Dig that Diva, Digging Up the Dirt

"The Diva Digs Up the Dirt" by Krista Davis
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Does she ever-- literally and figuratively.

Plus, she has a reality TV crew encamped in her backyard, but all's well that ends well with that subplot.

The title Diva, Sophie Winston, writes a domestic-advice column, sort of "Dear Abby" meets "Hints from Heloise." She also works as an events planner in and around Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia, an historic area with plenty of historically oriented and metro-DC happenings to keep her on the run.

Indeed, the plethora of local gatherings can easily support another Domestic Diva, Natasha, Sophie's childhood bete noire. Not that much has changed in their relationship. Natasha's competitively manic proclivities have intensified, up to her latching onto Sophie's ex-husband, Mars.

Sophie has been tolerant of her neighbor and rival Diva, which hasn't gone unnoticed by Mars, who-- in a manner of speaking-- may have traded up for the shinier, flashier model when the real deal was with his solidly reliable first spouse.

This sixth "Domestic Diva" novel runs Sophie-solid with some nice Natasha-ish flourishes, as the narrative centers on Wolf, the detective whom Sophie has been dating, and Kenner-- the detective who would like to date Sophie.

As the plot thickens like an expertly homemade custard, we discover that there's quite a back story between the dueling detectives (in another time, namely the 1940s, we could get away with using the then-popular argot for a detective, which would make for a Diva-worthy double entendre).

That back story ties in with the presence of Wolf's mother-in-law, Mona, who believes her missing daughter is alive and who wants Sophie to locate her. Wolf's past also harkens back to a now-at-odds family who are not only Sophie's clients, but also close friends of Sophie's next-door neighbor, Francie.

Along with the seven-layer-surprise casserole of a plot, there's a veritable crew of regular characters (including Sophie's neighbors, Francie and Nina; Mars's restaurateur pal, Bernie; and Natasha's Carson Kressley-esque assistant, Leon), as well as fab-food and gardening tips galore.

Relax on your "repurped" bench (you'll learn now to make one) with your yard-sale green-glass pitcher of iced tea, and soak in Sophie and bask in Natasha.