Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Whole Enchilada

Diane Mott Davidson slumped a bit after her first half-dozen Goldy Schultz mysteries, and the series has been uneven for the past decade-plus.  I never stopped reading, though, because they remained entertaining and Davidson always includes several fantastic recipes.  The Whole Enchilada is my reward for sticking with the series.  Not only do I want to try every included recipe, it's one of the best books in the series.

The book opens with a birthday party for Goldy and her friend Holly's son Drew.   Goldy and Holly met in the maternity ward and bonded over their sons and their bad marriages to doctors.  Both divorced and formed a support group with Marla (Goldy's ex's other ex) and a few other women, but as their lives improved (and Holly moved to Denver) the women drifted apart.  Holly moved back to Aspen Meadows and while the boys picked up their friendship, Holly seemed a bit distant.  That worries Goldy, but the spring/summer catering season is about to start and she's dealing with an overbearing client who wants everything to be perfect for his mousy daughter Ophelia's surprise 21st birthday party.  Her personal life is busy as well - her former assistant Julian has closed his cafe in Denver, rejoined Goldy's business, and moved in with the family and Goldy and her husband Tom are thinking about having a baby together.  So Goldy puts her concerns aside until she and Holly can catch up.

But Holly dies as she leaves the boys' birthday party - and it appears that someone tampered with one of the dishes at the potluck buffet.   As Goldy comes to terms with her friend's death, she discovers that Holly was in financial trouble, but she can't see how that would make anyone want to kill her.  Then Goldy falls into a trap possibly meant for Holly and someone stabs Father Pete in the parish office.   How were Holly's secrets involved?  Between catering events (including Ophelia's unexpectedly eventful party), Goldy and Marla pour through old meeting notes and half-forgotten memories, bringing  together what appear to be separate plots into one satisfying mystery.

My only problem with the book is that I'm afraid it's the last in the series.  The final chapter feels like a Happily Ever After coda.  Davidson hasn't so completely tied up the loose ends that she can't return to the series, but I suspect that she's at the end of a contract and she wanted give readers a resolution in case the series has ended.

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