Mystery novel is tale of food to die for

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Diane Mott Davidson’s 17th mystery is published this month and she has a string of appearances scheduled to meet her fans: she will be at Tattered Cover Colfax, 7 p.m. Aug. 28, Hearthfire Books in Evergreen at 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 and at Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30.

Her engaging sleuth, caterer Goldy Schulz, lives with her police officer second husband in the fictional Aspen Meadows just west of Denver, which bears a striking resemblance to Davidson’s actual hometown, Evergreen. As the book opens, Goldy is preparing for a Tex-Mex birthday party for her teenaged son, Arch, and Drew, the son of her close friend Holly.

Menus and food preparation play a major part in her daily life — enjoyable for the person who loves reading cookbooks, as well as the mystery fan. Each book contains a group of recipes — originally spaced through the mysteries, but in recent volumes grouped at the back.

At the party, at friend Marla’s home, several guests and a stranger enter the kitchen before food is served. Why are they there and is there a connection with what happens later that night — Holly collapses and dies, presumably of a heart attack, but is it really? Was it something she ate? Goldy is convinced she was murdered.

“Publisher’s Weekly” magazine describes Davidson as “the divine diva of the culinary cozy.” She leads the reader through a community chase for a murderer and motives, presenting several widely-different men who have been involved with Holly and may have had a reason to eliminate her. Each character is well-described as to physical appearance and mannerisms, so one sorts them out in a scene.

Goldy, who prepares for two other parties during the few days covered in the book, has several close calls herself. Davidson’s descriptions of locations are detailed enough to keep one engaged throughout. And, the food descriptions keep coming —yum!

The author has built a following of fans who will welcome a chance to curl up with a new adventure and the latest book, with a publication date of Aug. 27, should attract some new admirers who will want to visit the library shelves for earlier titles. (Each one stands as a separate tale, so there’s no need to read them in order.) Recent titles are “Crunch Time,” “Fatally Flaky,” “Sweet Revenge,” and “Dark Torte.”

Davidson grew up in Charlottesville, Va., where a teacher encouraged her to become a writer. She attended Wellesley College and transferred to Stanford University, with a double major in art history and political science. An MA in art history from Johns Hopkins followed. She has a long involvement with the Episcopal Diocese of Denver, which probably explains the place of St. Luke’s and its loveable priest in this book.