Catering to Nobody (Culinary Mystery Series #1)

Catering to Nobody (Culinary Mystery Series #1)

by Diane Mott Davidson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553584707
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/26/2002
Series: Culinary Mystery Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 97,351
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 4.32(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Diane Mott Davidson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series. She has been named Writer of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has received the Anthony Award and the Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award. Born in Honolulu and educated at Wellesley, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins, she worked as a volunteer rape victim counselor, a tutor in a correctional facility, and in several roles in the church before she turned to writing. Diane and her husband have three sons and three grandchildren, and split their time between Colorado and Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Catering a wake was not my idea of fun. First of all, there was the short notice. A person died. Three days later there was a funeral. In this case the body had been discovered on a Monday, autopsy Tuesday, funeral Saturday, seven days after the presumed day of death. In Colorado we didn’t call the buffet after the funeral a wake. But whether you called it a reception or coming over for a bite to eat afterward, it still meant food for forty mourners.

I dumped a mound of risen dough as soft as flesh onto the oak countertop. Eating, I reflected, was a way of denying death. I had known her. I did not want to think about it now. My fingers modeled soft dough around dill sprigs, then dropped the little rolls onto a baking sheet, where they looked like rows of miniature green-and-white sofa pillows. This was the last two dozen. I rubbed bits of yeasty mixture off my hands and let cold water gush over them.

A professional caterer has to keep her mind on the job, not the reason for the job. October was generally a slow month for parties in Aspen Meadow. Despite the fact that Goldilocks’ Catering, Where Everything Is Just Right! provided the town’s only professional food service, making a living here was always a precarious enterprise. Like it or not, I needed the income from this postfuneral meal.

Still. I would rather have had Laura Smiley alive. She had been Arch’s fifth-grade teacher last year. She also had taught him third, when he was recovering from the divorce. They had become special friends, had worked on games and outdoor projects. They had written letters over the summers. I could picture Laura Smiley with my son, her arm around his slender shoulders, her cascade of brown-blond curls just touching the top of his head.

Psychologists and social workers had come into the elementary school to work with the students after the news of Ms. Smiley’s death broke on Monday. Arch had not spoken much about it. I did not know what the counselors had said to him, nor he to them. All during the week he had come home from school, taken snack food into his room, and closed the door. Sometimes I could hear him on the phone, acting as dungeon master or playing television trivia games. Perhaps losing Ms. Smiley was not much on his mind. It was hard to tell.

But now because of her death we had this job, which would help pay the bills for October. Laura Smiley’s aunt from Illinois, acting in place of parents long dead, had ordered the food and sent me an express mail cheque for eight hundred dollars. This covered my second problem, usually my first, and that was money.

Above the steel hand-washing sink, one of several required by the county for commercial food service, the booking calendar showed only two parties between tomorrow, October tenth, and the thirty-first. Clearing four hundred dollars on each of those plus four hundred for tomorrow’s buffet would take us to the Halloween-to-Christmas season, where I made almost enough money to get Arch and me through May. Long ago I had learned to stop depending on regular child support payments from Arch’s father, even if he did have an ob-gyn practice with an income as dependable as procreation. The payments were invariably wrong and invariably late. But arguments between us were bad for Arch and dangerous for me. Peace was worth a lower income. I stared grimly at the calendar. Lots of parties between Halloween and Christmas. That was the ticket to financial security.

Problem number three after short notice and money was getting all the supplies for a job. My meat and produce supplier was doing an extra run for me because she, too, had known the financial strains of single motherhood. Her truck was supposed to be rumbling up from Denver right now bringing a salmon and out-of-season asparagus and strawberries. After she delivered them, she’d give me a lecture on going out. She’d say, It’s not that tough to have fun. But tough was like a roll in the microwave. I didn’t have time for a harangue about my social life because in addition to needing the supplies, I’d just used the last of the honey to make the rolls. This meant the muffins were on hold. The local honey supplier was a handsome fellow named Pomeroy, lusted after by every unattached woman in the county, a fact my supplier usually did not fail to mention. Unfortunately Pomeroy had said he wouldn’t be able to get over for a while to resupply my stock. The unusually warm weather had brought out a predator that had raided one of the hives. And he had his hands full.

Of what, I had wanted to say, but hadn’t. Sugar would do for the muffins.

The phone rang.

Goldilocks’ Catering,” I said into the receiver, “where everything is just...

“Spare me the greeting, Goldy,” came the voice of Alicia, my supplier. “I called Northwest Seafood. Fish’s all yours.”

“You’re great.”

She mm-hmmed and then said nothing.

I said, “What is it?”

“How well did you know this Laura?”

“She was Arch’s teacher. For a couple of grades.”

“Young?”

“Early forties,” I said. “She acted young.” I paused. “I knew her.”

She grunted and said she would be up in an hour.

I opened the refrigerator, a walk-in needed for the business. John Richard Korman, my ex-husband, had found the cost of this item ridiculous. Ditto the van and the required new sinks and shelves to store food above insect level. Other purchases out of my sixty-thousand-dollar divorce settlement had included a six-burner stove, extra oven and freezer, and enough cooking equipment to outfit Sears. Retrofitting our old house off Aspen Meadow’s Main Street had not been terribly difficult.

What had been difficult was hanging up on John Richard’s alternately shrieking and pleading voice, and then finally getting the locks changed when he had shown up repeatedly to do one of two things. At first, even though we were separated, he would try to seduce me. Sometimes successfully, I was ashamed to admit. Or he would start a fight to demonstrate his opposition to my financial independence.

And by demonstrate, I don’t mean like Gandhi.

In the walk-in I reached for the butter, eggs, and cream. I backed out and whacked the door with my foot, then regarded my balancing act in the mirror-black surface. Blond curly hair. Freckles on a face unbruised for three years. Brown eyes. These stared back at me, saying, Don’t think about it now, just cook. At thirty I was doing okay, single but with good friends, and only slightly pudgy from all the fancy cooking that made the living for Arch and me.

But I was preparing a wake for someone I’d known. Early forties. Also single. Had been.

For the dessert shortcakes I used an old trick: make giant scones. Another thing I’d learned in this business: involve the clients with the food. Make the spread good to look at, smell, touch, taste. Gauge action by needs. At a bridal shower, don’t give the guests much to do with the food since they’re already involved with the presents. But keeping people active at a wake was essential. Being busy, like working, allayed grief. By splitting cakes and heaping on berries and cream, the mourners could start to get their minds off death. Getting one’s mind off it. Not easy.

Laura had smiled broadly and flourished papers with Arch’s drawings of mountain wildlife at our parent conferences, which I’d always attended alone, as John Richard couldn’t be bothered. Arch is so talented, Laura had said, one of the most unusual students I’ve ever had. It’s too bad he doesn’t have more friends.

The food processor blade whirred and bit through the butter and flour. Soon the kitchen would smell divine. Arch could have a hot scone when he came in from school. Maybe he would eat it in the kitchen instead of heading off to his room. The phone rang again.

Goldilocks...” I began, but was interrupted.

“Shut up, it’s me!” shouted Marla Korman, John Richard’s other ex-wife, now a good friend of mine. “Arch home yet?”

I strained to see out the window that overlooked Main Street, then listened for the bus. Yellow aspen leaves as bright as lemon disks shook in the warm breeze. No children’s shouts announced the bus’s afternoon rounds. Instead there was only the roar of a motorcycle and the rushing sound of Cottonwood Creek, already frigid with October snow melt from the high mountains.

I said, “Not yet. Ten minutes or so.”

“I’ve been shopping,” Marla said, “because I don’t want to think about Laura. The stores are empty now that the tourists have gone. They didn’t leave much.”

“Maybe we didn’t have much in the first place,” I said.

“This place,” wailed Marla.

I poured a cup of coffee and steeled myself for the coming barrage of complaints. The town would be the warm-up for the ex-husband.

She said, “How demoralizing to live in a terminally quaint western village.” I made sympathetic noises.

“Of course, I don’t know why I would need a size sixteen cowgirl dress anyway,” Marla complained, “since I’m not coming to this shindig tomorrow. The Jerk’s going to be there, isn’t he?”

“He certainly is,” I said. “But I’m leaving the rolling pin at home.”

Bad joke, but we chuckled anyway. The Jerk was what Marla had dubbed our mutual ex, for his personality and his initials, J.R.K. Marla so intensely disliked seeing John Richard that it was hard to understand why she talked about him so much. Seven months after my divorce was final, John Richard ended a fling with a married woman who sang in the church choir and wedded Marla’s bulk and wealth. They were divorced fifteen months later and she and I promptly became partners in anger. But before that point Marla’s disgust with his extramarital antics had ballooned her up another thirty pounds, weight she’d used to good advantage when he came at her with a rolling pin. She had managed to heave him into a hanging plant, dislocating his shoulder.

I looked down at my right thumb, which still would not bend properly after John Richard had broken it in three places with a hammer.

“That rolling pin,” Marla was saying between giggles, “that damn rolling pin. You could use it to fix him green tomato pie.”

What People are Saying About This

Sue Grafton

"Delicious...cleaver, well constructed, with an engaging cast of characters...sure to satisfy."

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Catering to Nobody 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please put this on the nook, you have the others so why not this one??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
would be great if this was available for the Nook - wonder why not? all the others from the series are -
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why isn't this available on the Nook? Annoying....its available on other ebook devices!
Foxxsden More than 1 year ago
I love this book but why is it the only one in the set NOT on Nook?? I mean it is the first one....grrr
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This first book was a fun, easy to follow read. The herione, Gold Bear, has a silly name which made it difficult to take her seriously. The story line was entertaining & the added recipes throughout the book were a bonus. I'm on my 3rd book in the series now!
CookingWiz More than 1 year ago
This book was a lot of fun combining the antics in the kitchen with the mystery at hand. Definitely a fun read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Goldy Shultz series in less than a year, I just found Diane's books last spring at the library and was addicted immediately! I can't wait to see what she can come up with in the next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Catering to Nobody had me hooked from the beginning. Just when you think you've got things all figured out, the author throws a surprising twist in the plot. I was glued to the pages and it was a very entertaining and fast read.
wildseakitten on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I read this on a recommendation of a friend of mine. She has read all of the books by this author and loved them. I'm not a big mystery fan.. but this was not a bad read for me. I'll probably read the other ones too... just because. I'll read them in order no doubt.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 24 days ago
From the beginning this was a bit too cutesy for me. The first person narrator and protagonist, "Goldy Bear" is a caterer in Aspen Meadow, Colorado, and her motto is "just right." At regular intervals we get complete recipes like "Dungeon Bars" and "Wild Man Wild Rice." Also, the romantic interest is the detective, Tom Schulz, investigating a poisoning in which Goldie suspected. He had the power it seemed, to close down her business until someone is arrested--but he doesn't hesitate to date her, bring her into the investigation, and condone her breaking and entering. I'm sorry, not only does this plain bug me, but I feel this is basically cheating when an amateur or private detective would do this--nor can I see a police officer condoning it since, among other things, in the United States any evidence found that way couldn't be used in court. And doing things like that puts Goldie in the Too Stupid To Live category. I do like Goldie's eleven year old son, Art--he seems like a real boy for once--not just played for cuteness. Beyond that, although I found Goldy likable, I didn't feel anything about the book lifted it above routine. Good recipes make a fine cookbook, but they're not enough to make for a tasty mystery. Hell, they were annoying, right smack in the middle of scenes and even sentences rather than at the beginning or end of chapters like in Like Water for Chocolate or at the end of the book.
miyurose on LibraryThing 24 days ago
It feels like forever ago that I read this, so my memory is a little sketchy. I definitely did like it, though I skipped over most of the recipes. I liked Goldy and her messy life and sullen son. You have to admire a woman who isn¿t afraid of a little hard work when things are working out her way. She does everything she can to clear her name and reopen her catering business, even if it isn¿t very wise. I was amused by Tom¿s persistence in getting to know Goldy, and I look forward to seeing more of both of them in the next book.
LoraBee33 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
This is the first in a series about Goldy, a caterer, who gets involved in one murder mystery after another. Her recipes are a bonus. :) The character personalities and dialogue are lively and fun right from the start. By the end of the book I couldn't wait to read the next, still looking forward to more!
chikkagrl on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Love this series. I would highly recommended it to any foodie who also likes mysteries.
kymmayfield on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Great book, I really enjoyed it. Nice start to a series that i will definatley continue. The characters were very personable. In the first book you become attached almost like they are family. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries.
MsBeautiful on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Enjoy this character, love hearing about cooking/recipes
izzyharvey on LibraryThing 5 months ago
*spoilers*Sue Grafton recommends on the cover... so I thought I'd give it a whirl... adequate, not special as a mystery... I am incredibly tired of the protagonist who's clueless... as if there weren't other ways to clue in the reader... protagonist claims to be a second-wave feminist... written in 1990, so I guess that's where feminism was, but strange and cardboard with Our Bodies, Ourselves and unshaved legs... how feminist is it for the protagonist to feel for a young, fairly stupid girl who was raped by her doctor, that now she was about to start the hard road of motherhood... um, maybe there are other options for her? ...and why is the abortion doctor a rapist/killer/child molester?
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
The first in the series, caterer Goldy Bear is upset when her former father-in-law is poisoned at a funeral she is catering. When the police shut her down, she starts digging to find out who did it. I thought the characters were well formed and interesting, but the plot moved a little slow and I had some trouble believing how much the police told her.
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Love Diane Mott Davidson; I've read all of her books; this was the last one I read; nothing like starting at the end instead of the beginning. And I've tried many of her recipes, which are keepers!
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