Another week, another cozy crime pick. It feels like I’m coming off a run of romance picks onto a run of murder mystery ones. And looking at what I’ve been buying recently, this could continue for a while. Anyway, lets pack Past Verity on the back, because this is the book that I mentioned that I finished on Monday last week and nearly picked then, but restrained myself and chose The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras instead, which was clearly a smart choice, because I read another two in the series last week as well.
So, the set up: Goldy is a divorced mum of one, with an awful actually abusive ex-husband. To support herself and her son Arch after the divorce (her ex is bad at paying child support and she doesn’t want to have any more contact with him than she has to) she has started a catering company. In Catering to Nobody, Arch’s favourite teacher has been found dead and Goldy has been tasked with catering the wake. But at the event her former-father-in-law is taken violently ill and she’s accused of poisoning him. With the leftovers impounded, her kitchen shut down and her ex-husband loudly proclaiming her guilt all over town, Goldy sets out to clear her name and find out what really happened – and why.
This was published in 1990, so it’s even more vintage than the first Meg Langslow and slightly less vintage than the start of the Kinsey Milhone series (which I also love). There is something about the pre-mobile phone, pre-internet era that really just works for murder mystery plausibility. This is also set in small town Colorado and that works as well and is a bit different to California or the Eastern Seaboard states which are where a lot of the cozies I read are. Goldy is a great heroine and I really liked her friendship with her husband’s other ex-wife, Marla. I’m slightly annoyed that the cover says “Goldy Schulz Mysteries” on it – as in book one (and in fact until book four) Goldy’s surname is Bear (which inspires the name of her catering company – Goldilocks Catering, where everything is just right) so it’s giving away a bit of a plot development. But I forgive it because it’s really good – so good that I immediately read book two, and then book four because the series is so old they’re not all on Kindle and it takes a while for second hand books to arrive so I’ve given up on reading them in order for once.
The other thing that this has got going for it is that I really like the recipes. Diane Mott Davidson has included lots of them – not just baked goods but some of the other dishes that Goldy is making for the events she is catering (or just for her family) as well. There are a lot of cozy crimes with recipes and quite often, as a Brit, the recipes boggle my mind. But the books in this series that I have read so far have several that I am interested enough in to think that at some point I might try and convert the American recipes (a stick of butter? Cups of dry ingredients? How imprecise) and give them a go. Which is more than I usually think!
So, my copy of Catering to Nobody came from Kindle, but it’s also available on Kobo. Getting a paperback copy is going to be reliant on the secondhard market I think – if you’re in the US you might find it in a bookshop, but I think in the UK chances are fairly remote – the best cozy crime selection I’ve seen recently was the Waterstones Gower Street one – and they didn’t have any Diane Mott Davidson books at all.