Remember the old adage? Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this 14th culinary mystery featuring caterer/sleuth Goldy Schulz, that saying would be well suited.
Former district attorney Drew Wellington has made his fair share of enemies, and Goldy’s on the scene when Drew is drugged, poisoned, stabbed, and left for dead in the public library! Was it one killer, two or more who wanted that kind of revenge? There’s a plethora of suspects…the ex-Mrs. Wellington, the decade younger fiancé, double-crossed antique map dealers and clients, and rumors of dalliances with numerous women, some of whom might be underaged.
There’s plenty here to keep us guessing and involved in the story, but it’s more convoluted than that. The novel’s first line: “A month before Christmas, I saw a ghost.” Goldy comes
to a screeching halt in her car because she thinks she’s seen Sandee Brisbane, who supposedly died in a forest fire. In fact, the whole first chapter is not a grabber. The second chapter picks up the pace and concludes with the actual murder. And, Goldy thinks she’s seen the dead woman again in the library before the murder.
Unfortunately, this complicates things. The question of, “Is she or isn’t she alive?” wears thin too quickly. It also detracts from what could have been an interestingly constructed mystery in which the question of motive (revenge) leads to two sets of suspects. Those involved with Drew romantically or those involved with him in the map dealing business. Some of which overlaps.
I would not recommend this entry for first-time readers of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz Culinary mystery series. By many accounts—in online reviews and several opinions in my mystery book group—this is not Davidson’s best. Goldy recaps what she knows about the crime a bit too frequently, and the flow of time doesn’t seem to work. Realistically, one wonders if there’s really enough time for the narrated events to occur the day she’s catering back-to-back events.
However, as always, Goldy’s cooking—often used as a stress reliever or time to think—elicit wonderful descriptions of food to make anyone’s mouth water. Unlike some culinary mysteries, the included
recipes are mentioned and relate to the plot much more seamlessly here and in this series as a whole. Goldy’s narration also makes good use of food analogies in descriptions, including people!
This is an enjoyable series with humor and food. I fondly remember reading an earlier book in the series, and even this one was entertaining enough to consider reading more. I would recommend starting from the beginning, though.