Goldy Schulz, the cannonball Colorado caterer, returns for an eventful performance, as she barrels through the 16th—we could almost call it edible—adventure in this witty series by Diane Mott Davidson.

Goldy’s long-suffering husband, Tom, a sheriff’s department investigator, has his hands full keeping his wife, whom he affectionately calls “Miss G,” from overloading the menu as she switches back and forth from chef to sleuth, trying to help her friend Yolanda, and Yolanda’s aunt Ferdinanda, who were burned out of the home where they’ve been staying. The home’s owner, ex-cop turned PI Ernest McCloud, has also been found murdered in a field nearby. Everyone loves Ernest, but he may have stuck a finger in one too many pies. To complicate matters, the arson thing has happened to Yolanda and her aunt before, and recently, too—their previous residence was also burned to the ground. The pair have come to stay with Goldy and Tom and their teenage son, Arch, as complications escalate.

Thus begins another flavor-filled episode in the Goldy Schulz mystery series, and although Crunch Time is overlong at more than 450 pages, it is full of satisfying real-life dialogue along with an alarming array of suspects. Goldy manages to skirt, if not break, the law several times in pursuit of some answers for her friends . . . and to keep herself safe as well.

This page-turner includes an elusive puppy breeder; long-missing jewels; upscale parties with assorted low-life guests; an electric skillet with lethal tendencies; plenty of local gossip; a lively bunch of beagle puppies; a wickedly funny refugee from Castro’s army who wields a wheelchair with finesse; and an assortment of tasty-sounding recipes sandwiched among the pages to offer culinary relief (the comic relief goes before and after). These ultimately serve up a delicious stew that will please Goldy’s many fans. At one point, that lady, who seems to be upstaging hubby Tom in the search for clues, realizes that “I had to keep my mouth shut.” Uh-uh, ain’t gonna happen in this book.

Hint for readers: look for the romantic twist that Tom adds late in the book when he asks his wife a mind-boggling question. Author Davidson writes with an assured hand, keeping her wild cast of characters just barely under control. Loose ends are neatly tied up, and there’s a mini-epilogue to whet readers’ appetites for the next go-around.

 

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