Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cereal Murders

Diane Mott Davidson’s third mystery about Goldy Bear the caterer again centers on the themes of murder and cooking. Keith Andrews, the valedictorian of the exclusive Elk Park Preparatory School, is brutally murdered after giving a speech at the College Advisory Dinner for Seniors and Parents. Because this was an event Goldy is catering, she is on the scene and immediately pulled into the mystery. Goldy’s live-in helper Julian is a prime suspect in the case, and soon Goldy’s son Arch, who also attends Elk Park Prep, becomes a target for some chilling pranks. With the help of detective and good friend Tom Shulz, Goldy searches for answers.

Culinary mysteries are, in my opinion, an excellent addition to the mystery genre. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to mysteries. Anything too chilling or gory does its work too effectively by completely scaring me off. Goldy Bear’s optimism and quirky sense of humor keep these mysteries light, and death is tastefully handled in this book. Plus, as a caterer, Goldy makes delicious food that leaves my mouth watering even while I’m balled up on the couch in suspense. Davidson includes a variety of recipes in each of her books, and every one of them that I have tried has turned out delicious.

Davidson does, however, fall into the rut that many prolific authors who write in the same genre fall into. Despite the detail variation and side-plot variation in her stories, The Cereal Murders falls into the same predictable pattern as her first two books. In addition, Davidson’s writing does not always flow smoothly. My final criticism is that characters are sometimes exaggerated to the point of being unbelievable in this book. On the one hand, this could be frustrating for the reader, as it makes the story as a whole unbelievable, but on the other hand, this makes murder mysteries a little more palatable for those of us who are skittish when it comes to suspenseful stories.

Overall, though I was not absolutely impressed by Davidson’s writing style, the story is gripping, the characters entertaining, and the recipes delicious. I will most likely continue to pick up Davidson’s books when I’m in need of a little suspense or a delicious treat.

Visit Diane Mott Davidson at HarperCollins

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