Book Review: Blackberry Crumble by Josi S Kilpack
My first instinct was to blame Ms. Davidson. Previously, Diane Mott Davidson’s series of suspense novels featuring Goldy Schulz– the caterer who is married to a homicide detective– was about my only experience with “culinary mysteries”, apart from a Gourmet Detective series that I definitely did not like and quite panned. Having much enjoyed the Goldy series I welcomed the opportunity to review Josi S. Kilpack’s Blackberry Crumble. But I was very disappointed after the first two chapters which mostly seemed to be about a middle aged woman’s worries over her weight and her boyfriend.
Where Davidson’s Goldy is a professional caterer and down to earth amateur sleuth, Kilpack’s Sadie Hoffmiller is a retired school teacher who enjoys baking cookies and organizes the pot luck dishes at church socials. Like Goldy in the earlier books, Sadie is dating a police detective and has gained some notoriety from her involvement in several previous murder investigations.
It was frustrating to me though that unlike professional chef Goldy, Sadie is definitely an amateur in the kitchen (and this really shows in her recipes; where Davidson provides recipes that are truly gourmet and special, some of Ms. Kilpack’s recipes seemed almost to insult the reader in their simplicity and lack of imagination). Where Goldy always seems to just stumble into mysteries and helps to solve them out of personal motivation, Sadie is hired (despite not being a trained or licensed investigator) to look into a death in a distant city (Portland, Oregon). To be fair, Kilpack’s story did engage me and after a rocky start I read through the 363 page book with increasing interest and did indeed find the story satisfying and the catharsis at the end rather heart-felt. Kilpack did a fairly good job in her portrayal of Portland (a city I am well familiar with) and once her heroine is on the case, the writing is good and the story moves along well.
I suspect that had I not already read more than a dozen of Davidson’s Goldy novels, I might have been a bit less critical of Sadie with her dip of cream cheese, bottled cocktail sauce and canned crab meat. If your taste in cooking and recipes tends more to average housewife fare than to the serious foodie stuff, you may want to give Ms. Kilpack’s book a try. Blackberry Crumble is Recommended to mystery lovers and those with an interest in the Pacific Northwest.