Book Review – Dark Tort

  • Title: Dark Tort
  • Author: Diane Mott Davidson
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/25/2018

I enjoyed this book more than the previous one in the series, though there are still the occasional issue. This time, caterer Goldy Schulz, has gotten a regular gig catering the early morning power breakfasts for a prestigious law firm, and the client brunches on Fridays. She’s heading in to the law firm on Thursday night to prep for the next morning’s client breakfast, when she literally trips over the body of the woman she’s meeting, Dusty Routt, a trainee paralegal that Goldy is also teaching how to cook. Why Goldy does her cooking at the law firm instead of her own kitchen is not explained. (It is explained that she can’t use the Roundhouse, her catering location, due to renovations.) Goldy freaks out (not to mention adding to the mess in the office) and actually tries to revive the obviously dead Dusty before running off to call the police and an ambulance. In an attempt to find a phone, Goldy runs into a bit of bad luck – her phone is locked in her van and her keys are missing. She runs across the street, finds an all-night copy center, and uses their phone. The guy working at the copy center is Dusty’s ex-boyfriend.

Goldy was friends with Dusty and her mother, and when she goes to visit the mother and to offer her sympathies, the mother asks Goldy to find out what happened to her daughter. Dusty was a go getter who had managed to (until she was killed) land on her feet, despite some early setbacks in life. This doesn’t prevent nearly everyone from criticizing Dusty for making something of her life despite the setbacks.

Goldy, also, is catering various events – including a birthday party for one of the lawyers, where the theme is based on a piece of artwork that is food themed. The artist, Charlie Baker, was a Colorado native, who, first as a hobby, and later, professionally, created paintings of food, hand-lettering the recipe at the bottom of the painting. The lawyer’s wife asked Goldy to make Journey Cake based on the painting and recipe she was giving to her husband for his birthday. Goldy tries out the cake several times, and it fails each time. She makes an “Old Reliable” cake instead. But the failing recipe isn’t a red herring or atmosphere – it’s a vital clue. And while, it’s easy to figure out that it’s a vital clue (The Purloined Letter, anyone?), the ultimate denouement of the novel is still a surprise. That is, as a reader, it’s easy to tell that the painting and the recipe are important, but it’s still a surprise to find out how and why.

As is usual in the Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries, Goldy splits her time between investigating the crime(s), digging up clues and gossip, and cooking and preparing her catering events. On the personal front, Goldy is doing much better, and some of the sweetest scenes in the book are between her son and his newly discovered half brother. I hope to see more of Arch and Gus in future books! Goldy seems less hands-on in investigating Dusty’s death, more of passing gossip and info to the police, and urging people to come forth with what they know. As usual, there’s a life-and-death struggle at the end with the murderer, which I’m not going to spoil.

The social scheme for this book is Dusty’s class and background and her mother’s. Davidson condemns Dusty and her mom as “welfare people” – even though Dusty has a full-time job, a college education, and is enrolled in paralegal school, with plans of becoming a lawyer. Her character of Goldy doesn’t seem to really condemn the 18th century attitudes of the people in Aspen Meadow. Goldy herself doesn’t seem as keen to take on a murder investigation either because of her class issues. There’s less ridiculous attacks on the police, local, and Federal government in this book than the previous one, though. In fact, because the victim was raised in a poor family (or at least not stinking rich), Goldy seems willing to leave it to the police. At least Goldy isn’t accused of murder again.

Dark Tort is a fun and very quick read. I enjoyed that part of the book. Recommended.

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