Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crunch Time

I'm used to characters series being ageless, so why has it begun to bother me?  Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of historical series where the author can slow down time, or maybe it's because there are now several authors writing contemporary series I've been reading for nearly (or over) 20 years.  I've aged but they haven't - characters who were a decade older than I are now six or seven years younger.

Goldy Schultz is one of those characters.  I read Diane Mott Davidson's first two books in 1993, the year her third book was published.  Goldy was 33, had recently gotten out of an abusive marriage, and was trying to support her 11-year-old son with her fledgling catering business.  19 years later, Goldy is 37 and happily married to a policeman, Arch is 16 and (after a few bratty months, covered in a previous book) has become an all-around good kid, and Goldy's business is doing well enough, even during a recession, to hire an assistant.  Yolanda Fernandez, introduced as an old friend (although never mentioned before Goldy's last outing, Fatally Flaky) has lost her job and her home and is being stalked by her possessive ex-boyfriend.  A cop-turned-PI takes her in, but a few weeks later he's murdered and his house is firebombed.  Against the advice of her husband Tom, Goldy takes in Yolanda and her feisty, wheelchair-bound aunt Ferdinanda and begins to investigate whether Ernest McLeod's active cases led to his murder.  Davidson manages to combine a puppy mill, stalking, stolen diamonds, and an extramarital affair into a reasonably believable plot.

The biggest weakness is Goldy's goldfish memory - Davidson frequently introduces "old friends" who were never mentioned before and are likely to disappear from the series after a few installments - but I'll forgive her that as long as she keeps including such wonderful recipes.  If it weren't so hot out, I'd make her spinach quiche (there's Gruyere in the crust, so there's no way it can be bad) and Crunch Time Cookies (oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and toffee bits).  I'll just think about them until I can turn on the news without hearing the words "heat index."

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