"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." -- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)
This novel could have been titled, "The Raunchy Side of Aspen Meadow." If you like your Goldy Schulz novels to be mostly about home, hearth, and happiness, you may wonder if you picked up the wrong book with this one. There are more tawdry references to sex, unfaithfulness, and abuse than you will find in some mainstream mysteries. Ms. Davidson also packs her novel with more disgusting characters than usual.
The main plot involves Goldy's chef friend, Yolanda Garcia, who attracts danger like a magnet attracts iron filings. As the book opens, Yolanda's great aunt Ferdinanda is in a wheelchair recovering from a hit-and-run, the home they had rented had been burned to the ground, the man who had been sheltering the pair has just been murdered, and Yolanda is in fear of an abusive former lover. The murdered man, Ernest McLeod, had been engaged in a number of private investigations. Does his murder have anything to do with his work? That line of questioning dips Goldy into checking out who had a motive to kill him . . . which seems like an unending series of characters after plot developments quickly add more threats. Take notes as you go. Otherwise, you may lose track of all the grungy characters and their pasts.
A lot of the charm in this series relates to Goldy being a lovable character and her interactions with her husband Tom, her son Arch, and her friend Marla. The main focus here is on her relationship with Tom, which heavily involves leaving messages for him before she launches off to do something illegal or dangerous. The charm quotient is at a pretty low ebb as a result.
Goldy is also more aggressive than usual, so there are more break-ins and illegal doings by her than in a Mannix episode. It doesn't feel very charming.
Ms. Davidson also likes to put her heroines in peril, to have them be physically abused, and to be injured. Crunch Time as a title could be referring to such injuries rather than to being busy (which it does) or eating something tasty (which it somewhat does). The writing is over the top in this regard.
I almost graded the book at two stars, but there is saving grace in the entertainment value of Ferdinanda who I think you'll enjoy as a character. Call it two-and-a-half stars.
Crunch Time is another example of an overpriced book in Canadian dollars. If that annoys you, on a value scale look at the book as a two star value for the price.