By day, Dodie is the manager of the Windjammer restaurant in Etonville, New Jersey. By night (or anytime really), she helps her fiancé, Police Chief Bill, solve crimes. It’s the day before Halloween. And it’s almost Killing Time in Etonville Little Theater’s production of Dracula. Will life imitate art?
When a new couple moves into the disheveled Hanratty place, the town begins to think Carlos is a little too close to his lead role of Dracula. He totally looks the part. Plus no one has seen him during the light of day. And his wife, Bella, is a real-life psychic! So when things start to go missing in the theater, Carlos is blamed. The town gets vampire fever. People complain to the police about “vampire” bats in the park. Even the town’s gossipy old ladies take to wearing neck scarves and garlic necklaces.
At the town’s Halloween party, Carlos appears dressed as the Phantom of the Opera. Bella reads palms. And a fully-clad Grim Reaper lurks nearby. When someone is killed in the town graveyard by a stake to the heart, Dodie feels it’s her duty to investigate—because that’s how she rolls—head first into danger.
Dodie is spunky and headstrong. She goes where others, quite rightly fear to tread. Just as you are thinking that doesn’t seem like a good idea, Dodie is already blatantly questioning the main suspect or searching someone’s bedroom in the middle of a party. Her behavior reminds me of the gothic “had-I-but-known” genre.
While I found Dodie’s behavior annoying, others will like her spunk. The mystery had a lot of twists and turns. I adored the small town setting and the supporting characters that lived there. Even while reading this book on a hot spring day, I could feel the brisk Halloween air.
Overall, if you want authentic characters and that creepy Halloween feeling, Killing Time is the book for you. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your own copy of the book below.
About Killing Time
Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)
Number of Pages: 215
Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV
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 . . .
“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.
“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.
We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.
Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.
Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”
I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.
About Suzanne Trauth
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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