Publication Date: August 26, 2008
In Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson, caterer Goldy Schultz is setting up for a library holiday brunch when she thinks she sees Sandee Brisbane, the woman that killed her husband, in the stacks. The catch is that up until that moment, Goldy and everyone else thought that Sandee was dead. When a former D.A. is found dead, Goldy is pulled into a murder mystery that seems focused on sweet revenge. Sweet Revenge is a mystery novel that includes ten recipes.
I have a pet peeve when it comes to television and that is the hallmark of the cooking reality shows — when a show recaps what viewers just saw. In a way it makes sense. Maybe someone just turned on the show but for those of us that were there all along, it’s annoying. In the case of a novel, it’s given that the reader would have been there all along. Some of us have a diminished memory due to age or circumstances. I’ve forgotten, due to age, but the need to recap what we’ve already read shows a lack of faith in the readability of the work. Davidson seems to have a compulsion to recap incessantly which works to expand a novel that really could have been much shorter and probably, as a result, more interesting.
Goldy is setting up for a library breakfast when she sees Sandee and immediately after she and the head librarian find the body of a former D.A. turned map dealer. As much of the book involves a cartography enthusiast, the number of times that Goldy takes her son on outings suddenly make sense but if there’s anything interesting about the field, Goldy doesn’t share it with the reader. Coincidentally, as Goldy immerses herself into the case, she is also catering the holiday party of one of the areas more prominent collectors placing her exactly where she needs to be exactly when she needs to be there. The way the transition was handled smacked of an easy twist for the author to propel the story, but it lacked an artistic flare.
All cozy protagonists must have an inside link and for Goldy, it’s her husband, a police detective. The husband, Tom, isn’t a fan of Goldy’s sleuthing and objects rather strenuously whenever “on screen.” His objection could be read as overbearing, except that Goldy is not good at what she’s doing and is frequently hurt. She is legitimately someone who will get herself killed and while no one wants it to happen, they seem powerless to stop a woman that sometimes pushes forward into plans without any concept of consequence.
Goldy is a well fleshed-out character. Arch, her son, is an obnoxious little brat and Tom is a ball of nerves whenever we see them. Sweet Revenge is the fourteenth book in the Goldy series and while I haven’t read any of the others, I have to think that she’s a character that Davidson has grown over time. The author has a fanbase that speaks of a talented writer in a way that Sweet Revenge does not.
Eagle-eyed readers may note that I really didn’t like Sweet Revenge. It was repetitive and poorly plotted and the characters were not compelling nor was the story engaging. That said, the novel had a number of five-star reviews on Amazon and the author has a strong following that speaks to an overall quality that I didn’t witness in the individual work. If you’re looking for a light mystery story, I would suggest giving another book in the series a shot, let me know what you think.
Read an excerpt and buy Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson on