BOOK SPOTLIGHT + CHARACTER GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY: No More Time by Suzanne Trauth (Cozy Mystery)

A Dodie O’Dell Mystery #5

Suzanne Trauth
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Date of Publication:  July 23, 2019
Number of Pages:  214

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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…

The Jersey Shore! Yay! Whew…it’s been quite the summer in Etonville, New Jersey. It started off with a bang—the Etonville Little Theatre produced Bye, Bye, Birdie under the stars in the town park but before the show could open, the accompanist was found dead in her car on the side of the road…you guessed it: murdered. It was a scramble to replace her but the show did, in fact, go on and I was able to assist the investigation thanks to my now-infamous instincts. 
     Then Bill, my current squeeze and Etonville’s police chief, threw me a surprise birthday party…I’m a Gemini. It was so sweet of him and my Etonville friends to help me celebrate. But the best part? A gift certificate from Bill worth two weeks at the Jersey Shore.  In a rented bungalow in Candle Beach where I was raised and lived until Hurricane Sandy drove me north to manage the Windjammer restaurant in Etonville, a stone’s throw from New York City.
     We arrived the week before Labor Day…time enough to enjoy the sun and sand and seagulls as the summer wound down. I love this time of the year at the Shore—the water is finally starting to warm up, the temperature hovers in the eighties, the breezes off the ocean do battle with the humidity. A day on the beach leaves you feeling warm and woozy and ready for happy hour, your skin tingling from the heat, your mind relaxed…
     I love Candle Beach where I grew up with my parents and younger brother Andy. As a kid, I took summers on the ocean for granted—swimming, boating, tramping up and down the boardwalk, filling the late afternoon and evening with trips to the game arcade. And popping over to Ocean Port on my bike, a nearby shore town where my favorite great aunt Maureen lived. She was a pip! Besides writing an advice column for the local newspaper, she created the most beautiful garden in town—it always made the Ocean Port garden crawl—and on lazy afternoons when the heat kept us on her screened-in porch, aunt Maureen taught me how to play poker. A skill I have passed on to my Etonville buddies. I miss my aunt who passed on some years ago…
     Candle Beach has made a comeback from the Hurricane Sandy destruction, the boardwalk rebuilt, the sand on the beach replenished. I couldn’t think of a better place for a romantic vacation. Just Bill and me and our bungalow. Days on the beach, delicious seafood dinners…
     Best laid plans. My parents, whom I dearly love, decided that the end of the summer was also the best time to visit old friends whom they missed since their departure to Naples, Florida five years ago. And to drop in on Bill and me. They hadn’t had much opportunity to get to know him, with the exception of a quick trip to Florida at New Years. So…the four of us were going to be in Candle Beach at the same time! It was fun. Bill and Dad exchanged opinions on New Jersey/New York sports’ teams: The Jets, the Giants, the Yankees, the Mets. They had a ton to talk about. And of course, Bill and Mom traded culinary secrets and favorite recipes. Needless to say, Bill is the uber-boyfriend according to my parents. 
     They left yesterday and I’m looking forward to a leisurely week of beach fun. No family or Etonville friends. Bill and I spent the afternoon on the sand and then gorged ourselves at the titki bar with drinks and food. We strolled to our bungalow, planning a romantic evening on the screened-in porch…
     But making himself at home on said porch was Jackson, my ex-boyfriend! I nearly passed out. He was supposed to be selling farm equipment with his brother in Iowa, where he landed after the hurricane. Now, broke, he needed a place to crash for the night. I gave in…Bill was being a good sport about it all. Jackson agreed. Just one night…
     Still fuming, I decided to call it a day and try to get some sleep. I no sooner locked the front door than my cell pinged—a text coming in from Lola my BFF and artistic director of the Etonville Little Theatre. The theater had been invited to the NJ Community Theater Festival being held next weekend in Candle Beach. Etonville was headed down the shore!
     I groaned aloud…yikes!

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?
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.



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Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Blog Tours and Suzanne Trauth! It was an absolute pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!
July 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
July 10 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
July 10 – T’s Stuff – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 11 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
July 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 12 – That’s What She’s Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 13 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST
July 15 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 16 – Laura’s Interests – CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 16 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 17 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 20 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 21 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY
July 22 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
July 22 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

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