Tuesday, December 29, 2009

... And My Love/Hate Relationship With Culinary Mysteries Continues ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ahhh ... the culinary mystery. My love/hate relationship with this genre continues ...
I actually picked up Catering to Nobody, the first book in Diane Mott Davidson's popular series, last summer. It's been living in the master bathroom ever since. Apparently, I need to eat more fiber.

The book begins with the apparent suicide of Laura Smiley, a beloved elementary school teacher. Gertrude "Goldy" Bear is hired to cater the postfuneral luncheon. Being inside Laura's house reminds Goldy of what a funny, happy person the teacher always seemed to be. Could she really have taken her own life? With a hungry crowd to feed, Goldy doesn't have much time to ponder the question. Still, it nags. Pretty soon, though, she's got her own problem to deal with: Her ex father-in-law has collapsed after drinking coffee she prepared. Suddenly, she's not only the suspect in an attempted murder, but she's also out of a job. The city has shut down her catering business - the only source of income she has to support herself and her son - until further notice. The only way to get herself out of this mess is to find out who really had it in for Dr. Fritz Korman. And Laura Smiley. Are the cases connected? In a town as small as Aspen Meadows, they almost have to be.

To support herself, Goldy takes on cleaning jobs. And amateur sleuthing. Fortunately, suspects in Korman's case are not hard to find. The real question is who doesn't want to kill the philandering OB/Gyn? There are his two ex-daughters-in-law (one of whom is Goldy), his alcoholic wife, a host of clients, and at least one person obsessed with making him pay for the mistakes of his past. While trying to ferret out information from the residents of Aspen Meadows, Goldy realizes that her two "roommates" know a lot more than they are saying. Exactly how she's going to get her moody preteen son and her lazy, young renter to spill their guts is a mystery in and of itself.

Goldy's renegade investigation is gaining her a great deal of attention. Detective Tom Schulz obviously finds her appealing, while the killer just wants to shut her up. Can she get to the bottom of the crimes before she finds herself in a shallow grave?

Probably because I read it over a period of 6 months or so, Catering to Nobody seemed really disjointed to me. I enjoyed the characters, especially the sassy Goldy, but I found the plot pretty predictable. Writing wise, I'd call Diane Mott Davidson average. The book includes seven recipes, none of which look that great to me. All in all, I found the book disappointing and probably will not pick up any of the other titles in the series.

I feel as if I've already lowered my standards pretty far, and yet I'm still disappointed in this genre. Will I ever find the perfect culinary mystery series? Or should I just give up and admit the genre's not for me? Thoughts?

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for language and references to adult situations

To the FTC, with love: Bought this mass market paperback from Border's. Wish I could say it was worth the money.

3 comments:

  1. I am also having a very difficult time finding a good culinary mystery. It seems like such a perfect genre: I love mysteries -- I love to cook -- I love to eat. But somehow I am just not as engaged in these books as I am in others.

    I am not quite ready to give up the search, but I certainly understand your predicament.

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  2. I'm pretty sure I read this, but I don't really remember it. I enjoyed the books in this series, but they didn't stick with me long.

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  3. I abandoned the Mott Davidson mysteries too. Like Molly, I love cozy mysteries, I love to cook. What was the problem? I don't know why I never went back to them.

    Think about linking this post up with my Weekend Cooking feature tomorrow (Jan. 2).

    ReplyDelete

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