At one time, Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schultz cozy mystery series was one of my favorites. I eagerly looked forward to each new entry and picked it up on release day. But like so many cozy mystery series, I eventually tired of it – they all sounded a bit too similar – and I haven’t read one in years. When the audio version of this 2007 release, the 14th in the series, became available for review, I decided to give the series a try again in audio format. After listening to Sweet Revenge, I have no desire to continue with the series and, if I do, it won’t be in audio. It’s not the fault of the narrator – the marvelous Barbara Rosenblat – but that the book doesn’t translate well to audio.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Goldy is a caterer married to her second husband Tom, a police officer, with a teenage son from her first marriage to “the jerk.” Over the series, we have been introduced to a host of characters involved with Goldy’s life. Goldy lives in a suburb of Denver and regularly caters to the area’s wealthy, eccentric residents.
One of the first things that struck me is how different Ms. Rosenblat – the longtime narrator of the Amelia Peabody mysteries – sounds here than in her Amelia Peabody efforts. Here, she makes Goldy sound exactly as I expected her to, a fast-talking, middle-aged American woman with a sarcastic bent. The second thing that struck me was how the story seems to take place almost completely in Goldy’s head. In the opening sequences, Goldy rambles on and on about people in her area, her latest catering jobs, her family, etc. After listening for what seemed like hours (admittedly only minutes), I began wondering when the plot would actually start.
Much of the problem seemed to revolve around the fact that Goldy is exhausted and overworked. While Ms. Rosenblat gets the sound of Goldy’s almost manic thoughts correct, it just wasn’t fun to listen to. I found myself longing for dialog and more interaction with other characters. In these monologues, Goldy jumps from subject to subject; after a while they were all just meaningless words to me. If reading in print, I would have skimmed large sections of Goldy’s internal monologues; when listening, that was impossible, making the experience painful.
As usual, when additional characters are thrown into the mix, and dialog actually occurs, Ms. Rosenblat shines, giving unique, appropriate voices to each character.
The plot was particularly weak, so weak that for a long time I couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be. Goldy rushes from catering job to catering job, rattling off thoughts as she goes along. As exhausted as she is, when Goldy sees the supposedly dead woman who killed her evil ex-husband, it’s hard to know if the woman is real or just a symptom of Goldy’s exhaustion. And to be truthful, I just didn’t care.
If you like Ms. Davidson’s series, and haven’t tried them in audio, don’t start here. Perhaps some of her earlier works translate better to audio but I won’t be picking any of them up. At over 11 hours, this was a long, painful experience, and one I have no desire to experience again.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: B+ and Book Content: D
Unabridged. Length – 11 hours 26 minutes