Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Diva Spices It Up by Krista Davis

Sometimes, reading is up and down during this Covid-19 time. (I don't even know what to call it because I'm back at work, so it's not quarantine or social isolation. Crisis?) All of that to say Krista Davis' Domestic Diva mysteries can always get me out of a slump. I sailed through her latest one, The Diva Spices It Up.

Sophie Winston is looking forward to a break. The self-employed event planner has been working out-of-town for three weeks, and she just needs some downtime, She's a little leery when her ex-husband, Mars, asks if she'll take over the job of ghostwriting a cookbook for a former TV star whose husband is a politician and Mars' client. The former ghostwriter just quit the job on the previous Friday. Sophie's doesn't know what it entails, but she agrees to consider it. She's even more willing to consider it after seeing the amount of money offered. Then, when tiles fall off the wall in the bathroom of her historic house in Old Town Alexandria, she knows she could use the money. So, she agrees to meet with Tilly Stratford.

Sophie has a few distractions, though. Her sometimes friend/sometimes rival, Natasha, is throwing a party for a half-sister she only discovered after a DNA test. Then, there's the fisherman who brings up a suitcase, with Sophie's help. And, she witnesses a well-dressed man reach into a trash can, and grab a soda can before proceeding on his walk. It all seems a little off to Sophie. But, when she discovers Natasha's newly discovered sister lying in the bushes, beaten almost to death, it leads to more trouble.

After meeting with Tilly, the celebrity writing the cookbook, and learning Tilly's neighbor went missing on Friday, Sophie wants to meet with the ghostwriter who quit the job. She gathers up her best friend, Nina, and the two go looking. Their discovery of the missing ghostwriter's cat leads them to call for a welfare check. When the police check, the house becomes a crime scene. And, it turns out that Mars was on a date with the woman the last night she was seen.

Krista Davis' Domestic Diva mysteries always have interesting plots, domestic tips, and enticing recipes. But, once you've read one or two, it's the characters that draw a reader back. Sophie is kind, even when dealing with Natasha. She still has a good relationship with her ex. The scenes when she feeds her friends, often in the early morning, as they discuss the current murder investigation and suspects are cozy, warm scenes, despite the subject matter under discussion. And, the small group of friends are supportive of each other.

Grand Master Carolyn Hart once said that Raymond Chandler used the words cozy mysteries as a pejorative term, as an insult to the mysteries written by Agatha Christie. In Krista Davis' case, the term cozy mystery is used as a compliment. The Diva Spices It Up is a cozy, warm mystery in the best sense of the word.

Krista Davis' website is

The Diva Spices It Up by Krista Davis. Kensington Books, 2020. ISBN 9781496714749 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.


Rosemary said...

Hi Lesa - that sounds just the sort of thing I need! I will look it up here.

I get cross when people write off books as 'cozy' or 'chicklit' - the novels to which they refer are often better written, and certainly more popular, than the highbrow stuff they go on about. I think it's good to read widely in all types of literature. And, especially at the moment, but really at any time, I think people should read whatever makes them feel better. I really enjoyed that last Jenny Colgan I read, as I did the Debbie Macomber's first Cedar Cove book, and I don't care what people think. My much loved Maeve Binchy is another writer who is, so unfairly in my opinion, often written off.

I am just finishing Ghost Trees, which is excellent, but after that I think it will be time for a light read.

I hope you're having a good day,


Lesa said...

Thank you, Rosemary! And, I totally agree with you. Because I read for character, I often enjoy the characters and character development in these books much more than in books some people think are "better". Most thrillers, not all, have little character development. But, over the course of a book, and, more often a series, the characters do develop in these mysteries. You know who I read when I was a teen? I always loved the Miss Read books. I know they were probably considered fluff, but I loved the return to the same small villages and characters in those books. They were definitely comfort reads, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Rosemary said...

Oh yes! I also read a lot of Miss Read books back then - and I have one ('The School at Thrush Green') on my TBR pile right now, as part of my Place Names reading project. I think they are making a bit of a comeback. I saw some nice hardback copies in the Oxfam bookshop but they were expensive.

I love reading about villages and their characters (probably why I am a lifelong Archers addict too). The other thing I enjoy more than the actual plots is the setting - finding out about how people live their daily lives in other countries (like Donna Leon's Venice, Philipe Georget's Perpignan or Debbie Macomber's Seattle).

Another author I read a lot of as a teenager was Doreen Tovey - she wrote gentle non-fiction about her life in a Somerset village with her husband and their animals, in particular a long procession of Siamese cats, but also at one point a donkey. The other characters in the village were also fun. In her later years Tovey became the patron of the Cats Protection charity.

SandyG265 said...

I have this one on my wishlist

Netteanne said...

You got me hooked on this series with a review earlier this year or late last year. I think they are great. I have not necessarily been reading them in order. Will soldier on until I have read all of them.

Jenn McKinlay is another author, who for me at least, offers the same get away from it all feeling.

Hope work is going well, no idea when our library is going to open, they keep moving the books on hold up to a further out date, now it is June 15.

Lesa said...

Rosemary, I've read some of Doreen Tovey's books about her Siamese cats. I never read the one about the donkey, though. Now is a perfect time for Miss Read's books to make a comeback. I agree. Books set in villages can be comfort reads, and, like you, I enjoy seeing how people live or lived there.

Lesa said...

You'll get it eventually, Sandy. Everything is just taking so much longer right now, but I guess we' have time.

Lesa said...

Netteanne, My favorite in the series is the Halloween one, The Diva Haunts the House. I just like the tips in that one.

Bonnie K. said...

For me, there are times for cozy mysteries. After some serious reads, I'm in the mood for light and funny reads.