Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review: A Measure of Murder by Leslie Karst (Sally Solari Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and a great mystery
Cons: Sally’s reasons for investigating on the weak side
The Bottom Line:
Chorus of murder
Sally’s second mystery
Delight for readers

This Mystery Hits All the Right Notes

I must admit that knowing an author’s second book is coming soon can bump the first one up my TBR mountain range.  I made a decision to read Leslie Karst’s debut a couple of months ago so I would be ready to read A Measure of Murder when it came out this month, assuming I liked the first one, of course.  Obviously, I liked the first one since here I am reading the second, and I felt this one was even stronger.

The last thing Sally Solari needs right now is something more in her life.  Her plan to transition from her family’s Italian restaurant to managing the restaurant she inherited from her aunt is going very slowly, meaning she is often pulling shifts at both of them.  And yet, she lets her friend Eric talk her into joining the community chorus.  They are doing Mozart’s Requiem, something Sally has dreamed of singing for years.

Sally is a little rusty, not having sung in public for years, which means she runs afoul of Kyle during the audition process.  Kyle is the lead for the tenor section, and he is snarky to all of the new members.  He goes missing part way through the chorus’s first rehearsal only to be found dead outside the church where the rehearsal is taking place.

Kyle fell through a broken and rotting window in an upstairs room of the church, and the police are quick to rule it a tragic accident.  However, Sally isn’t so sure because something about the way his body landed doesn’t feel like an accident.  When Jill, Kyle’s girlfriend, asks Sally to look into it, she begins to find plenty of motives for this to be murder.  But if it was murder, who did it?

Okay, let’s get the biggest criticism out of the way right off the bat.  Sally’s reasons for poking into this murder are thin at best.  However, I didn’t mind too much since the book really was a lot of fun.

Author Leslie Karst spends a little time early on weaving the suspects into Sally’s life, and it really isn’t too long before we see the fruit of this set up.   I thought I had the killer and motive pegged early on, but before we reached the logical climax, I had seriously questioned myself as other suspects and motives became clear.  Was I right?  I’m not saying.

Since I read the first one just a couple of months ago, the characters were still fresh in my mind.  I loved getting to see Sally and Eric again.  Of the returning characters, they got the most page time, and I enjoyed getting to know them better.  Others from the first book are still around, and we get to see some relationships grow and change.  This book’s suspects?  They are strong, of course, helping us believe that they really could have done it.

Unlike most of the cozies I read, there are some swear words sprinkled throughout the book.  Honestly, most of them were unnecessary and bothered me.  (Yet, I’m listening to authors who use plenty more than show up here, and it doesn’t bother me as much.  Go figure.  Probably because I’m not used to seeing them in cozies.)  Still, it was a minor irritant.

While the chorus provides the murder and suspects in this book, we still spend plenty of time in both restaurants.  Believe me, there are lots of passages to make your mouth water here.  And you’ll find four recipes at the end of the book for everything from a real Cesar salad to Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  We also get to learn a little more about the dishes.

The strong plot and fun characters make A Measure of Murder a delight to read.  If you haven’t met Sally yet, you’ll want to fix that today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book


  1. I agree that language can be jarring if it doesn't feel natural. I think it's not the language that bothers me but the use. I wouldn't like it if they suddenly burst into song for no reason so weirdly inserted language does't work either. This does sound good and I love the food/music elements. I don't mind a thin reason to get involved in an investigation as long as I enjoy the book. It's only when the amateur sleuth is hostile or rude to people she's questioning for no reason does it really bother me because I start wondering why on earth they're answering her questions!

  2. I, too, have read cozies recently with unnecessary swearing. Even though I read psychological thrillers and will watch movies/TV programs with swearing, it doesn't feel right in a cozy mystery. I always make note of it in my reviews in case someone doesn't want to read a cozy because of that. I've only stopped reading a cozy because of swearing once, and it was MAJOR swear words.

    It sounds like a great mystery, though. I have had my eye on this one. I may have to go back and check out the first in the series. :)

  3. This sounds like a good series. I love cozies with recipes, too.

  4. I read both of these books a couple of weeks ago, and I agree that Book 2 is stronger than book 1. I liked the subplot of having Sally and friends rehearsing for Mozart's Requiem plus juggling her duties at both restaurants.

  5. Weak reasons for investigating will kill a cozy for me. I always end up hating those characters because I think they are nosy busybodies.