Review of CHOPPING SPREE by Diane Mott Davidson (see her website)
Bantam Books, July 2002
Caterer and part-time mystery solver Goldy Schulz is finally out of her financial hole--her catering business is taking off. She's nowhere in the shopping league as some of her clients--who spend thousands of dollars a month on 'stuff' and then need to rent storage to keep it--but she can afford something nice for her son, at least. Unfortunately for Goldy, financial success is not the end to her problems. Her son, 15, is perpetually angry, one of her clients reminds her of her abusive ex-husband, and another is the near-victim of a hit-and-run, except he seemed to expect the attack. When the client ends up dead, Goldie and her assistant are high on the suspect list--and the other suspects are either clients or friends. Not a good situation for a caterer trying to make it in Colorado high society.
With a little help from her cop-husband, Goldy goes to work tracking down the evidence. The victim's lifestyle made him plenty of enemies so there is no lack of suspects, but finding proof is more complicated. A number of abortive attempts to discover the truth, intermixed with cooking sprees, lead Goldy deeper into trouble but no closer to the truth. Worse, some of the clues come in the form of messages that look just like the kind that the victim used to use.
Author Diane Mott Davidson writes an engaging novel. It's easy to identify with Goldy and her attempts to keep her family together, keep her head above financial waters, and to keep her friendships alive when paranoia is running wild. A few loose ends could have been better tied up--I'm still curious about Goldy's blackouts--shouldn't she see a doctor about them--and the coffee overdoses seem extreme. I'm even more confused about an explosion that came when one of her assistants poured burgandy on a flame. Wine certainly doesn't burn. And, really, Goldy is supposed to be smart--it took her a long time to figure out some of the obvious clues. These are small quibbles, however. CHOPPING SPREE is an enjoyable and fast read with something to say about cooking (good), coffee (very good), and shopping (dangerous in more ways than one.)
Purchase CHOPPING SPREE from Amazon.com (hardback).