I love the word: diva. It is just a swell word. So, when I saw a murder mystery entitled The Diva Takes the Cake, well, I had to buy it. Diva and food. Hurrah. Authored by Krista Davis, this is her second Prime Crime title. (The first was The Diva Runs Out of Thyme). Oh those punny punny titles. (I think it is thyme to stop is with the puns, but hey, I keep reading and reviewing books with titles like this so who am I to complain?) Her website is called Domestic Diva Mysteries. And, of course, it features a big picture of the cover of The Diva Takes the Cake. The picture of the cover here comes from www.booksonboard.com and so a big Bibliochef thanks to them.
So, I have read a lot of these books by now, and lots of them disappoint. The food (and recipes) are just there to pull a reader in and have nothing to do with the mystery itself. (This unlike some old favorites like Peter King;s Gourmet detective series.) While Davis' book is similar, it is a pretty good mystery and not a bad read. There is a sort of bride-zilla theme running throughout, complete with an ex-fiance and a current groom to be, some Southern posturing (southern United States that is; the book is set in Old Alexandria, Virginia), and an array of oddballs completing the cast. Like some others in the genre, the chapters open with epigrams from fake material authored by characters in the book. And the last few pages are recipes -- including pulled pork and beer bottom chicken. (I feel like a louse; I have absolutely never made anything from teh recipes in all these mysteries. Have you?)
As for the mystery itself, it begins with a body and ends with a solution -- not surprising given the genre! And there are loads of mistaken solutions between start and finish. The oh-so-requireds heterosexual romance(s) are not too distracting and sometimes even funny. And the sibling relationship that forms the center of the plot (no this is not a spoiler) is itself worth pondering (at least if you have a sister). Sophie, the amateur detective type, is a little self-aggrandizing-feeling, though likeable. And she's just the right mix of utterly clueless and smart. The actual solution is a bit far fetched, actually, and can feel like it comes out of the blue -- but meanwhile I was distracted into an ejoyable romp.
Krista Davis is a sort of dog and cat kinda author, and includes a few pet types in her book. (Do not think of them as characters; think of them as occasional cameos). For an "interview" with her Golden Retriever, Queenie, on petsandauthors click here.
For a bit on the word diva, click here. And for an even better idea, click here for Europe's big lesbian manazgine called Diva! (Not that I think this has anything at all to do with Davis's book. Just one of those associations that, well, the web allows. Have fun!)