- Mass Market Paperback: 163 pages
- Publisher: Ivy Books (October 24, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080410929X
- ISBN-13: 978-0804109291
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 553 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,083,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sourdough Wars (A Rebecca Schwartz Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – October 24, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
In this second fast-paced Rebecca Schwartz mystery, rival bakers compete for a batch of sourdough starter, and the staff of life becomes the stuff of death.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
r to the Martinelli family's renowned sourdough starter is murdered before they were to auction it off, Rebecca Schwartz is determined to discover if he died for a handful of dough. The more she sifts through the tangled relationships of the city's bread-making dynasties, though, the closer she gets to the recipe for murder....
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Rob was a jerk for running out at a time like that, but he was my man and he was in hip-deep trouble. Before Larson knew what hit him, I was on his back like a monkey on a junkie's.
If you can read these two sentences and still want to read the book then go for it.
Well written and fast paced, the book features Rebecca, a Jewish attorney who handles criminal and divorce cases but finds herself roped into proctoring the auction sale of a notoriously famous sourdough culture that was the mainstay of a popular (and now defunct) San Francisco bakery. When the owner of the culture fails to appear for the auction and is subsequently found murdered in his own apartment, the chain of events becomes extremely complicated. All but one of the bidders are related by blood or broken marriages, and the deceased owner's sister also becomes involved as his heir apparent. Then the culture itself is discovered to have disappeared from the warehouse where it had been frozen and stored.
I won't offer any additional spoilers. Just be prepared for a lot of twists and surprises. Some are indeed amusing, others pretty sad. The characters are not thin or underdeveloped, but as one might expect in this type of story, they tend to be exaggerated to some extent. Rebecca's boyfriend Rob, a reporter for the Chronicle, becomes involved as he tries to get a front page scoop out of each unfolding incident. Since he is only "half Jewish," her parents do not approve of him and that adds to the humorous subplots. There's plenty of tension, though much of it is suitable for a television sitcom rather than a mystery novel. The resolution is satisfying without justifying the mayhem or exonerating the perpetrators.
It's a quick, light read that made a nice departure from some darker and almost claustrophobic material I have been reading. I recommend it to anyone who can take these kind of stories at face value without trying to analyze them too deeply or look for flaws.
The Sourdough Wars is the second volume of Julie Smith's Rebecca Schwartz Mysteries. It is set in early 1980's San Francisco where Rebecca is a thirty-year-old attorney with a penchant for finding dead bodies of people she knows. Her very-Jewish mother and successful-lawyer father are, of course, upset and concerned each time it happens.
Peter Martinelli, a struggling actor, inherited the sourdough starter--it is required to make San Francisco's famous bread--from his parents. His sister got the fabulous house, but wants the starter, too. The Martinelli sourdough was once the best, but the bakery went out of business. The parents, hoping to recoup lost glory, put some of the starter in frozen storage. When Peter needed money to save a struggling theater, Rebecca and her partner suggested he auction off the starter. Several interested (and interesting) people arrive to bid, the starter is missing, Peter is murdered, and the Sourdough War ensues.
As with the first Rebecca Schwartz mystery, the story proceeds with a touch of San Francisco, a bit of Jewish family life, and a measure of humor. Smith moves the story along to a somewhat unexpected and action filled conclusion.
I found this cozy mystery to be a satisfying and entertaining read.
Imperfect Contract (A Sophia Burgess and Ray Stone Mystery)
But, Rebecca is still a likeable main character with a very nice sense of humour, and it is all very well written so never mind that the story is rather unbelievable, it is a nice, fun and entertaining read!
Under the one-star review "Bad idea" there is an interesting discussion about sourdough and whether or not it would have survived the treatment it was given in this story. According to the author, the basic event - freezing of sourdough by a bakery for later revival and reuse - is true and took place in San Fransisco in the 80s.
There is just one thing bugging me about Rebecca, she lets her parents dote on her far too much! She is a lawyer pushing 30 and I really hope she becomes less dependent on her parents in the stories to come.