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Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson

Davidson’s Goldy Schultz culinary mysteries are consistently among my favorites. “Crunch Time” is no exception.  Caterer, Goldy Schultz, takes in her good friend and fellow chef, Yolanda Garcia, and Yolanda’s aunt, Ferdinanda, when they are firebombed out of their apartment and out of the home of their friend, Ernest McLeod.

Goldy has several mysteries to solve because when private detective McLeod is murdered he has left several cases unsolved, and any one of his suspects in those cases could be involved in his murder.  One of these suspects may also be involved with the attempt to silence Yolanda and Ferdinanda through destruction of their homes and intimidation. The other mysteries revolve around who stole gems and gold from a Cuban-American bar owner in the area; who is running an illegal puppy mill operation; who is growing illegal marijuana; and which two people are breaking into empty homes and having sex.  Goldy also needs to investigate Kris Nielsen, Yolanda’s former boyfriend, to find out why he is stalking and intimidating her.

There are so many plot lines that it takes over 400 pages to tie them all up.  It’s mind-boggling to see how they all fit together– and some are more plausible than others. It was also sometimes difficult to keep the prodigious number of characters straight and to follow all those plot lines to the end.

A number of the characters are really fun to get to know.  Yolanda is a carry-over character from the last Goldy Schultz novel, and her aunt, Ferdinanda is particularly colorful.  Humberto Captain, another Cuban refugee, is another particularly well-developed character, and one that adds a pretty sinister character to the book.  His girlfriend, Lilly Vanderpool, has also made an appearance in this series before, and may hold an occasional continuing role, if she ever comes back from MIT.

Despite some flaws– some far-fetched and twisted plot lines– I enjoyed this long Diane Mott Davidson culinary mystery and will eagerly await the next installment in the life of Goldy Schultz, the Aspen Meadows, Colorado caterer-sleuth.

Liz Nichols

 

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