompson, Etonville’s hunky police chief and Dodie’s love interest, a very by-the-book officer who is gradually becoming more appreciative of Dodie’s good nose for detection, but still wary of her tendency to go it alone. And I can’t forget Benny, the Windjammer bartender and Dodie confidant, Carol, Dodie’s other BFF and the owner of the Snippets salon—Etonville’s rumor central—and the Banger sisters, Etonville’s elderly duo who have their aging digits on the pulse of town gossip.

For this series of books, I dove in with the old adage “write what you know” as my mantra! Etonville, NJ? I live in northern New Jersey, just a few miles from New York City. Which gave me the opportunity to set some scenes in the Big Apple—which I’ve done in my latest book RUNNING OUT OF TIME. The Windjammer restaurant? I spent summers waitressing as I worked my way through college and, in recent years, gained valuable insights by cooking at a local soup kitchen. I can follow a recipe but improvising with ingredients is out of my league. The Etonville Little Theatre? I had a long academic career teaching in a university theatre program and directing productions. I also spent time with a community theatre and can appreciate the challenges of getting the show on the road: The nerve-wracking casting process when everyone thinks they are suitable for the lead roles; the first read through with actors sizing up the competition and the director panicking with her casting decisions; the rehearsals contending with actors’ schedules, getting off-book, and diva behavior; dealing with bulky scenery; and those weird warm-up exercises…oh yeah, I know theatre!

So, the stories and characters for my Dodie O’Dell mystery series are very close to home. Some days I feel as if I live in Etonville, sharing in the antics of the town’s citizens. It’s fun!

Join me?


About the Author

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former university theatre professor. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Dramatists Guild. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

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