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The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith
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The Sourdough Wars (original 1984; edition 1984)

by Julie Smith

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198559,376 (2.98)4
Member:gpangel
Title:The Sourdough Wars
Authors:Julie Smith
Info:Walker & Co (1984), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 180 pages
Collections:cozy mystery, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:cozy mystery, san francisco

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The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith (1984)

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One of the things for which San Francisco is famous is its sourdough bread. Unlike other breads, each loaf must contain a starter, a piece of dough that has been cultured for many years. There are differences between various cultures and a lot of competition to have the best one. Enough competition to kill for.
That is what happens in THE SOURDOUGH WARS. One of the best sourdough bakeries closed when the owner died and his children fought over what to do with the starter. The daughter, Anita, wanted the bakery. She got the house. The son, Peter, wanted the house. He got the bakery.
Awhile later, a theater group with which Peter was involved was trying to stay in business. Someone suggested auctioning of the starter to raise funds for the project. There were four potential buyers: Two feuding brothers from the San Francisco area, each of whom had a bakery specializing in sourdough, a woman from the area who had a small, independent bakery and, possibly, the best sourdough bread in the area, and an out-of-towner who represented a large corporation. While the quartet waited and waited and waited for the auction to begin, Peter didn’t show up. He had been murdered.
Each of the four members of the group may have had a reason to kill him. So did Anita. Rebecca Schwartz, a Jewish feminist lawyer who was helping with the auction, suddenly became one of those trying to find the murderer.
One of the main complications of solving the crime was the interference of a reporter who was determined to get the story first. “Reporters never seem to care what kind of chaos is unleashed as a result of their handiwork; every day they open a new and different Pandora’s Box and don’t give a damn about the consequences.”
There is a common thread throughout the story: parental favoritism. How parents, and others, view a person, does have a lasting effect on how they live their lives. It often drives a wedge between siblings. As Anita stated, “I really hated him, you know that? I wanted to humiliate him the way my parents humiliated me–I wanted to show him up as incompetent. So you know what I did? I let it get in my way. If I’d offered him decent money for the starter, he’d have sold it to me and we’d both have been happy, but I had to control him into the bargain.”
“Revenge may not be the most uplifting theme of the human psyche, but it can be comforting sometimes.”
Author Julie Smith uses humor and witty dialogue throughout the story. Near the beginning, she wrote, “‘It’s just one of those ineffable things’ said Mickey. That was the way she usually handled Kruzick–by using words he couldn’t understand.”
Other examples are “Over the bridge and through Marin, to Sally’s place we went.” and, in response to a two short sentence dialogue: “Supplying the third line of a rhyming triplet.” I had to go back and reread it. I had missed the rhyming.
There is a thorough explanation of the history of sourdough: What it is. How it got to San Francisco. Why it’s important.
The book was published in 1984. I would hope there would be some changes now to reflect changing social awareness. She was ahead of her time on her attitude toward the gay community but her stereotypical descriptions of her Jewish mother were offensive. Besides her caricature of a mother, Rebecca was Jewish had nothing to do with the story. She isn’t observant when she briefly describes eating shellfish, definitely not kosher.
The book is well-written and entertaining. It is the second of a series. I received it as a free Amazon download. ( )
  Judiex | Jan 8, 2017 |
I loved this mystery, and hated to put it down! The plot twists were excellent, and the various main and secondary characters came alive. Fun dialogue, too!

I liked all the drama about the famed sourdough starter, too, though it made me hungry!

I will be reading more of this series. This is book #2, and I look forward to #1, then more. ( )
  cissa | Dec 2, 2016 |
I picked this book up at a library sale recently. The copyright was from 1984 . So, the book speaks to issues of that time, and the obvious lack of technology we are used to today, but that was really easy to overlook. I liked the book.
This book is set in San Francisco. Rebecca Schwartz and her reporter boyfried Rob and Rebecca's colleague, Chris try to solve the mystery of Chris's lover's murder.
Peter had a recipe for sourdough bread that had been a closely guarded family secret. When he decided to auction the "starter" for charity, he is murdered before the auction can take place. Rebecca and Chris wonder if Peter was really killed over a bread recipe.
Rebecca is a quirky type of character with a quirky family and an over zealous boyfriend. Rebecca is easy to relate to though. I wanted to strangle Rob, and got frustrated with Rebecca's willingness to forgive him time and again.
Chris was the most sane person in the group, but pretty low key.
The mystery was good. I didn't solve it or even guess the outcome. So, I flipped through the pages pretty fast.
This is a really short book, a very light read. Enjoyable enough. Over all a B- /C+ ( )
  gpangel | Nov 22, 2012 |
I gave the book 3 stars. It was interesting to read about the making of sourdough bread. This is the second book in the Rebecca Schwartz series. It has been a while since I read the first book. I would have appreciated a better background information for a reminder or if someone started with reading this book. I like the author's Skip Langdon series set in New Orleans much better. ( )
  Alice_Wonder | Mar 14, 2012 |
Too cozy. ( )
  cherilove | Jul 18, 2010 |
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Book description
A lawyer stumbles on bodies in the typical fashion of amateur sleuths.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080410929X, Mass Market Paperback)

When the heir 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....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:57 -0400)

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Julie Smith is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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