by Sharon Tucker
Check out a review & giveaway of Diane Mott Davidson’s new cookbook in this same issue!
Goldy Bear was living in a dream when she fell in love with and married a handsome OB-GYN, looking forward to a life of love, security and comfort. Then to her horror, husband John Richard Korman, devolved into “The Jerk,” prone to rages that devolved into physical abuse. What’s a woman to do when her fairy tale doesn’t come true?
Goldy had to accept the fact that her Dr. Jekyll had become Mr. Hyde. Although it took her a few years to get her courage up and to get away, Goldy filed for divorce, took her 11 year-old son and started a catering business – a brilliant move on all counts, since she has a way with food and a knack for working with less than ideal clients. She also has the talent and the will to make her business a success despite knowing that she will continually bump into her ex at the moneyed functions she caters. Thus, Goldy begins to make a good life for herself and her son in Aspen Meadow, Colorado.
Obviously, Goldy is a woman of character with the wit and strength to break the cycle of abuse she could have been trapped in for the rest of her life. We know too many never escape. What distinguishes Goldy particularly is her resoluteness to see things through with humor and the support of her friends. Interestingly, her best friend is Marla Korman, another ex-wife of “The Jerk.” Marla, who possesses her own set of sterling qualities, is thoroughly rich and serves as the deus ex machina who extricates Goldy from a few of the muddles she would otherwise find insurmountable. Likewise, Goldy has an acquaintance, a homicide detective who has her back in everything else. Quite a sea change for our Goldy!
Davidson’s first Goldy Bear novel, Catering to Nobody, finds her well into establishing a new life and catering the Wake for one of her son’s middle school teachers, Laura Smiley. The deceased had been close to Goldy’s son, so Goldy is pre-disposed to look into what really happened to Laura. This is what makes Davidson’s novels good reads: Goldy has a detective’s curiosity and perseverance, but what makes her a bit different is that she thinks she is a physical coward, thanks to “The Jerk.” Despite this, she just keeps on asking questions, following her instincts and taking risks.
You may wonder at the chances she takes but her curiosity is contagious. You will find yourself urging her on despite wondering why she rarely gets back up before tearing off (especially at night) to follow up on tips or sudden inspirations. As evidence piles up that the teacher led a happy, full life, Goldy is faced with the incongruity of Laura’s even contemplating suicide and can’t let it go.
Yet another impetus to keep Goldy on the case is the apparent poisoning of one of the Wake’s attendees. She cannot work until her business is cleared of blame, so Goldy determines to discover the perpetrator when the police aren’t working fast enough.
Next up in Dying for Chocolate Goldy is catering posh events for the Aspen Meadow Country Club. She and Arch have temporarily vacated their home until she can afford to install a security system because “The Jerk” first persists in driving by to glare at her, then showing up exhibiting threatening behavior, before finally dropping by to hurt her again.
As a stop gap, she has taken up residence at Marla’s sister’s estate and become a personal chef to the sister, her husband the retired general and their houseguest, a surly teenager who resents Goldy for an unspecified reason. Goldy has also acquired two suitors along the way – a charming psychiatrist and the attractive police lieutenant, Tom Schultz, to whom she was drawn in Catering to Nobody. Here again Goldy’s curiosity gets her into what she recognizes as potentially dangerous situations, but on she goes because her business is at stake (again) and also because she has to find out who murdered one of her suitors.
The Cereal Murders is Davidson’s third Goldy Bear mystery, and here the senior class of Aspen Meadow’s prestigious Elk Park Preparatory School is in a mad race to gain entry to the best universities in the United States. Naturally, placement recommendations from faculty and the school counselor have both students and parents in a dither, but plans are to put worries and recommendations aside at the rapidly approaching college advisory dinner. Enter Goldy, Aspen Meadow’s premiere caterer!
The food is quite a success, but a murder after dessert is not quite what she planned. Cruel school pranks played on Arch, Goldy’s son who also attends Elk Park Prep, are not part of the contract either. The stakes further increase when her home is almost set afire, so she is evidently getting to close to the truth behind death, the dirty tricks besetting her personally and those troubling the school in general.
All of the above and subsequent mysteries have Goldy, her family and friends preparing delicious food or eating it but I haven’t even mentioned the recipes included in each novel, have I? Goldy’s recipes call for fresh ingredients and span the menu from tantalizing appetizers to death by dessert, with a special penchant for desserts made with chocolate. In each novel you can count on her to provide a dozen or more very special caterer-worthy recipes you can’t wait to try. I must share with you that each one I have attempted has worked a treat and the savory ones are my absolute favorites!
Davidson has written seventeen Goldy Bear mysteries and Goldy cookbooks thus far, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself binge-reading them for the high drama of each. Much as I enjoy the recipes and the delight that the characters take in all the lovely food, its Davidson’s strong characters and their relationships that keep me reading and coming back for more. Although Goldy doesn’t credit what a brave and clever woman she is, fortunately others do. She is loved for her deep loyalties and admired for her ability to get the job done in the face of every food disaster imaginable. Anyone who has worked in food service will know that Davidson utterly gets what an opera food preparation and presentation often becomes. Too, anyone who has been in an abusive relationship will recognize the helplessness that so often is the hallmark of abuse victims. However, another one of the most shining characteristics Goldy possesses is that she has turned her life around as the first novel begins and only grows stronger as the novels progress.
There are just so many good things to recommend Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Bear adventures in catering that it’s a bit of a struggle to choose but a few. I hope you will do yourself a favor and sample these good reads.
Check out other mystery and fantasy related articles, reviews & short stories in our Books & Tales category.
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