Monday, January 25, 2016

Dark Tort

First genre in my Adult Lit class is Mystery!  I like mysteries but I lean more towards a grittier mystery type.  I blame my mother who introduced me to Ed McBain's 87th Precinct at an early age....  I like Winspear's Maisie Dobbs; Louise Penny's Three Pines mysteries; and even Tana French's mysteries that are set in Dublin.  But I felt I should read something else so I chose a "cozy" mystery.   

 Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson. It was published April 11th 2006 by William Morrow and the ISBN is 0060527315 (ISBN13: 9780060527310).

Dark Tort is the 13th book in Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Culinary Mystery series. Goldy Bear (now Schulz) is a caterer in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. She is headed in to prepare breakfast at her current cooking gig - a local law firm – when she literally stumbles over the body of young paralegal-in-training, Dusty Routt. She immediately attempts CPR but it’s too late – Dusty is already dead. Dusty was not only someone Goldy knew at the law firm; she was a friend and a neighbor. Dusty’s mother pleads with Goldy to figure out who killed poor Dusty. The rest of the book revolves around Goldy somewhat surreptitiously assisting the local police in the investigation of Dusty’s murder. Was it Dusty’s ex-boyfriend Vic? Or one of the wealthy lawyers at the firm? Or maybe, just maybe, a jealous wife? And what’s up with Bishop Uriah and his sticky fingers? And the insufferable office manager, Lousie Upton?  Lots of red herrings and dead ends in this light-hearted mystery that comes to a satisfying conclusion when one man’s (or woman’s) trash holds the key to solving the murder.

Dark Tort fits the mystery description in our textbook perfectly!  It has a murder, an investigation with lots of clues, and great character development of the investigator and suspects.  I would classify it as a cozy mystery with an amateur sleuth, caterer Goldy Bear Schulz.  It has the added element of including recipes so that makes it a cozy, culinary mystery.  Goldy’s husband, Tom, and her son, Arch, are prominent characters in the story but her best friend, Marla, also plays an important role.  Friend and mentor Charlie Baker also provides an important piece of the puzzle – even though he has recently died. I have not read the other books in the series, but I would assume that each of these characters plays a more prominent role in other books. Davidson also painted a vivid picture of late October in Colorado.  At least, the portion near Denver.

I did enjoy the story - eventually - but I won't rush out and read the other books in the series.  It took me a while to get hooked into the story. I found Goldy likable but it is a very light read – something that would be good for a beach vacation or a long plane ride.  Maybe after I finish my degree, I might go back and revisit the fictional Aspen Meadow, Colorado and see what else Goldy cooks up.  Be forewarned –  don’t read these books on an empty stomach or when beginning a diet!  The description of the potato and sausage casserole made my stomach grumble with hunger pangs.  I would recommend this series to anyone who has read other cozy mysteries and enjoyed them - especially if they liked the ones that centered around food!

People who enjoy reading fictional books about Colorado, such as books by Kent Haruf, might enjoy the setting of this mystery series. Also, readers of cooking memoirs such as Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell or Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti might find them to be a good match.

And the winners are...

Yes, believe it or not - it is that time again.  No, not the Globe and Academy!  The Youth Services Media Awards!  Newbery, Caldecott, etc. There are always surprises with the awards.  Lots of congratulations; lots of grumbling.  Fifteen people spend a year reading books, and rereading books, and finding new books to read.  While we enjoy TV, movies, vacations, reading for pleasure, etc. committee members are reading an average of 250 books to find the few that are worthy of an award for going above and beyond.  Kudos to those brave souls!

I was happy with the winners this year.  I thought it was great that a picture book – The Last Stop on Market Street - won the Newbery and also very happy that it went to Matt de la Peña – the first Hispanic author to win. I really liked Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley but it was not on any of the lists. I might have chosen that instead of Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan. But I loved, loved, loved The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and was thrilled it received an Honor. And how great is it that Roller Girl, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, picked up an honor?  

I loved Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. There’s an interesting discussion on Mr. Schu’s site about the cover that you might want to check out. I have read Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and Last Stop on Market Street, (yes - it won a Caldecott Honor in addition to a Newbery) illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de le Peña. Again – I thought they were all great books. I have Trombone Shorty on my TBR pile.

As usual, I have not read any of the Michael L. Printz award winners - they are YA Lit. 

Bone Gap written by Laura Ruby was the winner. It is in my pile of books waiting to be read.
Two Printz Honor Books also were named: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez and  The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick. I loved Revolver by Sedgwick but his more recent works are a bit darker/spooky.  So I have not read this one.

My favorite selection was a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book - The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Please get your hands on a copy of this book and read it. Actually, read all of the Coretta Scott King winners this year.  Read Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia, the third book in the Gaither Sisters series.  I promise you will fall in love with Delphine and her sisters.  Read Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and Last Stop on Market Street (yep - it won a King award also!)  They will rattle your world and make you look at things from a different perspective.

The only award I truly disagreed with was the Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book. Don’t Throw It to Mo!, written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks, won and I just wasn't impressed with the book. It was OK but I thought A Pig, a Fox, and a Box,  written and illustrated by Jonathan Fenske and Supertruck written and illustrated by Stephen Savage were better. I have been raving about Supertruck for many months so I was truly happy to see it receive something. Should have won! 
And now - school has started again so this blog may look a bit different over the next few months.  Hang in there!  I'm taking an adult literature and services class plus a History of Youth Services class.  I'll be reading a lot of different books from a lot of different genres!