Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery and characters
Cons: Mystery a little slow in the beginning
The Bottom Line:
With her aunt murdered
Sally must find the killer
You’ll be Dying for the Sequel
I really do wish I had more time to read. (You know, without giving up anything else in my life, of course.) I’ve been wanting to read Dying for a Taste since I first heard about it when it came out this spring, but I just finally got a chance to read it.
This first in a series introduces us to Sally Solari, a former lawyer who is helping run her family’s restaurant in Santa Cruz, California. Her aunt Letta runs another restaurant in town, and Sally and Letta have become close in recent years.
Sally is shocked when her friend Eric in the DA’s office calls one morning to let her know that Letta has been found murdered in the kitchen of her restaurant. The evidence points to Letta’s sous chef, Javier. But after all Letta had done for Javier, would he really murder Letta? Sally doesn’t think so, and she begins to dig into Letta’s life to find out what really happened. It turns out Letta had some secrets and some enemies. But what lead to Letta’s death?
While the book opens with Sally finding out about Letta’s murder, it did feel like things were a little slow overall in the beginning as Sally deals with her family and the funeral. On the other hand, this is true to life, and a part of life that is often glossed over in the mysteries I read. And the author does use the time to introduce us to some of the suspects and set up clues and red herrings that Sally will be following. I also appreciated the balance as Sally deals with her grief. It was enough to help flesh her out for us, but not enough to be sad or depressing.
Once Sally does start to fully investigate, the pace really picks up. There are enough clues and red herrings to keep us confused until we reach the climax. I enjoyed the creativity of the climax as well.
The characters are good. They are interesting enough to make us care about the story, but they do have a little room to grow, something I’m sure that will come as the series progresses. This is just the debut after all. Sally was definitely the most developed series character, which makes sense because she is our main character and narrator. We got to know several others almost as well, but there are some other supporting players I hope will be fleshed out as the series progresses. The suspects were definitely all solid characters, which always makes finding the villain more of a challenge.
This book does have a smattering of foul language in it. It’s just a handful scattered thoughtout the book, but keep that in mind as you sit down to read.
Over the course of the book, we do get into a couple of issues that made me start to cringe. I was expecting we might get lectured on them, but the author kept a fairly even hand. We know her point of view, but we do see the nuances. I really appreciated that since it avoided the stereotypes I was expecting and kept the story more entertaining. Plus, I hate being lectured in my fiction even if I agree with the point of view.
Of course, we get some recipes at the end of the book. They are a step above the recipes normally featured in the back of culinary cozies, and they sound delicious. We get things such as endive and leek gratin, linguine with clam sauce, and pork chops with apricot brandy sauce.
Sally Solari is another great sleuth, and if you’ve missed her debut, be sure to track down Dying for a Taste. I’m looking forward to seeing where her next adventure takes her.