Monday, September 17, 2018

Just in Time (A Dodie O'Dell Mystery #4)

Author:  Suzanne Trauth
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book

ISBN #: 9781516107223
Lyrical Underground
$15.00; $5.99 Amazon
September 25, 2018


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Business is humming at Dodie O'Dell's Windjammer Restaurant, where she offers theme menus connected to the Eltonville Little Theatre's amateur productions.  This June, the theater is collaborating with the neighboring Creston Players to stage Bye Bye Birdie under the stars - their first musical!  There's a contest in the play to pick a fan to receive Conrad Birdie's last kiss before he ships off for the Army, so Dodie plans a contest to pick the food for a pre-show picnic.

But before the show opens, Ruby, the rehearsal accompanist, is found dead in her car.  Why would anyone murder the crusty old gal who loved to sneak a smoke and a nip between wisecracks?  Once again, the resourceful restaurant manager must play the part of amateur sleuth, accompanied by Police Chief Bill Thompson, who also happens to be her beau.  Confronted with a chorus of suspects, she'll need to stay composed to catch the killer - or it'll be bye bye Dodie...

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Dodie O'Dell works at the Windjammer Cafe, and is helping with the Etonville Little Theater's latest production, Bye, Bye, Birdie.  They're performing with members of nearby Creston's theater group, and all seems to be coming together at first.  But soon it's apparent that there is trouble with the cast that keeps things from running smoothly.  The director Walter is unhappy that the woman he's enamored of, Lola, is involved with another member of the crew, Dale Undershot.  Pauli, a local teen who's a whiz on computers and technology, is hankering for Janice, who plays the lead, but she seems to only have eyes for Romeo, who's playing Conrad Birdie.  And so it goes...

However, an elderly woman from Creston, Ruby Passonata, is the pianist and she's a genius at it but not very nice to the people around her.  In fact, there isn't anyone who wants to spend time with her and after seeing Dodie and her boyfriend Bill, who's the police chief of Etonville, she makes a cryptic remark about relationships that Dodie just doesn't understand.  When Ruby dies in what at first appears to be an accident but is soon discovered to be an attempt at hiding a murder, Bill is stumped and asks Dodie to keep her ears open and see if she hears anything about the Creston Players that could hint at who wanted to kill Ruby. 

When Dodie and Lola venture out to Creston to Ruby's apartment to see if she has the cue notes needed for the play, they don't expect it to be so clean, Dodie finds a scrapbook that Ruby kept which details her early years, is surprised to find Ruby went to a prestigious music academy, and traveled world wide playing.  But the scrapbook mysteriously ends in 1969 and Dodie wants to know what stopped Ruby.  So she decides to try and find out why Ruby stopped her burgeoning career and wound up playing for a small town theater group.  So Dodie sets forth merely to find out more about the reclusive woman, but doesn't realize that in doing so she might be putting her own life in danger.

First off, I have to say that this is the first book I've read of Ms. Trauth's, yet because it is the fourth in the series I rather expected more from the author.  I knew very little about the numerous characters and they seemed way too quirky for me.  In most books there is only one person who is quirky, but in this book everyone except Bill seems to be a little bit over the top in that area.  The other thing that bothered me is the way like, Pauli like, talks.  He sounds like a Valley girl.  I would have enjoyed his character more if he could actually form complete sentences once in a while.

While I knew who the killer was almost immediately, (to be fair, though, I read a lot of mysteries, so unless it's hidden well, I can usually figure it out just by something that's said or done early on), it was still interesting to me to learn the reasons why they wanted Ruby dead.  Bits and pieces were strewn throughout the story, so you didn't learn it all at once, and that's always a good thing.  

The plot was done well, and I thought that everything came together nicely in the end; there were a couple of harrowing moments for Dodie, but she bore them out decently and I have to say that I enjoyed the ending, giving us a promise of what is to come in future books.  Recommended.

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