Published by Compass Point Mysteries, A Beckoning Wind was released in December.

Dandola and his wife, Patricia, spend about two months each year visiting the Capece family, who live near the Island Country Club.

The novel finds Devereaux, an elementary-school teacher, vacationing on Marco with Eriksson at her aunt’s retreat. During their visit, they get involved in solving a murder connected to newly discovered artifacts from the contact between the Calusa and the conquistadors.

Marco and the surrounding area will also provide the setting for future Dandola stories.

“I’ve written scenes for the next one, which at least, in part, will take place on Marco Island,” Dandola said. “My characters like it there as much as I do.”

America’s early exploration is part of the plot of each installment of the Devereaux-Eriksson series.

Dandola also pens another mystery-novel series set in his hometown in the 1940's. Each has the word "Dead" in its title although they are also known as the "West Orange Mysteries." The series’ fourth installment will be released in the spring.

Prolific is an adjective that seems an apt description of his output as a writer. Aside from the dual mystery series, he has written five nonfiction books, twelve screenplays, twelve stage plays, ghost-writing projects and a host of screen adaptations.

Dandola said he’s sold six of his screenplays, “which is not a bad batting average,” but before filming begins, “they all get caught in up in financial problems. The percentage of screenplays which actually get produced is incredibly small.”

The Dandolas hope eventually to make Marco their home, which represents a 180-degree shift in the author’s former opinion of Florida. Florida’s flat terrain relative to hilly northern New Jersey left Dandola feeling unsettled. But the state’s beaches won the former lifeguard over.

“You got a nice beach and I’ll like you,” Dandola said. “I came kicking and screaming, and wound up just absolutely loving it to the point where we’re actively looking to relote.”

Marco Island’s appeal stems, in part, from the its “neat and tidy” appearance, which offers a marked difference compared to the grittier, well-established ambiance of Northern cities, Dandola said.

“I tell you, I’d move here in a heartbeat,” Dandola added.

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January 27, 2011.

Author pens mystery novel using Marco as its location

Calusa Indian artifacts play important role in John Dandola story

Don Manley

Marco Island and its nearby environs have inspired the writer and
historian in John Dandola.

In fact, Dandola's annual visits here have led to a Marco locale in
A Beckoning Wind
, the fourth in the New Jersey-based author's
Jeffrey Devereaux-Kirsten Eriksson mystery series. New England
is the usual setting. But annual Marco visits over the last five years
have left Dandola impressed and professionally inspired.

"The novel was fun to write because I got to use people and places
around here," said Dandola, who resides in West Orange, New Jersey,
where he grew up.

The plot of A Beckoning Wind, centers on the interaction between the Calusa Indians who inhabited Marco Island and Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.