The Cereal Murders by Diane Mott Davidson
Originally published in May 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.
This is the third in a series of mysteries that combine cooking and crime, as amateur sleuth and professional caterer Goldy Bear serves up one delicious dish after another while sleuthing on the side. In this installation, Goldy has been hired to cater a series of events at an expensive prep school. The peace is disrupted by two murders (a third appears to be connected), and someone starts harassing her and her son. Through it all Goldy serves up one delectable dish after another (recipes included) and observes the graduating students and their parents battling it out over who deserves to go to which exclusive university. It’s a matter of touch and go whether Goldy will manage to solve the mystery in time to prevent a fourth murder.
As in most amateur sleuthing series, the murders and the murderer’s methods are highly unlikely - especially how it is Goldy who finds two out of three bodies - but the characters are rounded and the surroundings realistic for the most part. The descriptions of the cold and snowy weather, for example, are positively chilling. There is a touch of realism in this book that I have not seen in many others of its kind, in that Goldy actually feels wretched after finding the bodies, has difficulty sleeping and is offered therapy by the police at the end of the story. Her relationships with her son, her lodger/assistant and her lover, are realistic - things are not always sunny, but neither are they always bad.
The title, in my opinion, stinks. It’s a good example of a bad title: cutesy, punny (to say nothing of cheesy) and not much connected with the story. If the rather clumsy homophonic pun is ignored, it doesn’t even make sense. Which cereals were murdered? Was cereal involved in the murders somehow? (it was not). Someone, I hope not the author, deserves to be flogged with a wet noodle for inventing such a lame title. Some of the other titles in the series are just as offensive, while others actually manage to be quite clever.
Rating: A nice, slow murder mystery to cool you down on a hot summer’s day. Don’t let the cheesy title deter you from reading it. 3+ stars.