Dark Tort (Culinary Mystery Series #13)

Dark Tort (Culinary Mystery Series #13)

by Diane Mott Davidson

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Overview

Caterer Goldy Schulz's lucrative new gig, preparing breakfasts and conference room snacks for a local law firm, is time-consuming, but she's enjoying it . . . until the night she arrives to find Dusty, the firm's paralegal, dead. The deceased also happened to be Goldy's friend and neighbor, and now Dusty's grieving mother is begging Goldy to find out who murdered her daughter.

Just because the police are on the case doesn't mean Goldy can't do a little snooping herself. While catering a party at the home of one of the firm's lawyers, she just happens to overhear an incriminating conversation. She also discovers a few tasty clues in the kitchen. Before long, Goldy finds herself knee-deep in suspects. But one of them is incredibly dangerous . . . and very liable to cook Goldy's goose.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060527327
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/26/2007
Series: Culinary Mystery Series , #13
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 90,567
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Diane Mott Davidson is the author of seventeen bestselling novels. She divides her time between Colorado and Florida.


Elizabeth Marvel has starred on Broadway, given several award-winning performances off Broadway, and was featured in the TV series The District.

Read an Excerpt

Dark Tort

Chapter One

I tripped over the body of my friend Dusty Routt at half past ten on the night of October 19.

At first I thought it was a joke. Loaded down with bread-making supplies, I had just pushed through the heavy wooden door of Hanrahan & Jule, the boutique law firm in Aspen Meadow where I'd been catering breakfasts for several months. My foot caught and I stumbled forward. I thought, Those H&J clowns are up to something. Again.

The bag of flour I was carrying slid from my hands and exploded on the carpet. Two jars of yeast plummeted onto the coffee table, where they burst into shards and powder. My last bottle of molasses sailed in a wide arc and cracked open on the receptionist's cherrywood desk. A thick wave of sweet, dark liquid began a gluey descent across the phone console. My steel bowl of bread sponge catapulted out of my arms and hit the wall.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to change my own trajectory toward an end table. It was one of two rough-hewn, cabin-style monstrosities that the decorator had thought necessary to make Hanrahan & Jule look like what it claimed to be: "your Rocky Mountain neighborhood law firm!"

I hit the end table, ricocheted over to the desk, cried out, and finally landed on my stomach. I had tripped over I-knew-not-what in a spectacular manner, and now I was prone on an imitation Native American rug. I shrieked, "Very funny, fellas!" But the lawyers who pulled these pranks didn't appear.

I wiped flour out of my eyes and waited for the guys to reveal themselves. When they didn't, I tried to focus on what I could see of the small lobby space. Lamps made of elkhorns sat on the clunky tables. The bentwood couches, which were placed beneath homey paintings of food, were empty. I was lying on a sponge-soaked picture of a tepee. The pain assaulting my tailbone was excruciating.

Gritting my teeth, I figured I was about as upset as any caterer could be, when the bread for the following morning's breakfast has been wrecked the night before. I still hadn't seen what had caused my fall. Nor was there any telltale noise. In fact, the law firm of Hanrahan & Jule was completely quiet.

I'd ended up on the far side of the massive coffee table, a thick column of wood carved, I'd been told, from the trunk of an ancient blue spruce tree. I rubbed my behind and stared at the dark lacquered bark. Had I just stumbled over my own feet? No, I was sure the small cadre of lawyers who were not in Maui this week, ostensibly engaging in continuing education, was responsible for this mishap. I heaved myself onto my back, wondering if the guys -- and that's what all ten H&J lawyers were, guys -- would think this was more funny than when they'd put green food coloring into the cheddar omelettes. Or how about the live moths that had fluttered out of one of my folded tablecloths? And then, oh Lord, then -- there was the gin-switched-for-water in my espresso machine. Soon after that trick, I'd seen one of the partners pouring vodka into the very same machine's water well. I'd used my tray to whack him from behind -- accidentally, of course -- and spewed forty dollars' worth of Stolichnaya across the firm's huge kitchen.

Staring at the ceiling, I sighed. Now that my flour, yeast, molasses, and sponge were kaput, was the partner who'd ordered the breakfast going to run out and buy freshly baked loaves for his Friday-morning meeting with clients? I doubted it very much. I wrenched my body around to survey the damage.

And there, sprawled on the far side of the coffee table, was Dusty Routt.

In addition to being a friend, Dusty was our neighbor. She was also in training to become the firm's second paralegal, and she often got drafted into playing a part in these high jinks. At the very least, she was sometimes pressed into trying to cover them up, as I'd discovered after the spiked-coffee affair, when I'd caught her disposing of a plastic bag holding two empty gin bottles. "Orders from King Richard," Dusty had whispered conspiratorially. "He says I have to get rid of the evidence. Without you catching me, that is," she'd added with a characteristic giggle as she slammed the Dumpster lid shut. Since King Richard was Dusty's uncle, Richard Chenault, the same partner whose Stoly I later disposed of, I knew a confrontation was out of the question. Just this past August, Richard's secretary had been summarily fired when she'd had the audacity -- or stupidity -- to send a locket engraved for Richard's mistress to his, uh, wife. Richard's wife, a doctor named K.D., had promptly filed for divorce.

I stared at Dusty's back, waiting. I couldn't see her face. Still, I knew it was Dusty. There was her highlighted-at-home hair; there was the like-new beige Calvin Klein suit she was wearing. I'd actually found the suit for her at Aspen Meadow's secondhand store. Now I wanted to hear her high, joyful voice as she jumped up to cry, "Surprise!" I anticipated a trio of attorneys leaping out from behind the receptionist's desk and squealing, "Gotcha!"

But I still couldn't hear anything at all.

"Dusty!" I whispered hoarsely. "Get up. Gag's over."

She didn't move. I did finally hear something, but it was only the steady plink plop of beaten egg dripping onto one of the end tables. My gaze shifted from Dusty to where the sponge liquid had first landed, on Charlie Baker's painting of peach pie, one of three of his famous pictures of food that adorned the lobby walls. The frame was broken. Had I done that to dear, departed Charlie Baker's artwork?

Charlie Baker. I swallowed. Don't go there, I ordered myself. But then I squinted at some splotches and drips that had stained the painted pie, with its list of ingredients meticulously penned underneath . . .

Dark Tort. Copyright © by Diane Davidson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Dark Tort 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all the books in the series, and this will be my last. How odd that a sledge hammer was a feature in the book, because that's how I felt about the entire thing...hammer into the reader's head the same thing over and over again just in case we're too blind to see it. Add the charm of a wet noodle, absolutely no humor, plenty of whining and self pity and more references to past books than actual plot then drag it all down to a snail's pace and it all adds up to one incredibly boring book. You know whodunit and why withing the first 50 pages, and by the end when Goldy does her usual act of extreme stupidity (and you just know how she'll be saved this time) you don't really care. By the end of the book the only character I could still stomach was Julian. Maybe it's time to drop Goldy and follow this young man...he seems to be the only one with a brain and compassion and can still function in the face of disaster, with a smile.
Stewartry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the ones I¿d missed was Dark Tort (about lawyers, and also cake ¿ puns are de rigeur in cozies¿ titles), which is what I¿m reading now¿ NOT one of the better ones. I think in the whole of FF DMD managed to avoid one little quirk of hers which appears in nearly every other book, which always makes me roll my eyes so hard I¿m afraid they¿ll get stuck. In Dark Tort (Goldy Culinary Mysteries, Book 13), it¿s: ¿My mouth watered as I placed the potato puff on a plate. With the first bite, I almost swooned.¿ She ¿almost swoons¿ a lot. Don¿t get me wrong ¿ I plan on making the potato puffs. I just gag a little every time she ¿almost swoons¿. Reading about writing has made me much more aware of how characters are described. DMD¿s Goldy books are also first-person, and Goldy ¿ looks in mirrors now and then. Oh dear. The writing in these really does vary wildly in quality. This one ¿ Um. Waitaminnit ¿ there¿s no recipe for the potato puffs? This one sucks.
kymmayfield on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another very intriguing read in these series. A great mystery/thriller as usual. The series has yet to disappoint me.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the last Diane Mott Davidson book I read. I really cannot stand the main character, Goldy. She is very unrealistic, all over the map in her personality, and if I were Arch, I would be glum and withdrawn too. Goldy managed to make all of the evidence inadmissible in court in this book, and why her husband, a supposedly fine detective doesn't tell her this, I don't know. Even the cooking is frenetic. O.K., it's possible I'm being just a bit harsh, I do like Tom and reading about the recipes, but that's not enough to make me read any more of these books, the mysteries suck.
MuseofIre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost didn't buy this because her last book sucked so much. This one wasn't nearly as bad, but still wasn't that good. The main problems with this one is that Goldy has no plausible reason to be involved with the investigation, that she goes about it in such a haphazard way, and she leaves the vital clue lying around for a week, only to discover it just as the killer comes to polish her off. Then there's the fact that she and her husband Tom have multiple conversations where they tell each other things they should already know, and the strained dialog (like when Goldy asks a young woman if the murdered girl had had any "romantic liaisons"). I really enjoyed this series more when Goldy had real obstacles to overcome and her involvement with the murders was more immediate and personal.
ConstanceWalton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Goldie is teaching Rusty Rourt, an energetic young woman, aspiring para-legal, to cook. The evening they are to meet, Goldie finds her dead in the law office where she works. Goldie continues her life and catering as she works to solve the problem of Rusty's death. In addition, she is trying to figure out how her friend, Charlie Baker's famous culinary paintings are not quite right as she attempts to bake his recipe for Journey Cake from one of his later paintings. The other cast of characters are woven into the plot...Arch now learning to drive, and of course Gus comes often to visit and Julian just happens to come to help out. Fun.
hklibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of Diane's better efforts. It felt as if she had been sleepwalking while writing her last couple of novels. Yet this one showed a renewed verve and excitement, right down to the end.
MsBeautiful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this Goldy Bear Book better than the last 2. Goldy seems more in control of her life and her relationship with Arch seemed more belivable.
AnnCarol More than 1 year ago
Loved the mystery and how they incorporated cooking into the story.
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Although this is't my favorite book in the series, it was still entertaining & had an exciting ending.
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Davidson never fails to both intrigue, entertain and certainly widen our recipe files. May she never stop. I loved this one
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