I'd heard about this series from friends, but this is the first one I've actually read. Chopping Spree is book eleven of the series, which now has fourteen books.
1. Catering to Nobody
2. Dying for Chocolate
3. The Cereal Murders
4. The Last Suppers
5. Killer Pancake
6. The Main Corpse
7. The Grilling Season
8. Prime Cut
9. Tough Cookie
10. Sticks and Scones
11. Chopping Spree
12. Double Shot
13. Dark Tort
14. Sweet Revenge
The series features Gertrude "Goldy" Schulz, a Colorado caterer who solves murder mysteries between courses. What's different about these books is that each book includes a set of recipes for dishes being served up by Goldilock's Catering.
Everybody who knows me knows that I'm no cook, but I do enjoy good food and a murder mystery. Unfortunately, something seemed missing from this book, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would have.
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):
Goldy is hired to cater a party at a shopping mall for a group of "Elite Shoppers".
Goldy consumes a lot of espresso and chocolate
Someone tries to run a truck over Goldy and friends just before the event starts.
Someone succeeds in killing somebody else, with a knife, in the shopping mall.
The clues point towards Goldilock's Catering.
Goldy downs more caffeine.
Goldy hunts down the killer, keeps her hubby happy, tolerates her bratty son, chops and dices, snoops and spies, deals with personal problems of her assistants, and yes, drinks enough coffee to cause a worldwide bean shortage.
Recipes in this book:
1. Spice of Life Cookies
2. Shoppers' Chocolate Truffles
3. Sweethearts' Swedish Meatballs in Burgundy Sauce
4. Diamond Lovers' Hot Crab Dip
5. Quiche Me Quick
6. Today-Only Avocado-Shrimp Boats
7. Super spenders' Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
8. Ad Guys' Roast Beef and Gravy
9. Wild Girls' Grilled Mushroom Salad
10. Chopping Spree salad
This one is marred by a slightly ridiculous plot and some puzzling situations, but would be fine for those times when your brain cells won't tolerate literary abuse. Also recommended for those who aren't challenged when it comes to culinary matters.
on September 1, 2003
In contrast to other reviewers, I find the plotting in this Davidson novel to be more complex and the suspicious characters to be better developed than in her previous books. The victim was a bad guy, a good guy, a two-timer, a lover who wanted (and maybe expected himself) to become faithful, a good friend, and an exploiter -- yes, all rolled into one interesting, attractive man. Likewise, the people who might have knocked him off hardly arouse indifference.
Solve riddles, read recipes, go to a Shopper's Anonymous meeting, sigh at the mistakes we all make with our children: yes, indeed, you can get a lot done reading this book. It is also a great introduction to what passes for springtime on the eastern slopes of the Rockies and to the burgeoning (some would say out of control) commercial and residential development happening here.
I had allowed myself to be put off by reviews here and finally picked up the book for a holiday weekend. I was not in the least disappointed -- except that it had taken me so long to get to it. The book engaged my brain, made me laugh out loud, and brought on ruminations about how life -- and our outrageous mistakes in it -- catches up with us all.
on July 29, 2003
I have stated in my reviews of some of Diane Mott Davidson's other books in this series that I have come to regard Goldy and her family, along with Marla & Julian, almost as real people as she has done such a good job of describing them and making their lives so realistic.
I don't know what in the world has happened during the writing of this book. As I was reading this book on vacation with family, I told them a few times that if it were not for the dedication in the front of the book, I would almost believe someone else had written it. In this book, Goldy is completely irresponsible as a parent, Arch is a caricature of an angst-ridden teenager, Marla is in a few scenes and behaves like a rich snob towards everyone, including her supposedly best friend Goldy, Tom was nearly non-existenet except to make an occasional meal and pamper to Goldy's whining....and the list goes on.
All of these anomalies were so distracting to me, that I really didn't care much who did what to whom with regards to the murder and other crimes. I hope the next in the series will be back to Ms. Davidson's writing standards.
on June 24, 2003
Goldy Schulz, owner and operator of her Goldilocks Catering, is hired by her old coffee drinking friend Barry Dean to cater a party at the high-scale shopping mall he's the manager of. Barry is murdered at the mall after the party and the whodunit begins. Goldy is on the case at once and not only because it was her friend that was murdered, but also because her family friend is the prime suspect!! Goldy puts the clues together in between cups of espresso and solves the mystery.
Chopping Spree was the first Diane Mott Davidson book I have read. I wasn't sure if I would like the book but must admit it was a very easy to read book. The plot was good and moved along at a fast pace. The characters were all interesting, even though they may not all be likable. I believe this book would have been more enjoyable had I read the previous books by this author. Even though this is a free standing book it seems as if the characters had a history that was revealed in earlier books. The reader might better understand the relationship between Goldy and Arch and Tom had they read the earlier books in order. But once you get going in this book it doesn't really matter because everyone and everything gets sorted out and becomes understood. This book is a light mystery also which was very pleasing. There isn't a lot of yucky blood and gore scenes. This was a definite plus in reading this book.
I wasn't really fond of the recipes right in the middle of the chapters. I found I was reading along at a good pace and then would have to spend extra seconds turning through recipes. I agree with earlier reviewers that the recipes should have been at the end of the chapters or the back of the book.
All in all this was a very satisfying book to read. There is enough coffee drank and food ate to make you gain five pounds while reading, but it's all worth it. I am now trying to decide which Goldy book I want to read next!
on June 12, 2003
I think I'd actually give this 3 and half, if one could give half stars. Yes, one does have to wonder how Goldy gets into all the trouble that she does. But sometimes I find the "this can't be happening" aspect of the stories is what makes it fun. After all, who wants to read about a person who's going through just another day like you're having... I'm a big coffee fan, as well as a chocolate fan, so I just have to sit back and giggle as she's enjoying her espressos. (But just to be quite accurate, however, you do know that espresso actually has less caffeine than regular coffee, don't you?) But I do have to agree that she drinks way too much! :-) It's partly what causes Julian to have his problems in this book. I was so glad to see him back in the thick of things, though dismayed that the poor dear was a jailbird. But I won't be giving away the plot when I say that of course Goldy comes through and solves the mystery.
I haven't tried the recipes in any of her books, but would like to someday. I haven't found them to be a distraction to be in the middle of the chapter, but it probably would be better off just to put them all at the end of the book or at least at the end of the chapter. I love to cook, so I can put up with some of the descriptions of her cooking, but maybe there doesn't need to be quite as much of it. After all, how integral is it to the plot?
Another series that has a lot of stuff about food is Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who .... They're not culinary mysteries, but Qwilleran loves good food, so... Probably, if I had to choose between this one and the other, I'd have to vote for the cats. But luckily, I don't have to choose. Now for the coffee snob and/or addict, one might also take a look at Margaret Truman's Capital Crimes series.
I do think that someone should teach The Jerk a lesson once and for all. No woman should ever have to put up with such a person in her life! How he manages to charm women continually, I don't know. Are women that blinded by his money?
on April 17, 2003
Reading a Goldy series book by Diane Mott Davidson is like coming home to a cozy fire with your favorite afghan and of course, a great cup of coffee (with a little of the finest chocolate on the side), and reading a long letter from a dear friend. I had read several uncomplimentary reviews of Chopping Spree, but being a fan of the series, I had to decide for myself. The rating of 3 stars is in relation to all books of any genre. Davidson has never claimed to be a world class author of fine literature. What she does claim is an ability to create a lovable cast of characters that you feel you know, and to create twists and turns that keep you guessing. Goldy's "annoying" tendencies to ignore common sense at times is part of what endears her to the reader. She is like a friend that exasperates you, but you "gotta love her." As to anyone who criticizes Davidson for Gold's son, Arch's behavior, has certainly never had a teenager! All in all, an as-usual FUN read. 'Can't wait for the next one!
on April 5, 2003
Too much caffeine, too much catering, and too much commercialism is leaving caterer Goldy (Bear) Schultz run down, tired, overcommitted and feeling plenty of guilt. Family life with Tom is wonderful, but is Arch is turning into a teenage monster? Wherever Goldy takes on a catering job, murder is sure to happen (and it isn't the yummy-licious food, either, recipes included). The "Princess Without a Price Tag Party" starts off with Goldy nearly being run over and ends in murder, and Julian being carried off to jail. Run away dump trucks, compulsive shoppers, an unidentified and an identified corpse, a new hound, snow, lacrosse, jail, espresso, cookies, prime rib, and plenty of puzzles abound. In her latest culinary mystery, Dianne Mott Davidson returns the reader to Aspen Meadows and a rendezvous with old and new friends ... and Murder. Fortunately, The Jerk (Goldy & Marla's ex-husband) stays very far in the background this time. Unfortunately Goldy's church family also seems to have moved into the background, a concession I regret.
on March 21, 2003
I used to love this series, but it's gone downhill the last few installments. This one was so bad, it's a miracle I finished it.
Arch needs to be shipped off to boot camp immediately. He used to be a cute distraction to the stories, now he makes them unreadable. He sneaks out to get a tattoo and when Goldie sees it and questions it, he tells her to "back off" -- which she does. He demands thousands of dollars in birthday presents and threatens her if he doesn't get them -- so she does. There's not a single redeeming quality left in the little punk, and he needs to be gone.
Tom has become a spineless wimp. He allows Arch to abuse his mother, he keeps his mouth shut as Goldy breaks the law and puts herself in danger to stick her nose into things she has no business sticking it into. And he's a cop, for God's sake! I get that he's supposed to be a great guy after "The Jerk," but this type of behavior just doesn't cut it. He's become unlikeable.
Even Goldy has become unlikeable. Why exactly does she allow all this stuff to happen with Arch? She feels guilty for doing what most of us have to do -- working? Would it somehow be better if she was at an office from 9-5 instead of working from her own house on her own schedule that allows for things like taking Arch and his friends to a school field trip? She's even wimply with her clients, threatening that she won't set up their meals if they don't pay her, and then setting up anyway when they sidestep her. And she still continues to put herself in dangerous situations and get herself hurt. There's nothing at all to like about her anymore.
Finally, the book should've been about half the length it actually turned out to be. Pages and pages are spent on things that could've been said in half a page. I don't need detailed descriptions of every ingredient Goldy removes from her side-by-side, of every vegetable she chops, nor of every cup of espresso she downs. I also wonder who told this author it was a good idea to stick her recipes right in the middle of chapters, often breaking up a sentence...I find that highly annoying. And if we're going to get the recipes right there, why do we need detailed descriptions on Goldy's preparations? It's overkill, and I found myself skimming through at least half the book.
About the only thing positive I can say is that at least Julian and Marla are still somewhat amusing...but based on the way the rest of this series has been going, I don't expect that to last much longer.
It's time to stick a fork in Goldy...she's done.
on January 27, 2003
As the Comic Book Guy in "The Simpsons" would say, "Worst episode EVER." There's no payoff to the story: the mystery's solution revolves around characters who have been treated so sketchily that it's impossible to care whodunnit or why. More annoying is the fact that Davidson's writing is becoming careless and repetitive. There are endless panegyrics to "heavenly" coffee and chocolate, tiresome flashbacks to previous books, and no depth to any of the main characters. Marla in particular has become hateful by this point. Why would anyone want to be friends with her?
Even basic fact-checking is lacking. Arch could not get a tattoo in Colorado without Goldy's written permission, and the laser eye surgery he begs for is not performed on patients who are under 21, so it's unlikely "all his friends" have had the procedure. (Note, too, that the average fee for LASIK is about $4000 and dropping by the month; where did Davidson come up with that $8,000 figure? A copy editor should have caught this kind of detail.) Davidson has a weirdly personal hatred of lacrosse as well. Perhaps watching a few games is what constituted her "research" for this book.
As a former mystery and series author myself, I suspect that Davidson is either getting bored or cranking 'em out too fast.
on October 21, 2002
Chopping Spree is another fun, food and murder mystery made to order by Diane Mott Davidson. This novel delves into the world of compulsive shopping, upscale mall managing and catering to those who shop there. Goldy is catering at an upscale jewelry leasing event when things go out of control. From hit and miss drivers, to competitive compulsive shopping, to murder, it all seems to unravel itself in Goldy's presence. As she tries to fit the pieces together, she soothes herself with luscious treats and delightful beverages that seem to aid her navigation through the criminal activities, as she attempts to pinpoint the motive for murder and thereby reveal the murderer. The novel is woven with some tantalizing recipes from Chocolate Truffles, to Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler, a Grilled Mushroom Salad and Swedish Meatballs in Burgundy Sauce to name a few.
Her usual delightful array of friends, Marla and Julian and her wonderfully understanding and forgiving husband are all present in this novel. She also continues to cope with a teenage son who is testing his limits and his mother's limits as well.
Chopping Spree is a fun culinary mystery ....like the Murder She Wrote television series but with a super culinary twist and lovable main characters as well as those you love to hate!