cover image Sticks & Scones

Sticks & Scones

Diane Mott Davidson. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10724-1

Culinary sleuth Goldy Schulz finesses another catering job by the skin of her teeth in her 11th warm and fuzzy adventure from bestseller Davidson (Prime Cut, etc.). Goldy is preparing to cater two events at the baronial estate-cum-conference center outside Denver where she and her family are staying. While waiting for a delivery, she discovers the body of one of a gang of philatelic thieves and sees her husband, Tom, wounded by a sniper. A rich feast of false clues and red herrings follows. While Tom recuperates, Goldy is free to investigate the shooter. Embarking on a series of unpleasant and improbable personal encounters, as well as demanding meal preparations, she uncovers a string of clues that not only implicate her hosts, her son's coach and her ex (now out on parole), but raise questions about her marriage to Tom. Fortunately, the author grants Goldy a few brief respites in which to settle her thoughts, allowing the reader to regroup before taking off on the next hectic sequence. Davidson has garnished her story with a rich sauce of old feuds, double-dealing and marital secrets that overwhelms her basic ingredients of credible characters (adolescent son Arch, in particular, rings true), good food and an intriguing puzzle. In the end, Goldy gets her culprit, the guests get their meals and readers, perhaps not so much sated as stuffed, get several excellent recipes. The jacket which sports a teapot in the guise of a surly butler holding a gun will be instantly recognized by the author's devotees. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Apr. 10)