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A Book Review:  Sticks & Scones by Diane Mott Davidson

by Sandra Bowens


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"When you feel really low, focus on the food," is caterer Goldy Schulz's motto as she struggles to conduct important business around stray bullets and stolen computers in Diane Mott Davidson's latest culinary mystery Sticks & Scones (Bantam 2002). Distraction, disaster and danger have a tendency to turn up at most of Goldy's catered events.


This time, we find her anticipating a dream booking to prepare an authentic Elizabethan menu at a recently renovated castle. Instead of arriving at this somewhat eerie location to present a simple luncheon, Goldy finds herself in the impossible situation of having to move her family in while the police determine who fired a shotgun through the front window of the Schulz home.


The real mystery is the one that Goldy's police detective husband, Tom, is at work on. That is, until he is shot by a sniper at a crime scene Goldy herself discovered. She manages to become involved in the investigation by following up on her own hunches. Between preparing the recipes for a series of events, Goldy is determined to find out where the stolen stamps have been stashed and how they involve threats to her husband's life. And just who is the mysterious woman who sending e-mails to Tom reminding him of saying he would love her forever?


The setting is elegant yet mysterious. Every character is a suspect. You can't help but laugh at the self-effacing Goldy as she stumbles through to find the answers. This is an engaging book but I found it less entertaining than past stories in the series. Those interested in stamp collecting or medieval architecture may disagree.


Although Ms. Davidson writes each book in her culinary-mystery series to stand alone, it's more fun to follow them from the beginning. Beginning with Catering to Nobody and Dying for Chocolate, on through The Cereal Murders, Killer Pancake and The Main Corpse. My personal favorite is Tough Cookie where Goldy lands her own live cooking show on PBS.


Each book is spiked with tasty recipes you will prepare again and again. The names are fun, like Lethal Layers or Chocoholic Cookies, but they are not just props. The recipes are as well-written as the books.


Cooks and mystery lovers alike will enjoy the fun of the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery Series. Ms. Davidson has been coined "the Julia Child of mystery writers." Dip into the pages and you will find yourself ready for a second helping.




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