“The Whole Enchilada” is the 17th novel in the Goldy Bear (now Schultz) culinary mysteries series. Goldy’s business, Goldy Bear Catering, is booming and she is busy cooking for events in and around Aspen Meadows, Colo. The first thing on her calendar, however, is a birthday party for her son Arch and his friend Drew.
Drew’s mother, Holly Ingleby, and Goldy met and have been friends since the birth of their sons on the same day, at the same hospital. They supported each other through bad times, even forming a support group, Amour Anonymous.
At the suggestion of their sons, they are now co-hosting a Mexican-themed potluck for the boys’ friends and families. The potluck, at the home of friend and Amour Anonymous member Marla, is fun but not without drama.
First Holly arrives visibly upset but is reluctant to go into any detail other than she is in a relationship mess. Then Holly’s ex-husband crashes the party, along with a stranger no one but Holly knows. Tom, Goldy’s police officer husband, escorts out the unwanted guests and all goes smoothly until the end of the party when Holly collapses.
She is dead of an apparent heart attack. Holly had been having puzzling financial difficulties, but Goldy is shocked to find she was living in a rental filled with religious statuary. When a sabotaged deck at the rental collapses and sends Goldy freefalling into a lake, her sleuthing sense goes into overdrive.
An envelope addressed to Drew lured Goldy out onto the deck. Was the intended victim Holly or Drew? When Holly’s heart attack is discovered to be drug-induced, there is a smorgasbord of suspects. Could it be the ex-husband, an ex-lover, the mystery man from the party or the person it appears Holly is blackmailing?
Goldy and Marla comb through Amour Anonymous minutes and conduct their own interviews trying to narrow the suspect pool. Then Father Pete, their priest and Holly’s confidant, is stabbed, a Goldy look-alike is murdered, and Goldy is attacked.
Can our caterer/detective and her rich friend talk, snoop and bribe their way to the one person who wanted Holly Ingleby dead before there is another victim? This book was uneven but got better in the last half then rushed to the end and a surprising epilogue.
Goldy fans will be delighted at the end. If you are not a Goldy fan yet, please start at the beginning of the series, “Catering to Nobody.” I listened to this book, which is also available in print at the library.
Lately I have been doing my reading by ear. I first listened to Daniel Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat,” and it was excellent – my last review did not do this book justice. “Silken Prey” by John Sandford was my next audio choice. It is number 23 in the Prey series and the first I have listened to instead of read. The narrator, Richard Ferrone, perfectly captured Lucas Davenport, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Like the Prey series, I had read all of the previous Goldy Bear books. But unlike my Prey experience, it took half the book before I became used to the narrator’s portrayal of Goldy. The narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, has a raspy voice and used inflections for some of the characters, which was not how I “heard” the voices when I read the earlier novels.
Rosenblat has read all of the previous novels in the series, so perhaps her interpretation is what the author intended. I just know I like my own interpretation of Goldy, and if there is a number 18 in the series I’ll be reading, not listening.