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Crunch Time Lp: A Novel of Suspense [Large Print] [Paperback]

Diane M Davidson
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 5 2011

“A cross between Mary Higgins Clark and Betty Crocker.”
Baltimore Sun

“The Julia Child of mystery writers.”
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

No one cooks up a tastier stew of murder, mystery, and mayhem than New York Times bestselling author Diana Mott Davidson. Entertainment Weekly calls her “today’s foremost practitioner of the culinary whodunit.” And now it’s Crunch Time, as Davidson’s delightful series protagonist, caterer and amateur sleuth-extraordinaire Goldy Schulz, digs into a deadly smorgasbord that includes a heaping helping of murder, a double dose of arson…and nine adorable beagle puppies!

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“Terrific.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch on Crunch Time)

“Fans who relished Davidson’s previous culinary mysteries will assuredly eat up this newest one, too.” (Booklist on Crunch Time)

“Enjoyable.” (Publishers Weekly on Crunch Time)

“Davidson’s fans will not be disappointed.” (Kirkus Reviews on Crunch Time)

From the Back Cover

Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz cooks up big trouble as she tries to help her longtime friend and fellow chef Yolanda Garcia. When the rental house shared by Yolanda and her irrepressible aunt Ferdinanda is destroyed by arson, the pair moves in with cop-turned-PI Ernest McLeod. But then Ernest is shot dead and his house is set on fire, nearly killing Goldy, Yolanda, Ferdinanda, and nine beagle puppies that Ernest recently rescued from a puppy mill.

Concerned for her friends, Goldy invites them to stay with her while the sheriff's department investigates. Yet even Goldy's house isn't safe and, after a failed break-in by an unknown intruder, a policeman is assigned to keep an eye on things. The action really starts to rev after a second body turns up. Swapping her chef's hat for a sleuthing cap, the intrepid Goldy turns detective. But she's got to move fast. It's crunch time to close in on a killer, before he can close in on her.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save a Tree, Use the Library June 21 2011
Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson


With the death of a friend and cop turned PI, and the torching of his home where Yolanda and Ferdinanda, ex-patriot Cubans have been finding refuge, here starts the downward spiral of this book. As Goldy tries to help a fellow chef and old friend and her wheelchair bound aunt, Goldy of course not thinking or caring about her husband and son, takes these two annoying women into her home and opens herself and her family up to all sorts of danger. Unfortunately, long time readers know that this is typical Goldy behavior. However, this time it just seems to be the icing on the cake. The synopsis that the Publisher has included that says this book has laughs. Well not so much.
For first time readers there is no need to read the others in this series to be able to follow this book. But then again I would say if you were a first time reader, you might want to stay away from this book, or get it from the library and save your cash and a tree.
This was the most chaotic and unbelievable book in this series to date. It had a confusing plot, distasteful and annoying whiny 'too stupid to live' secondary characters and the red herring was so convoluted and unbelievable that it was laughable.

Spoiler Alert-------Spoiler Alert-----Spoiler Alert'
For those who have been following this series but feel like it may be time to give up and move on---here is a spoiler to let you see if you may want to change your mind---Goldy and Tom decide to have a baby. Can this be the actual end of this series?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird Goldy Schulz Adventures Lacking Charm April 22 2011
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
"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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  402 reviews
132 of 145 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful but... March 6 2011
By Rushmore - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I adore this series. There is no delicious pleasure quite like hunkering down with a new Goldy Schulz book. Over the years I have grown extraordinarily fond of Goldy, her husband Tom, son Arch, and best friend Marla. I even love her pets. The setting of Aspen Meadow is very true to Colorado, a state that is dear to my heart. And if course, someone is always cooking something that sounds super yummy.

Having said that, Crunch Time is not the strongest installment in the series. It seems unusually chaotic. Every single social event that Goldy attends, as a caterer or as a guest, is a disaster. It's hard to imagine why anyone would want her at their party. The book seems to me, surprisingly, to go on a bit too long. There are so many suspects, I just wondered why any sane person would live in such a community. Finally, there is a plot twist that I will not reveal, that just feels a bit desperate. I don't believe it would happen, and certainly not the way it rolls out.

I have built up a large store of goodwill for Goldy Schulz and her entourage. I did enjoy this book but wish Diane Mott Davidson had not felt it necessary to throw in everything including the kitchen sink. This is not a series that needs to be read consecutively, you could enjoy any single book on its own merits, but I wouldn't start with this one.
122 of 135 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good Aug. 4 2011
By Happy reader Helen - Published on
I like mysteries. I have liked this series. I didn't like this book.

My daughter got me reading these books a long time ago. She bought me some as gifts or sometimes loans me her copy after she is finished. I really like reading these and thought they were fun until now.

Goldy acted like she didn't have any brains and Tom let her get away with it. There were too many story lines and I couldn't keep track of who was who or what was what and didn't really care by the end.

When my daughter loaned me her copy, I asked what she thought and she wouldn't say much. She wanted me to make my own decision. After reading it, I think it may be time for Goldy to hang up her apron.

Interesting: I think it's funny that many of the 5 star reviews showed up here after the author posted on Facebook, asking readers to come to Amazon and give this book 5 star reviews. About 30 of the 5-star reviews (out of the 70 currently posted) were written within 24 hours of the author's request. I don't think that is right.
207 of 243 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Out of over 400 reviews this may only be my second 1-star rating, it's that bad March 11 2011
By Holly - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I am a long-time fan of this series having read every single one. I have largely enjoyed the series and looked forward to the next installment to find out what mess Goldy Schultz would get herself into next. An interesting cast of characters, the scenic setting of Colorado, and a caterer that found herself mixed up in murder investigations has provided me with many hours of entertainment. A couple of books back, I was very disappointed in the novel and gave "Sweet Revenge" a 2-star rating. The more recent "Fatally Flaky" got a 4-star from me and a sigh of relief that things were again on the upswing. When I knew "Crunch Time" was being published, I was excited and ready for a fun, light read.

With that background in mind, I must be brutally honest and say this has to be one of the worst books I have ever read (and I read a lot). From the beginning, things start off rocky and it just gets worse as the pages go on. Cozy mysteries always require that the reader suspend belief and turn a blind eye to some things that just don't make sense but this story was just a mess. There is so much wrong with this book that I can't even begin to describe it. It feels like an author with ADHD is writing about a main character with ADHD --- absolutely manic action all the time. A cast of thousands is present that make appearances for a sentence or two, disappear for awhile and then reappear for a sentence or two. The mystery is weak, the characters are weak, and Goldy runs around interrogating everyone she meets by ranting a list of questions at them that make no sense. When I got to approximately page 325 and characters start cussing and prostitution become part of the story line, I really got frustrated. Not only is this book bad, but it is LONG so the reader continues to be subjected to page after page after page of horrid dialogue, a silly mystery, and characters that are downright stupid.

I am not sure I have ever been as blunt in a review before, but this book is beyond bad. I will no longer be following this series after a book that can only be described as one giant mess from beginning to end. Absolutely painful to read - sorry!
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Aug. 23 2011
By Gayle Ann Livecchia - Published on
I started reading these books as my summer reading. As the summer is ending, I've made it through the series. While the earlier books are ok, individually, I find that as a series, they are odd. In one book the heroine inherits a puppy from a dead friend. The puppy disappeared in the next book. However, in the following book, there is a reference that a neighbor, took the puppy, and there is the implication that the neighbor doesn't have the financial resources to care for the animal in the repeated comments about the low paying receptionist. One book refers to a relationship between two characters as that of cousin, yet by the next book, they are sisters. One character is referred to with a nickname, then as Mrs. Harrington in a following book, and the writing doesn't acknowledge the relationship/interaction of characters in the previous book? When there is a change from Weezie to Mrs. Harrington.... There are numerous other oddities, that also leads one to wonder about the editing staff. NO ONE is catching these errors?

The plots are also becoming generic formula fiction.., murder, argue with husband, go off on tangent, solve murder, husband forgives. Honestly, a trip to any attorney will dispel the belief that murder is the only crime.

Why are her tires always bald? Even with a NEW van? Isn't someone able to purchase an event center, and in possession of a new van, able to purchase tires? The navigating the roads with inferior equipment is getting old.

I've also noticed the language has changed, both in reading level and use of profanity. The earlier books make reference to the church, and I enjoyed the comments about church history and church life, familiar to someone in any organized religion. As they went on, these references decreased, and an element of crudeness, for lack of a better word, started to creep in to the writing. ANd, the cooking references have become almost non-existent. I liked the various tips and hints in the earlier books.

I feel the entire series is disjointed in terms of continuity. Characters are introduced, a relationship with the reader is encouraged, and then they disappear... what happened to pregnant Peggy Sue? Maguire Perkins? Did he go to college? Recover from mono? Jullian Teller's adoptive parents? One has the impression, despite the claims that all is well, that he fled as soon as he could, and never looked back, since he spends holidays in Aspen Meadow. What happened to Dusty's family? (someone couldn't have given her mother a job, and access to furniture?). Eileen was dating that murder... yet Fatally Flaky implies that there is a Mr. Druckman, as the author refers to the Druckmans' vacation in a way that implies a nuclear fmaily.

Details are also missing... so, what about the $180,000 in gold coins found in the deposit box? Was it linked to money laundering? What did Arch, and Gus, inherit from the Jerk? Arch went from a driving nightmare to being given a car to drive? AND, driving with friends in the car? What happened to Tom's cabin? Other than a loan to pay for the kitchen...

One almost has the feeling each book was written by someone different, who was given a script, and no details about the previous books.

Crunch Time seems almost as though it is a draft, and a poor draft. It is also disjointed. The characters grate on one's nerves. They aren't refined. The first chapter dialog presents a change in all the characters from the previous books... the characters are acting out of character. The language patterns are different, and everyone just seems to whine. I generally look at the recipes first, and even they fell short of the previous books.

I am not stupid. I do not have the IQ of a paper box. I read, even fiction, to be entertained, but to be entertained intellectually. I want smart snappy dialog, and words with 3 or more syllables. I want a clever plot. A bit of educational material (the church history and cooking hints). These books are starting to mirror the Janet Evanovich ones: crude language and plots, and a low vocabulary. There is no longer anything entertaining about them.

For anyone looking for a well written series, no sex or profanity, I suggest the Elm Creek Quilt Series. They are wonderful.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There is a difference between suspension of disbelief and nonsense June 2 2011
By sherry Fowler - Published on
In order to be a fan of a mystery series, the reader must be willing to "suspend disbelief" for a while. I mean, we all know that in real life, no caterer who encounters a murder on every job she books will stay in business very long! I get that, we call it fiction for a reason.

However, as a fan and avid follower of these books since the very first one, I feel qualified to say they have crossed the line between "plot" and "nonsense". Goldy's first attempts at sleuthing were motivated by self preservation, or ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time and needing to get disentangled. With this book, her arrogance is palpable, and her nosy, illegal, blundering. clumsy interference screams self indulgent from page to page.

Any literate person will not be able to "suspend disbelief" to the point that the following becomes plausible:
1. Interfering and arguing with a police officer questioning possible witnesses or suspects.
2. Multiple instances of tampering with evidence, witnesses, breaking and entering, blackmail to gain entrance illegaly, encouraging the drugging of both a suspect AND the person she wishes to get information from, putting someone else in serious danger, trespassing, stealing objects from personal files,,,,I mean the list it endles
3. Open defiance of both a protection officer and her husband, a homicide detective.
4. That said husband would be able to RETAIN his job with his wife carrying on in this manner!
5. Last, but certainly not least, that said husband, attractive, intelligent, decent, and a truly nice guy, would have married this person, or would STAY married to someone who indulges herself by ignoring her personal safety and putting the lives of her husband and child in danger over and over and over again.

There is a passage in the book in which Tom asks Goldy:
"Cant I just ask you not to go out to the preserve without telling you why?" her immediate knee jerk mental response?"NO!" Really, that sums up the entire book. This character has disintegrated into nothing more than a selfish, spoiled, entitled woman with a toddler like attitude towards any reasonable request that she keep her nose clean. I am not at all suprised that the author has thrown in the possibility of a baby, SOMETHING has to make this character more endearing to the reader again, or this really terrible book will end the series as far as sales are concerned.
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