The Whole Enchilada, the 17th book in Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series, is the apparent conclusion to the series. The story stumbles to a rather too-simple conclusion to a series for which I had somewhat higher hopes. Readers of the series may as well finish it out with The Whole Enchilada, but don't expect to be fulfilled at the end.
As with the previous installments in the series, main character Goldy the caterer stumbles into The Whole Enchilada and, despite being distracted by the supposedly scrumptious food she and her assistant make, by the end is hospitalized for injuries she carelessly and rather ridiculously sustained while solving the central mystery in the book. The reason I stuck with a series that I will admit is no feat of excellent writing or surprising plot lines is Davidson's exploration of spousal abuse, recovery of self-esteem and ultimate empowerment. Sadly, Davidson seemed to have lost that plot in the long interim since the first book in the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series, leaving readers with too-light plots and predictable stories. By the end of The Whole Enchilada, I didn't really care who committed the murders - I just wanted it to be over. The ending, clearly meant to provide readers with a happy and fulfilling conclusion to Goldy's story, instead seemed forced - a rushed, too-simple happy ending to what should have been a much more nuanced story of Goldy's journey to empowerment.
Readers of the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series may as well finish it out with The Whole Enchilada, but it is a weak finish to a series that started with much more promise. I have tried some of the recipes in the previous books and found them quite bland, so I doubt I'll bother with Davidson's planned Goldy Bear cookbook. Ultimately, Davidson let readers down with The Whole Enchilada.
Read this review and more on The Library Lass Book Talk Blog.