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Leslie Karst Books In Order

Publication Order of Sally Solari Mystery Books

Dying for a Taste (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Measure of Murder (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death Al Fresco (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Leslie Karst is the daughter of a potter and law professor who learned from a very young age the value of careful analysis of the arts and careful analysis while having conversations at the family table. She spent much of her early childhood and teen years in several towns and locales that included Santa Monica, California, Oxford, England, Mexico, South America, and Columbus, Ohio before she moved to Santa Cruz in South California, where she attended UCSC studying Romance Languages and English literature. Leslie would then go to Stanford Law School, and spent two decades working as an appellate and research lawyer for a prominent Santa Cruz law firm. During this time, she discovered her passion for cooking and food and went back to school attending the Cabrillo College, where she graduated with a culinary arts degree. She now loves to call herself a retired attorney and spends much of her time cycling, gardening, singing alto for her community choir, cooking, and most important of all writing. She is married to Robin and together with Ziggy their Russell Jack mix spend their time in Hawaii, Hilo, and Santa Cruz.

Karst cites Dorothy L. Sawyers the British mystery author for the 1930s as one of her biggest inspiration. Just like her hero, Karst uses the mystery genre to bring to light different cultures of the society she lives in, while telling a mystery story full of intriguing characters. For Leslie, it is not about being preachy or an us versus them story, but rather an exposition of how things are. Her life as an attorney similar to her protagonist informs her novels to quite a significant extent. With a UCLA retired law professor for a father, she surprisingly detested the life of a lawyer when she started out, and never had the passion for the law that her father had, even though following in his footsteps was always something she dreamt of. Everything changes when she got hold of “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller that finally gave her powerful insights and even convinced her that her work as a lawyer may in fact be a writing job. Nonetheless, she still wanted to write fiction and penned her first novel “Dying for A Taste” while still working as an attorney. Eighty rejections later, she finally published the novel in 2016. Her novels in the “A Sally Solari Mysteries” are all about the five senses. In addition to the theme of the senses is the aspect of food which is central to every novel of the A Sally Solari Mystery series. As such, the novels also come with recipes for foods like apricot brandy sauce, seared pork chops, and linguine with clam sauce among other treats.

The A Sally Solari Mystery series are generally classified as cozy mysteries though Karst likes to call her novels Snarky cozies due to Sally Solari’s propensity for swearing and the sarcastic riposte. According to the author, she never did decide to get into the writing of cozies but rather the genre did choose her. From the first time she sat down to write fiction, Sally’s voice came into her head. The fun-loving, slightly sarcastic and breezy voice was so convincing that she immediately knew that it would make for a great cozy mystery series. The lead in her series of novels is a fourth generation American Italian girl named Sally Solari that is part of an old community of fishermen that first came to Santa Cruz, California in the late 19th century. Just like her creator, Sally is an excellent cook with tons of Italian recipes in her kitchen. She is also a former lawyer who loves single barrel bourbons, the Giants, the opera, dogs and recreational cycling. However, she is different from Karst in that she is a tall woman with Italian heritage, a 57T-Bird convertible. and is far braver when it comes to her amateur sleuthing. Solari’s father is the proprietor and manager of Solari’s Italian seafood restaurant where Sally often helps out. However, Sally finds herself caught between two competing cultures. The old school and traditional restaurant now has to contend with the trendy food movement popularized by new hipster arrivals on the Santa Cruz wharf, that threaten most of the old timers stuck to their old ways.

“Dying for a Taste” the first novel of the A Solari Mystery series opens to a Sally that just lost her mother to cancer and quit her job as a lawyer to help run the Solari restaurant, an old school Italian eatery on the Santa Cruz wharf. But she has never dreamed of managing the front office of the restaurant and would rather work in the back. But in a surprising twist her aunt Letta is killed running her own restaurant meaning that Sally may have to step up to keep the business up and running. Then she suddenly finds herself short-staffed when the sous chef is charged with the murder of her aunt. Determined to keep the business afloat, she needs to clear her chef of the charges which may involve a few family secrets, sustainable farming, and chasing down the leads to the real killer before they grow cold. “Dying for a Taste” is an intriguing and stirring debut that is sure to make for some compelling reading for its readers.

“A Measure of Murder” the second novel of the series has Sally Solari busy with getting up to speed with the autumn menu for Gauguin, the restaurant that just came into her possession, while also working at Solaris. With such a hectic schedule you would think she would not have time for joining a chorus, but that is exactly what she does. Together with Eric her ex-boyfriend, they are performing the Mozart Requiem, her favorite composition that she just recently discovered. But then one of the tenors is found dead on the church court yard on the first day of the rehearsal, with his girlfriend convinced that there was foul play involved. Sally makes a comeback in yet another exciting murder case that is accompanied with music, a dose of peril, and a dash of revenge. With tensions heating up, Solari never gets a reprieve as at just that moment the kitchen at her new restaurant is set aflame. Could Sally catch the man on a murderous rampage before he burns her business to a crisp or will the trail go cold on her?

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