Behind the Scenes…
Welcome to life in Etonville, New Jersey! Population 5,284. The town dates from the American Revolution, was named after Thomas Eton, one of George Washington’s army officers, and sits in the shadow of New York City. It’s a special place, perfect for a mystery novel…its inhabitants are curious, friendly, always helpful—even if it means setting off the gossip alarms whenever someone shows up dead. Which seems to happen regularly now that Dodie O’Dell has made Etonville her home!
Let me take you on a tour…
The Dodie O’Dell Mystery Series is focused on the Windjammer Restaurant and the Etonville Little Theatre. They sit side-by-side on Main Street, making it convenient for Dodie to hop from one to the other as she manages the restaurant while supporting Lola Tripper, her BFF and one of the artistic leaders of the theater. Dodie spends her days keeping the restaurant’s menus and staff on track and many of her nights offering the theatre her management skills. And, more recently, her detective skills…
If you drive further down Main you’ll reach Amber Street. To the left is Coffee Heaven an old-fashioned Jersey diner that features Dodie’s favorite hot drink—caramel macchiato—and to the right there is a cluster of buildings: JC’s Hardware (JC builds the scenery for the theatre) and Betty’s Boutique—Etonville’s small-town, less racy, version of Victoria’s Secret. Nestled between the two stores is the Municipal Building, home to the police department. More importantly the work place of Police Chief Bill Thompson, a recent arrival in Etonville after an NFL career and time spent on Philadelphia’s big city police force. He’s still getting used to small town life and Dodie’s good nose for detection. She’s getting used to his piercing blue eyes, quirky smile, and sexy body.
Another few blocks down Main at the south end of town you’ll hit Fairfield, only a couple of minutes from the rented bungalow Dodie calls home.
Now if you step out of the Windjammer and turn left instead of right, you’ll eventually hit Anderson Street, home to Georgette’s bakery—which provides the desserts for the Windjammer—and Snippets, Etonville’s rumor central. Owned and operated by Carol, Dodie’s other BFF, if you want to know who’s doing what in Etonville, you spend an hour in the hair salon and get caught up. Particularly when there’s been a murder in town.
At the more upscale north end of Etonville, you’ll find the homes of Lola, Carol, and the chief. Scattered around the town limits are the old cemetery dating from 1759, the Eton B & B—Thomas Eton’s former farmhouse—and the Italian eatery La Famiglia, a new addition to Etonville’s culinary establishments and the archrival of Windjammer’s owner/chef Henry.
The Etonville Little Theatre is rehearsing it’s spring production, Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s a first for them but artistic director Walter thinks they’re ready to tackle the Bard. Dodie’s not so sure. Good thing she’ll be around to help out…
Character POV: the elderly, dotty, Banger sisters, Etonville’s most enthusiastic gossipmongers, on the Windjammer restaurant:
“We love the Windjammer for lunch, isn’t that right?” one of the Banger sisters says to the other.
(No one ever calls them by their first names. No one really knows what they are.)
“Oh, yes. Henry always has a special that we generally love, don’t you know. Sloppy Joes with parmesan cheese chips are my favorite.”
“And his soups are just like our mother made many years ago.”
They smile in unison and reminisce.
“Of course sometimes his meatloaf is too salty.”
“And his spicy chicken has a touch too much paprika.”
“I didn’t care for Henry’s vegetable lasagna. Too mushroomy, don’t you know.”
“I don’t understand why he doesn’t use meat like in regular lasagna?”
“Dodie said Henry is trying to broaden the palate of Etonville.”
“My palate is just fine, thank you very much.”
They pause again.
“No one ever uses our first names.”
“No they don’t.”
“Don’t tell anyone,” one sister says.
The other nods her head. “Not even Dodie.”
The tide has turned for Dodie O’Dell since a hurricane upended her life on the Jersey Shore. Now she’s further up the coast in sleepy Etonville, managing a restaurant that dishes dinners themed around the community theater’s latest productions. But Dodie just never imagined she’d land the starring role in a case of bloody homicide . . .Intrigued by rumors of vanishing box office money, Dodie has agreed to help oversee the casting of Romeo and Juliet at the modest Etonville Little Theater. If nothing else, it’s a welcome escape from the thirty-something’s usual going-to-bed-with-a-mystery-novel routine. But when Jerome Angleton, a well-respected member of the theater company, is inexplicably found murdered on the loading dock, deadly drama transcends the stage—and the page. As a crime wave crashes over the small town, the spotlight is on Dodie to orchestrate her own investigation behind the scenes . . . before someone has a chance at a killer encore.