Review: The Whole Enchilada

The Whole Enchilada
The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although this is a review of book number 17 in the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series, this will address the series as a whole as well. Mild Spoilers!

When this series first came out, with Catering to Nobody in 1990, I found it quite fun and enjoyable. Goldie and I shared similar backgrounds and interests and there was an element of humor that lifted my spirits. By the third or fourth book, however, several things about the series became tiresome and downright annoying.

Let’s not forget this entire series takes place in a span of about 6 years (Archie is 11 in book 1 and 17 in book 17).

Let’s start with Aspen Meadows, vying for “Murder Capitol of the World.” They ought to make a reality series called “The Real Housewives of Aspen Meadow” because there is more backstabbing, gossip, lying, treachery, adultery, illegitimacy, nastiness, alcoholism, shallowness, and sheer bitchiness than any reality series out there. NEVER go to a doctor or lawyer in Aspen Meadows. They sleep with their patients/clients, do more “mal” than practice, overcharge, over-prescribe, embezzle, boondoggle, lose rights to practice, and even switch babies (I’m pretty sure that figured in one book). How about the bizarre weather and the road department’s lack of preparedness. It is always snowing/flooding/burning in Aspen Meadows. Dangerous roads are never repaired, closed or cleared. The police are kindly and well-intentioned but useless to abused spouses and unable to solve simple crimes. Perhaps they spend too much time looking after Goldie.

Goldie is obsessed with her abusive ex-husband. She never gets past her victim mentality and continues to allow his emotional abuse as she whines and complains for several years after his death. It’s as if Davidson cannot let her character grow.

Archie is an obnoxious spoiled brat and needs a (figurative) smack upside the head. Goldie caters (no pun intended) to him in a way that insures he will never have a healthy relationship with a woman. And what’s up with not hugging or showing public affection for Archie because he’s a boy and will be embarrassed? Geeze, Goldie, embarrassing your kids is part of parenting.

The supporting characters are one dimensional, including Goldie’s detective husband Tom, who is a caricature of the romance hero. He’s the handsome guy in the background providing support, superlative love-making, handy in the kitchen, with coffee and massages at the drop of a towel. Tom has no needs, no life outside of Goldie and his job to get in the way of the plots. Goldie constantly takes and Tom gives. Even to the ludicrous point of including her in police investigations.

And a word about the recipes. The Dungeon Bars and Gourmet Spinach soup from early books are favorites in my home. But later recipes have become so convoluted, snooty and pretentious I don’t even bother to look at the recipes anymore.

In 6 novel-years (24 real-time years), 17 novels and good Lord I’ve lost count of the deaths, Goldie has learned nothing. She is headstrong, stubborn, careless, unthinking, and selfish. Her curiosity and need to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it comes before anything else in her life. Despite being a supposedly talented and competent caterer who exercises and does yoga, her clumsiness is frequently a plot device. She is constantly falling, having auto accidents, being assaulted, shot, knifed, poisoned, and … have I left anything out? She spends so much time in the hospital she is probably uninsurable at this point.

The review of this book: Predictable, repetitious, and uninteresting. Tom wants to have a baby.

View all my reviews

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