Top critical review
Tuna and Suspects on Goldy's Grill
on February 13, 2001
The food is the best part of this entertaining mystery. The dishes all sound irresistible, and food as therapy is well displayed both through cooking and eating. If that were all there was to the book, it would be a five star effort.
The story involves Goldy Schulz in some sleuthing when her ex-husband is charged with killing his latest girl friend. On the surface, it looks like he went overboard with his favorite activity of beating up women. Their son, Arch, is horrified and wants to protect and help his Dad. Reluctantly, Goldy tries to do the right thing, even though she cannot stand the vicious creep (referred to as The Jerk in the book).
Unfortunately, Ms. Davidson chooses to turn Goldy into a punching bag for physical and mental abuse throughout the often-distressing plot. Her ex-husband hurts her, suspects hurt her, and her son treats her like something he stepped in. Now really, enough is enough. We all know that much such abuse occurs every day. I did not see that it advanced the plot or my understanding of it to have the heroine being constantly assaulted. On the other hand, Ms. Davidson's development of the theme is well done. She nicely captures the lassitude and passive cooperation of the victim mentality, and the utter insensitivity of the abusers.
The mystery itself involves a sort of HMO gothic, filled with evil careerists who stop at nothing to advance their own ends. Where are the silver stakes when we need them?
I thought that the legal aspects of the plot were badly flawed. Goldy is married to a police officer, and she repeatedly acts in ways that compromise the legal case against various suspects. Ms. Davidson needs someone who knows criminal procedure to look these stories over for her. Goldy's marriage would have lasted about 4 minutes if she had done these things as the real wife of a real police officer. Her abuses of the legal process are awful!
If you are a devoted Diane Mott Davidson fan, you will probably enjoy the story enough to read it, but it will probably be your least favorite of her books. If you have not yet read her work, I suggest you skip this one and read any of the earlier ones instead.
After you finish the book (if you decide to read it), I suggest that you think about how you could use comfort food in a healthy and supportive way to improve your life and the lives of those you love.