Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Mass market, 351 pages, 2002
Reason for Reading: I needed a light mystery to break up some heavier reads, and this series seems to be pretty popular, so I thought I’d check it out.
Synopsis: Caterer Goldy Schulz accepts a job from an old classmate from college, Barry Dean, working an event for a new mall’s ‘elite shoppers’ evening. There seems to be a dark side to the elite shoppers, however – compulsions, mounting debts, revenge – and it seems someone is willing to kill to keep the darker side of their shopping habits a secret. Goldy and another member of her family seem to have found themselves in the way of a deadly shopping habit…
Why you should read this book: If you want a laid-back type of murder mystery, Chopping Spree should fill your plate nicely. Goldy is a busy caterer, wife and mother, so there’s a lot to the story beyond the murder mystery. In particular, Davidson does a nice job with Goldy’s fifteen year-old-son, who’s become rebellious and materialistic thanks to the group of Palm Pilot-toting friends he’s hanging out with. In between Goldy dodging whoever is trying to kill her, she’s cooking for her catering gigs, and recipes are included in the book for things like Spice-of-Life Cookies and Diamond Lovers’ Hot Crab Dip, which is a cute touch.
Why you should avoid this book: This mystery has more of a ‘cozy’ feel to it than one of great suspense. No gruesome scenes, no grieving for the murder victim, just Goldy trying to justify munching on goodies and drowning her sorrows in espresso. If you’re looking for high-tempo pacing, don’t turn to this book. A lot of time is focused on Goldy’s catering business and dealing with her son, so much that the murder doesn’t even take place until a third of the way into the book. It works as a stand-alone, but you’d probably get more out of it if you’d read the previous books in the series.
Success can kill you.
So my best friend has been telling me, anyway. Too much success is like arsenic in chocolate cake. Eat a slice a day, Marla announced with a sweep of her plump, bejeweled fingers, and you’ll get cancer. Gobble the whole cake? You’ll keel over and die on the spot.
I slowed the van and glanced in the direction of the construction, where a line of workers were putting in a winding sidewalk that would soon be dotted with inviting benches, restaurants, boutiques, and coffee kiosks. All this, Barry had told me, was more entertainment. Shoppers want picturesque spots to sit, watch the folks go by, and eat food samples, he’d said. Shoppers don’t live in a storybook village. But they want to pretend they do.
And, he’d added, they were under severe pressure from the mall owner, Pennybaker International, to get the new village done. Malls Are Getting Mauled was the message from industry insiders. Suburban folks with money in their pockets were tired of concrete parking lots leading to blank walls enclosing identical sets of stores. They wanted to see and be seen as they strolled past trees, bushes, and sculptures. They wanted to go to the bank, the dry cleaner, and the bookstore, and then have lunch at an Italian restaurant overlooking a fountain. This was exactly what all the mall owners and execs, including Barry, were trying to offer. And at some point, all those shoppers would also need to purchase dresses, cosmetics, pots, pans, and shoes, which they could do inside the mall itself, a mere fifty steps away. The best way to promote Westside, Barry had told me, was to tack a fairy-tale village onto its back end.
The air behind me swished. I stiffened and tried to scramble off the shoes. A warning voice echoed inside my head. What was-?
Swoosh. I grabbed my pocket, for my cell phone. Crack. Something struck my head, very hard. Everything faded to darkness, but not before I could ask the question that had haunted me since I reached Westside Mall, an eternity ago.
What the hell was going on?
Also recommended: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich; Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson; Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich.
Also by this author: The Whole Enchilada; Dark Tort; Double Shot; Catering to Nobody; Dying for Chocolate; The Cereal Murders; The Last Suppers; Killer Pancake; The Main Corpse; The Grilling Season; Prime Cut; Tough Cookie; Sticks & Scones.
Author’s website: randomhouse.com
Fun tidbit: Mott put Goldy in an Elizabethian setting in her book Sticks and Scones after watching the movie Shakespeare in Love fourteen times.
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007