The Fragrance of Death by Leslie Karst

The Fragrance of Death by Leslie Karst
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Snowdrop

Restaurateur Sally Solari has a nose for trouble, but when her sense of smell goes missing, it’s not just her career on the line . . . it’s her life.

Restaurateur Sally Solari is a champion, both in the kitchen and on the case, but after getting mixed up in one too many murders, she’s noticed her nonna’s friends have now taken to crossing themselves when they see her in the street. Adding to her woes, a sinus infection has knocked out her sense of smell, making cooking on the hot line difficult, indeed. Nevertheless, Sally is determined to stay out of trouble and focus on her work.

But then her old acquaintance Neil Lerici is murdered at the annual Santa Cruz Artichoke Cook-Off, and her powers of investigation are called into action once more. Could Neil have been killed by the local restaurant owner who took his winning spot at the competition? Or maybe by one of his siblings, who were desperate to sell the family farm to a real estate developer?

Sally plunges headfirst into the case, risking alienating everyone she knows – including the dapper Detective Vargas, who finds her sleuthing both infuriating and endearing. And soon it’s not only her restaurant and tentative new relationship that are on the line – it’s her life . . .

If you’re a food and cooking fan, this is a delightful book. Actually, it was pretty enjoyable, period. It would be difficult to ignore the descriptions of cooking and excellent dishes. You might try it out and see what happens if you can’t smell any of it. Nope…not even a whiff. That’s what happens to our main character in this book of the Leslie Karst series. Sally Solari can’t smell a thing, not even the rat who offed her fiercest competitor. Friend or foe, Sally still has to sniff out the murderer (sorry I could not leave out that pun).

Anyway, this is a fun, well-written cozy set right in California on the coast. Karst is as good at describing the beautiful scenery settings as she is at describing the dishes. The idea of a cozy theme being about a chef who has no sense of smell just cracks me up, and I loved the book.

The Fragrance of Death is my first Leslie Karst mystery. If it is any example of the rest, they must all be able to be read as a stand-alone. Since this one, Book 5, was so fun, I think I’ll go back and read them all.

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