The Whole Enchilada Summary & Study Guide

Diane Mott Davisdon
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The Whole Enchilada Summary & Study Guide Description

The Whole Enchilada Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davisdon.

The Whole Enchilada is a 2013 novel by award-winning mystery/suspense novelist Diane Mott Davidson. When local artist Holly Ingleby dies after attending a joint birthday party for her son Drew and Goldy Schulz’s son Arch, most people in the small community of Aspen Meadows, Colorado are shocked, but there is one person who isn’t: the person who killed her. Goldy Schulz – owner of Goldilocks’ Catering and amateur detective – believes from the first that there may be more to her friend Holly’s death than meets the eye, and when a popular priest named Father Pete and a woman named Kathie Beliar are attacked (and Kathie is killed) in the church office of St. Luke’s Episcopal the very next day, Goldy becomes convinced that Holly was murdered and the two incidents are connected. As Goldy and her friend Marla Korman search for clues both in the present and in the past which they hope will lead them to the killer, Goldy finds herself uncovering a maze of secrets and lies revolving around Holly that she never suspected her friend could have been involved in. As she continues to get closer to the truth, Goldy also discovers that she may also have made herself the killer’s next target. The Whole Enchilada is the 17th novel by Diane Mott Davidson featuring her character Goldy Schulz as the narrator, and was preceded in the series by 2011’s Crunch Time.

Goldy Schulz is a 38-year-old woman who lives with her son Arch and her second husband Tom – who is an investigator for the Furman Country Sheriff’s Department – in the affluent community of Aspen Meadows, Colorado. Goldy operates Goldilocks’ Catering with her assistant Julian Teller – sometimes with help from her best friend Marla Korman – and is also an amateur detective. As the novel opens, Goldy and Julian are catering a 17th birthday party for Goldy’s son Arch and Drew Ingleby, the son of Goldy’s friend Holly Ingleby, who Goldy had met seventeen years earlier on the maternity ward where both Drew and Arch had been born on the same day. Goldy and Holly had remained friends over the years, and for a time had both been members of a support group called Amour Anonymous after their respective divorces. Goldy and Holly had grown apart over the years – although they always remained friends – as Goldy built her business and Holly, an artist, concentrated on creating and selling portrait-collages. Just prior to the party, Goldy learns that Holly had lost her house to foreclosure and has been having financial problems.

The party for Arch and Drew gets underway at 5:00, and among the first to arrive are Father Pete, the priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, a fitness instructor at the Aspen Meadows Country Club named Bob Rushwood and his young fiancée Ophelia Unger, and a psychiatrist named Dr. Warren Broome and his new wife Patsie Boatfield. Broome’s license to practice had been suspended for six months after he was convicted of sexual misconduct, and he’d only gotten it back a few weeks before the party. When Holly and Drew arrive at the party Goldy sees that Holly is upset, and notices a stout man she thinks she recognizes but cannot place standing in the driveway watching Holly. Holly says that the man is dangerous, and then tells Goldy that she is in a relationship mess. Before she can go into any details the stout man enters the house and a moment later Holly’s ex-husband George Ingleby and his wife Lena – who Holly had purposely not invited – show up. Goldy’s husband Tom throws the three of them out, and soon Holly starts mingling with the other guests. As Holly and Drew are leaving, Holly tells Goldy that they need to get together soon and talk. A moment later Holly collapses on the sidewalk and dies.

Later that evening Goldy and Arch, along with Julian and Father Pete, accompany Drew back to the rented house by the lake where he had lived with his mother so that he can pack his things. There is a large box on the front porch, which Julian carries inside. While the others are upstairs helping Drew, Goldy looks around the living room where she notices Holly’s prized Haviland china, a hand-painted jigsaw puzzle on the desk, and a portrait-collage of Drew. She also finds Holly’s cell phone and sees a text message on it which reads: “Not another cent. Don’t ask, or you’ll regret it.” Goldy steps onto the back deck of the house where she sees an envelope in a planter with “DREW! HERE’S YOUR MONEY!” written on it in large block letters. An instant later the deck collapses, and Goldy plummets into the lake below; Julian manages to pull her out before she drowns. At the hospital, Tom tells her that the support posts beneath the front of the deck had been deliberately removed earlier that day. Although the preliminary indications are that Holly had died of a heart attack, Goldy believes that her friend was murdered and begins her own investigation.

The next day – Saturday – Goldy and Marla pay a visit to Bob Rushwood and his fiancée Ophelia Unger at the country club’s fitness center. Bob tells them that Holly had trained there for a while, but had quit several months earlier. While they are there they also run into Neil Unger, Ophelia’s father, who reminds Goldy that she is catering his daughter’s 21st birthday party that Monday evening. Goldy and Marla next visit Holly’s ex-husband George Ingleby, where they are treated rudely by George’s wife Lena; as they are leaving, Lena blurts out that Holly Ingleby had slept with Dr. Warren Broome. After they return home, Goldy learns that a woman named Kathie Beliar – who has been trying to steal catering jobs from her – is at St. Luke’s Church, where Goldy is scheduled to cater a fundraiser the next evening, talking to Father Pete. Goldy and Marla head to the church to confront her, but find Kathie dead and Father Pete critically wounded in the church office. After Tom arrives and takes their statements, he tells Goldy that a preliminary toxicology screen on Holly had turned up traces of an antibiotic called Loquin – which was pulled from the market after it was found to cause heart failure in patients with certain types of heart conditions – in her bloodstream. He also says that Holly had been in the process of suing her ex-husband George because he’d stopped making child support payments around the time Holly had lost her house. Tom’s people had found a portrait-collage of Warren Broome’s new wife in the box Julian had carried in from the front porch of Holly’s rented house.

When Goldy and Marla return to Goldy’s house, they begin searching through the notes Goldy had taken years before at the Amour Anonymous meetings, and find an entry where Goldy recorded Holly as having said that she’d visited a cardiologist. She texts this to Tom, who later confirms that Holly had suffered from a problem with the S-T interval in her heartbeat, one of the conditions Loquin was known to adversely affect. Goldy realizes that someone at the party had sprinkled Loquin on the chili relleno torta – Holly’s favorite dish – to kill her, and then probably sabotaged the deck to make sure Holly died even if the Loquin didn’t kill her. When Tom gets home he tells Goldy that Father Pete is in a coma, and it appears that a file marked COUNSELING is all that was taken from the church office.

The next day after church Ophelia Unger asks Goldy if she can recommend a good lawyer; Ophelia believes that her mother had left her some money when she died that her father was hiding from her. After introducing her to a lawyer named Brewster Motley, Goldy talks to Audrey Millard, the church secretary, who tells her that Father Pete counseled Holly Ingleby regularly, although she doesn’t know the details. Audrey also tells Goldy that she (Audrey) had been a victim of Warren Broome’s sexual misconduct, but that she’d never come forward because she’d been afraid of the publicity. She also says that a week before she died, Holly Ingleby had given her a hand-painted jigsaw puzzle of Hunan Province in China, and told her that if anything happened to her she was to give the puzzle to Father Pete. That evening Goldy, Julian, and Marla cater the fundraiser for St. Luke’s Church, and at one point during the evening Dr. Warren Broome grabs Goldy and demands to know what Holly had told her about him, but is pulled off of her by one of Tom’s deputies. Goldy is restless later that night and stays up after Tom goes to bed. When she opens the back door to let her dog out, a man wearing a mask pulls Goldy outside, gets his arm around her throat, and asks, “Who knows?” and “Where are Holly’s notes?” before running away after Julian shouts from inside the house. Tom calls a crime-scene unit in to investigate, but they find no trace of the attacker.

The next day is Monday, and after she and Julian finish prepping the dishes they will be serving at Ophelia Unger’s birthday party that evening, Goldy and Marla return to searching through the Amour Anonymous records. Something she reads reminds Goldy that Holly once told her that they had both probably gotten pregnant at the same medical conference eighteen years earlier; although they had both gone to the conference, Holly had spent most of the time hiking in the mountains which is why Goldy hadn’t met her there. When Goldy looks the conference up in her records she finds that along with herself, Holly, and their husbands at the time, both Neil Unger and Dr. Warren Broome had been at the conference. Goldy also stumbles upon something in the notes that makes her suspect that George Ingleby was sterile, which means he couldn’t be Drew’s biological father. Goldy, Marla, and Julian then head to Neil Unger’s mansion to cater Ophelia’s party. After dinner Ophelia calls her father and her fiancé Bob Rushwood into the kitchen where she, with Brewster Motley at her side, tells Neil that they have discovered that her mother left her a trust fund worth $30 million when she died, which her father has kept hidden from her; she also knows that Bob has been spying on her for her father since they first met. She breaks her engagement with Rushwood and Motley tells Neil that his firm will be filing charges against him for fraud, after which Ophelia and Motley leave and the party breaks up.

The next day, Marla and Goldy head to Denver. Their first stop is the gift shop at the Catholic church Holly had attended when she’d moved to Denver for a while after her divorce. The woman who runs the gift shop tells them that Holly had fallen deeply in love while she’d lived in Denver, but whoever the man was had dumped her. They then pay a visit to an artist named Andrei Yurbin – the stout man who had followed Holly to the party – who Goldy remembered having met once at a party she’d gone to with Holly years earlier. While they are in Yurbin’s studio Goldy sees swatch of cloth which she recognizes as being the same material she had seen in the portrait-collage of Patsie Boatfield, and realizes that Yurbin and Holly had been partners; Holly had sold the portrait-collages under her name and gathered the materials used to create them while Yurbin had done the actual artwork. Yurbin admits this is true, and says that he’d followed Holly to the party to confront her because he believed that she’d been cheating him, but that he hadn’t killed her.

The next day Goldy and Marla, along with Tom, head to Boulder where they talk to Wendy Williams, a hairdresser who had done Holly’s hair, who says that the only men she’d ever heard Holly talk about were Neil Unger and Warren Broome. They then head to the conference center where the medical conference Holly and Goldy attended had been held. Something the woman at the center says reminds Goldy of the jigsaw puzzles – one that she gave to Audrey Millard and one that was on the desk at Holly’s rented house. Both puzzles had been of China, and Goldy understands that Holly had been leaving a clue about who would have reason to kill her. She, Marla, and Tom go to the rented house, where Goldy finds a swatch of fabric taped to the back of a china plate that matches fabric used in the portrait-collage of Drew on the wall. Goldy finds a flash-drive hidden behind the portrait-collage just as a man wearing a mask and holding a gun enters the living room. Marla pulls off the man’s mask, revealing that is Bob Rushwood. Bob shoots Goldy in the ankle before Tom, who had stepped out onto the front porch, rushes back in and shoots Bob in the chest. As he falls to the floor Goldy notices how much he resembles his biological son, Drew Ingleby.

As Goldy recuperates in the hospital Father Pete regains consciousness and the entire story comes out. Holly had met Bob Rushwood at the medical conference eighteen years earlier, where he had fathered her son Drew; she’d gotten back together with him in Denver after her divorce, where he had dumped her after going through the money from her divorce settlement. She later followed him back to Aspen Meadows, where they’d had an on-and-off affair before he’d dumped her again and became engaged to wealthy Ophelia Unger. Holly learned that Bob had been stealing from Pails for Trails, the charity he ran, and that he’d been having a long running affair with Wendy Williams, the Denver hairdresser. Holly had been blackmailing Rushwood and Bob had sprinkled Loquin – which he’d once taken for a sinus infection – on a dish he knew Holly would eat at the party to kill her. He had sabotaged the deck in an attempted to kill Drew, and had stabbed Father Pete because he feared what the priest knew about their relationship; Kathie Beliar had seen him stab Father Pete, so he’d killed her too. Bob survives the surgery to remove the bullet from his chest, but dies of an infection. As she is recuperating in the hospital from her ankle wound, Goldy learns that she is pregnant and nine months later gives birth to a healthy daughter named Grace.

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