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Chopping Spree    by Diane Mott Davidson order for
Chopping Spree
by Diane Mott Davidson
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Diane Mott Davidson is one of my favorite authors of cozy mysteries, certainly my favorite of culinary mysteries. And I always enjoy Goldy, even though she does remind me of a caterer/PI version of Lucille Ball, at the mercy of fate as she continually blunders into absurd situations.

This time, Goldy is burnt out from too much catering success, her best friend Marla is on her case, and her son Arch (whom I have always wanted to shake) is developing materialistic attitudes from the spoiled rich kid crowd at his new private school (paid for by the Jerk, who fortunately remains in jail). Barry Dean, a charming old college 'coffee buddy' of Goldy's has awarded her an elite shopper catering gig at the new mall (whose grounds are still under construction) that he manages.

Of course, things immediately go amiss, starting with a dump truck that attempts to run Goldy down as she delivers delicacies. Then her assistant's son is arrested by mall security; a compulsive shopper gets into fisticuffs with her husband; and Goldy unearths the obligatory corpse from a stash of shoes. The caterer comes under suspicion; close family friend (and Marla's nephew) Julian is arrested for murder; and Goldy inherits a dog named Latte and a scavenger hunt from the victim.

Under stress, Goldy cooks, since 'In cooking, you could take out your frustrations by whipping, folding, beating, and smothering' (never thought of it that way, but she does have a point!) Marla is an invaluable source, plugged in as she is to the local gossip net. And, as always, Goldy whips, folds and beats her way through a succession of munchies, murders and manic shoppers. It's a perfect recipe for success, resulting in one of the best entr9es yet in this feel-good, farcical series.

Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Diane Mott Davidson has created her 11th culinary mystery in Chopping Spree. Caterer Goldy Shultz again falls, unwillingly at first, into the investigation of a death that leads to Goldy snooping where her policeman second husband has forbidden her to go.

And what delightful snooping. While she indulges her natural bent to solve crimes, Goldy's teenage son has problems only a teenager can create for himself. Her ex, the Jerk, is in jail for probation violations. Her courtesy son / catering partner is arrested for murder (we wonder why the murder victim carried a powerful painkiller) Goldy attends a meeting of Shoppers' Anonymous, is almost run down by a construction truck, and inherits a basset hound named Latte. Goldy has good reason to suspect several of her friends. She consumes great quantities of caffeine in the guise of uncountable lattes. All of which sends the caterer into a frenzy of cooking. I wouldn't want the difficulties in my life, but would that I could cook like she does.

Davidson, in her tender words and obvious delight in the meals she cooks, speaks of food as though it were much more than something to be devoured in a few moments of time. In the author, I can see my chef daughter describing a dish she has created. With a dreamy light in her eyes, expressive hands and fingers moving again to the motions of cooking and then the ultimate account of the final sight, taste and texture of the finished dish. Wonderful to watch.

Chopping Spree is studded with recipes for mouthwatering dishes Goldy creates for her catering business. Shoppers' Chocolate Truffles sound sinful enough to murder for. Quiche Me Quick seems like no other quiche I have had - or made, for that matter. Must try it. I would have been tempted to buy the book for its recipes for salads - both Wild Girls' Grilled Mushroom Salad and Chopping Spree Salad - alone. But a fun mystery is thrown in for good measure. What more can one ask? Try Chopping Spree and tell me you don't agree.

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