The new Dodie O’Dell mystery coming June, 2020 (Kensington Publishing)
With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.
But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .
Dru’s Book Musings
A Day in the Life ~ Dodie O’Dell, by Suzanne Trauth
It’s October in Etonville, New Jersey. That means I, Dodie O’Dell, am planning cool weather specials for the Windjammer restaurant I’ve been managing for the past four years and the Etonville Little Theatre is rehearsing its fall production, Dracula, to coincide with Halloween.
It’s my responsibility to ride shotgun on the Windjammer staff. This year I decided to add a little fun to their work day on Halloween by having everyone show up in costume. When I came up with this idea last month, owner/chef Henry harrumphed and shook his head emphatically. No. Eventually he came around and agreed to wear a half-mask and a chef’s hat and apron. Minus the mask, I reminded him that that was his daily costume. He glared at me.
And me? Wonder Woman!
I tried the get-up on for my fiancé Bill last night and watched as his eyeballs bugged out of his head—red sparkly bodice with a dash of cleavage, blue mini skirt, white knee-high boots. I looked like a tricked-out version of the American flag. As police chief of Etonville, New Jersey, Bill threatened to arrest me for disturbing the peace. I smiled serenely and shimmied my super-hero-self to the bedroom.
Besides the normal midday traffic, I had a lot to oversee today if I was going to be ready for Halloween. The Windjammer was supplying donuts and spiced apple cider for the kiddie costume parade, and theme food to coincide with the opening of Dracula. Not to mention helping set up the town costume party in the Episcopal Church basement. Dracula reminded me that both the theater and I had most likely bitten off more than we could chew.
I unlocked the front door and came face-to-face with Lola Tripper, artistic director of the ELT and my BFF. “Hi! Not running light cues in the theater this morning?”
Lola brushed past me and marched to the back booth near the kitchen door. Her blond hair in a tangled knot atop her head, her raincoat covered a sweatshirt. “Is it too early for a drink?”
“Trouble in theater paradise?” I plunked onto the bench.
Benny delivered a set-up and glass of chardonnay for Lola, then slid his eyes my way raising an eyebrow.
“I’m scared. Really scared this time,” Lola said, and took a big gulp of her wine. “Someone fooled with the light board and the cues are all mixed up and costume pieces are missing. Penny can’t find the stake that Van Helsing stabs into Dracula’s heart, and last night JC had trouble with the latch on the coffin.” She narrowed her eyes. “Everyone says the theater is haunted. What are we going to do?”
“Lola, pump the brakes! Haunted? You mean like there’s a ghost running loose?” I chuckled.
She sat up straighter. “You can laugh, Dodie, but I’m telling you something isn’t right. Ever since Carlos stepped into the theater, I’ve felt sort of. . .”
Carlos played Dracula. “Yeah?” I said encouragingly.
Lola shuddered. “Like an ill wind blew through the house doing no one any good.”
She might be overreacting a bit, yet I understood where she was coming from. I knew a number of Etonville folks felt the same way. Vampire fever had hit the town when a strange new couple moved in: a sophisticated and handsome man with a vaguely foreign accent and his wife, who read palms.
Etonville was agog. Half the town crowned the newcomer perfect for the role of Dracula, the other half was suspicious of the out-of-towners and suggested that maybe they really were vampires since no one seemed to see them during the day and suddenly a large bat moved into the town park. He also sported a widow’s peak. My great aunt Maureen said never trust a man with a widow’s peak. . . Still, he was Dracula! “So…you blame Carlos for the problems with the show?”
“I don’t blame him. After all, he’s doing a super job, and he seemed like a fantastic find at the time, but… No one ever sees him during the day. Only at night. At rehearsals,” Lola murmured. “Do you believe in vampires?”
“No,” I said firmly.
Lola downed the rest of her wine. “I have to get back to the theater.”
Meanwhile, I had theme food ideas to think about. Hungarian goulash seemed like a possibility until Lola insisted that Dracula was Transylvanian, not Hungarian.
Henry burst out of the kitchen. “Dodie! I ordered fresh yeast and they delivered active dry yeast. How can I make donuts with this?” He brandished a package.
Our food delivery service had blundered again. I escorted a fuming Henry back into the kitchen.
It was going to be one of those days. . .
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