This book is the first installment of a series introducing mystery-solving caterer Goldy Bear.

I had never read a book from this series before and I decided to start with the first one. Gertrude Bear, nicknamed Goldy for her blond curly hair, has set up a catering business (Goldilocks catering) in Aspen Meadows, Colorado, after a difficult divorce from her abusive ex-husband John Richard Korman, also known as the Jerk. Mother of a secretive and nerdy eleven year old, Arch, Goldy tries to pay the rent and groceries with the money earned by organizing the food for parties. The coming season, between Halloween and Christmas, should bring a lot of money, since numerous parties are scheduled…

But unfortunately, when Goldy caters a wake, things turn out quite unexpectedly. The deceased, Laura Smiley, was Arch’s favorite teacher; they had a special relationship. Since her death, Arch is even more withdrawn, even less talkative. Moreover, during the wake, the Jerk, who makes an apparition with his new fiancée, a geometry teacher, manages to insult Goldy. Things go from bad to worse when Friz Korman, Goldy’s ex-father-in-law, is moaning in pain after drinking Goldy’s coffee. He has to be rushed to hospital…

Detective Tom Schulz forces Goldy to close her business down until the police find who poisoned the coffee. Goldy, whose means of living is endangered and who has to clean people’s houses to make ends meet, thinks the police aren’t fast enough, therefore she decides to take matters into her own hands. When she is not cooking to alleviate her worries, she pries into people’s lives, uses one or two illegal means to uncover a couple of secrets on people she thought she knew. She even begins to question Laura’s death as a suicide…

The originality of this series is of course to have a caterer who cooks and solves mysteries. Some of her recipes are featured in the book, and even though I am more of the cook-under-30-minutes type, I could enjoy reading about all the yummy food. (I might even try the easiest recipe; the Holy Moly Guacamole, to see if it makes an interesting alternative to my own recipe). Beware, the recipes are usually very high calorie!

Beside this fun stuff, I also liked the characters, even if they are quite stereotyped (it is not so disturbing in a mystery series anyway). There is also a bit of romance as Goldy tries to seduce the handsome but inaccessible Pomeroy, a beekeeper, while Schulz, the detective, openly flirts with her. As for the plot itself, it was a bit too straightforward for my taste, nothing really surprising here. Still, I think I will read more Goldy’s mysteries when I am looking for something light, since I enjoyed reading this one…

Rating: 3/5