Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dying for a Taste (A Sally Solari Mystery)

Author:  Leslie Karst
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover, Ebook
ISBN #:  9781629535975
Crooked Lane Books
304 Pages
$19.67; $9.99 Amazon
April 12, 2016
Five Stars

After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California.  But managing the front of the house is far from her dream job.

Then in a sudden twist her Aunt Letta is found murdered in her own restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place running.  But when her sous chef is accused of the crime, and she finds herself suddenly short-staffed, Sally must delve into the world of sustainable farming - not to mention a few family secrets - to help him clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

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Sally Solari quit her job as a corporate attorney to return to her father's Italian restaurant after her mother passed away.  Although she doesn't miss her old life, her new one is about to become more complicated than she ever thought...

While having lunch one afternoon she receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend Eric, a District Attorney, who tells her that her Aunt Letta has been murdered; and it occurred at Letta's restaurant, Gauguin.  To make it worse, all the evidence is pointing toward Letta's head chef Javier, as the guilty party.  But neither Eric nor Sally believe he's the killer, and Eric quietly urges her to help Javier if she can, since Eric isn't able to due to his job.

So Sally, after speaking with Javier, reluctantly agrees and sets about trying to find out who killed Letta and why.  What she comes across not only knocks her for a loop, it also becomes a tale enmeshed with secrets and lies, leaving her to wonder if she ever really knew Letta at all...

Letta, her father's younger sister, hated working at the restaurant when she was young and bailed as soon as she came of age.  After spending several years away, she returned and opened Gauguin, but still remained semi-estranged from her family, only occasionally returning for the weekly Sunday dinners at her mother's, and never really connecting with her brother again.  The only one she remained somewhat close to was Sally, who also considered herself an outsider, because she too left and went to law school.

Even so, Sally is stunned when she learns that Letta willed the restaurant to her and she is now the new owner.  Not sure if she wants the responsibility, it strains her own relationship with her father when he treats this as a betrayal by his late sister, figuring Sally will want to leave Solari's once again.  

As the police don't seem to be looking for another suspect, Sally continues searching, uncovering things Letta never intended for anyone to know.  Along the way, she also discovers that Gauguin was under attack by a radical who wanted her to serve only sustainable seafood and humanely raised meats, and with this new suspect also added soon finds more than enough people on her list.  Eventually she realizes, almost too late, that's she's not only on the tail of the real killer, but that the real killer is on her tail as well...

Dying for a Taste is the freshman debut of Leslie Karst, and it's a very good one indeed.  I will be honest and tell you that it didn't grab my attention right away, but after a few chapters I 'fell in with the action,' as it were, and found myself enjoying the story and trying to figure out the clues leading to the killer right along with Sally.  

I did realize who the killer was ahead of time, but it never stopped my enjoyment of the book.  When the final chapters arrive, it is riveting, and we wind up right along with Sally, in a frenetic intensity to escape a killer before she becomes the next victim.  Highly recommended.



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