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 www.kristadavis.com
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.