A chilly reception.... Caterer Goldy Schulz has been hired to host a hockey party. But the proceedings won't be all fun and games. Unfortunately, her client won't be satisfied until Goldy adds a hefty serving of revenge. An ex-husband from hell.... Patricia McCracken is certain that her obstetrician and her penny-pinching HMO are responsible for the loss of her baby. Now she is suing both, and she wants Goldy's advice on coming out on top. For Dr. John Richard Korman, aka The Jerk, is none other than Goldy's abusive ex-husband. Goldy knows all about John Richard's secret life - but even she is shocked when he's arrested for the murder of his latest girlfriend. A dish best served cold.... As much as Goldy would like to see her ex get his just desserts, could he really be a killer? Soon she will find herself sifting through a spicy mix of sizzling gossip for clues to a mystery that threatens her catering deadline, her relationship with her son and new husband... and even her life.
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Diane Mott Davidson's "Goldy Bear" series is the most uneven of any of the contemporary cozy detective series. A few are absolutely excellent, a couple are perfectly dreadful, and the majority are spread throughout the middle somewhere, neither remarkably good or bad. Except for the recipes. Those are ALWAYS good.
This one's in the middle, tending toward the 'not so good' side. For one thing, there's very little catering going on, which is the key element for me, anyway, the part I most enjoy. Not only that, there's not even much murder going on. What we have, instead, is Goldy holding forth, for dozens of minutes at a time, all about the evils of her former husband, "the Jerk". That's half the book. The other half is Goldy obsessing about her annoying son again, "Arch", certainly the most spoiled child in all of literature. There are times I swear she's just watching the kid -- who must be in his early teens -- minute by minute, to make sure he draws another breath. Enough, already! Goldy and 'the Jerk' have been divorced for several years, Goldy herself is remarried. At times I felt like taking her by the shoulders, shaking her, and saying, 'Get on with it!' Forget him! He's gone!" There's a real pathology there, her hanging unto all the hurts from that past relationship, ready to repeat them all, again and again, at the drop of a hat to anyone who will listen. And in an auciobook, that would be us.
I won't get started on "Arch" the son again. Suffice it to say that she's convinced both herself and Arch that the world revolves around him, and that whatever else is going on in the world -- or in their own lives -- her first obligation (which she actually says, believe it of not) is to make sure that he's happy. I can't wait to see what prison he'll be sent to when he grows up. That mother-son relationship is sick, just sick.
Even Barbara Rosenblat doesn't make this one come alive. She's my favorite female reader, and in other series (Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon books especially) she just shines and makes each book much better than it would have been, had someone else been narrating. But even she falls short this time -- not her best, either. Goldy is just annoying in this book and there isn't much the narrator can do about it.
On the upside, there is SOME catering, and that's always fun. The recipes are good -- in fact, at one point Goldy was making a cheese sandwich for someone -- fresh baked brioche, chevre, fresh tomatoes and pesto -- that sounded so good I had to run to the grocery store so I could make one of my own. Delish!
If you haven't read any of the "Goldy Bear" books before, don't start with this one. Others are much better -- actually the best of the lot is the very first, 'Dying for Chocolate', also available on Audible. This book just isn't anybody's best work.
I was part way through this book when I realized that I had already read the abridged version a few years ago. What the heck, I thought, let's do it. However, I cannot relate to a character who, after all these years, cannot see her way past the abuse of her ex-husband. I also strongly resent letting her son talk to her that way just so he can still have a good opinion of his father. I will listen to the next one in the series with some trepidation.