Thursday, April 4, 2019

Book Review: Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst (Sally Solari #4)


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, especially Evelyn; good mystery
Cons: Pacing a bit off at times
The Bottom Line:
Distant relation
Murder and a blind woman
Fun ingredients




Sally Must Look Closely to Find a Killer

Odds are that if you are a friend or relative of a cozy sleuth, you will wind up accused of murder at some point in your life.  But, occasionally, you’ll wind up as the murder victim.  That’s what happened in the first book in the Sally Solari series, and it has happened again in the fourth book, Murder from Scratch.

Sally gets the news from her father that her distant cousin Jackie has died of a drug overdose.  While Sally is sad, she and Jackie weren’t close – in fact, they hadn’t spoken in years and she hadn’t met Evelyn, Jackie’s twenty-year-old daughter, who happens to be blind.  Evelyn was still living with her mom, and she can’t face trying to live in the house alone right away, so she winds up moving into Sally’s spare room for a little while.  The two women hit it off, and are soon plotting home cooked meals and plans for Evelyn’s twenty-first birthday.

A stop by Evelyn’s house to pick up a few things she needs bring some surprises to light.  Things are out of place.  Since Evelyn is blind, she and her mother kept everything in the same spot so that Evelyn could always find what she is looking for without needing help.  Evelyn suspects this means someone else was in the house when her mom died.  The police have ruled it a suicide by drug overdose, but is Evelyn right?  If so, can Sally see the clues to find the killer?

The mystery is good with several viable suspects if indeed it does turn out to be murder.  (Oh, who are we kidding, this is a murder mystery.)  I did feel the pacing was a little off, but not too bad.  I enjoy spending time with Sally and her family and friends so this wasn’t a big concern for me.  We do get a couple of good sub-plots that help keep us engaged.  I appreciated how Sally figured things out at the end and how the climax played out.

As I mentioned, I enjoy Sally and her family and friends.  Between the restaurants she owns, her family, and her friends, we have plenty of series regulars.  A few only get cameos here, but I still enjoyed getting to see them.  The characters introduced in the book are all strong, with the suspects real enough to keep me guessing who did it.

Which brings us to Evelyn.  Having a major character in the book being blind was very interesting.  Obviously, it played into the mystery, with Evelyn providing some of the clues Sally needed to solve the crime or even know a crime had been committed.  But with Evelyn staying with Sally, we also got to see what life is like for a blind person in our world today.  I was very interested to learn about some of the apps that have been developed to help them live a more independent life.  Evelyn provides an interesting angle that makes this book stand out from many cozies I read.

Of course, we get a few recipes to try after we’ve enjoyed the book; this is a culinary mystery, after all.  There are a total of five, including a recipe for made from scratch egg pasta.  Yes, the recipes intimidate me more than the recipes in a typical culinary cozy, but they sure do sound delicious.

The book takes place in early December.  While it doesn’t have an all-out Christmas feel to it, there are some references to the season, not to mention the rain that always makes me think of Christmas.  (Hey, like Sally, I am a California native.)  This was a fun touch as well.

All told, Murder from Scratch is a solid mystery that will help you see what life for the blind can be like today while entertaining you.  This is a book to add to your to be read pile today.

Looking for more?  Here are the Sally Solari Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

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