Title: Time Out (Dodie O'Dell Mysteries #2)
Author: Suzanne Trauth
Publisher: Lyrical Underground, 2017. 240 pages.
Source: Free electronic ARC as part of the blog tour.
The amateur actors at the Etonville Little Theatre may be known for chewing the scenery, but restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has something more appetizing for them to sink their teeth into. She’s been taking bows in her small New Jersey town for her theme menus, designed to complement the local productions. This fall, the community theatre is staging Arsenic and Old Lace, set in 1940s Brooklyn, so Dodie is serving up hot dogs, Italian ices, egg creams, and knishes at the weekend food festival.
All is going well until Antonio Digenza, the ex-Off-Off-Broadway director of the show, dies dramatically while noshing on a knish. As rumors of food poisoning quickly spread, Dodie scrambles to rescue the Windjammer restaurant’s reputation. But when clues point to foul play, she’s faced with a cast of suspects all auditioning for the part of DiGenza’s murderer. She’ll need to act fast to shine a spotlight on the killer—before it’s curtains for another victim . . .
Time Out is a solid mystery with a few issues that kept me from truly loving it. The main characters are interesting and fairly well developed (I did feel I was maybe missing some things because this is the second in a series, and I have not read the first). The town felt real, and there is a nice touch of humor in the writing.
I did, however, get off to a poor start with a dump of too much information about the town, the theater, and the people in the first few pages. Once I got that straightened out, the story moved along well. My deeper criticism is a common one for cozy mysteries: I didn't feel that Dodie's motivation for running her own investigation was adequate. At first it was justifiable--she needed to clear the restaurant of any culpability in Digenza's death, and the police chief was a little too willing to accept the man's death at face value--but later, I felt that the effort to make Dodie's failure to share information with the police was a bit contrived.
I also fully expected the worst, as she kept insisting on doing things like searching the theater on her own, even after she'd been attacked twice. That was a bit too much like the horror movies where the heroine insists on entering the dark room alone...
With all that out of my system, I have to say that the mystery was well-constructed. I didn't figure it all out, and yet didn't feel that I'd been cheated of information that I should have been given. In the end, despite my frustrations, I have to say I generally enjoyed the book, and it was certainly no chore to read it. In fact, once past the first few pages, where I did have to do some flipping back and forth (most annoying with an e-book), I zipped through it quickly.
If you enjoy cozies with a decent touch of romance, and especially if you have any interest in theater (I've done just enough to get a kick out of the theater group's antics), you'll probably enjoy this.
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FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of Time Out from Great Escapes Free Book Tours, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."