by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
This week we have reviews & giveaways of 2 food related mysteries perfect for your Valentine’s Day reading-A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery by Leslie Karst, and War and Peach: A Georgia Peach Mystery by Susan Furlong. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy both books, along with links you can use to purchase them.
A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery by Leslie Karst
Review by Sandra Murphy
Although Sally Solari works in her family’s restaurant as the front of the house manager and runs Gauguin, the restaurant she inherited from her aunt, in this case, measure is not a cooking term but a musical one. Sally’s got a pretty good singing voice, not as good as her friend Allison, but good enough to audition for a choral group and be selected.
The judges are mostly kind in their critique, except for Kyle who tells it more like it is, saying to one bass contender, singing in tune would be a big help for future auditions. Marta, in charge of rehearsals and making the chorus worthy of Mozart’s “Requiem,” is a stickler for members being on time. When Kyle is the one who is late, it doesn’t go over well.
He’s got a good excuse though. He’s lying dead in the courtyard, seemingly fallen from a window that had a rotted frame that was due to be replaced. Sally thinks it looks like more than an accident. Her friends think she’s got murder on the brain since a few month ago, she helped solve the case of who murdered her aunt.
Ex-boyfriend and current friend, Eric and Allison, both agree she’s imagining more than is there. Even the police are willing to write off Kyle’s death as an accident without much of an investigation.
Meanwhile, Jill, one of the sopranos, and Kyle’s girlfriend agrees with Sally. Kyle was murdered. Sally agrees to ask a few questions, but with the case closed by the police, she’s not sure there’s much she can do. Besides, working two jobs, either of which could be called full time and rehearsing three times a week plus at home practice, doesn’t leave much free time to investigate although there always seems to be enough time to get Sally in trouble.
This is the second book in the Sally Solari Mystery series. Sally is learning to run Gauguin and ease herself out of the family restaurant without hurting her father’s feelings in the process, a tricky thing to manage. Eric is proving to be a better friend than boyfriend although now and again, he shows promise of more. Allison is a good friend, the kind who challenges you to be better than you think you can achieve. There’s a lot about musical history in general, Mozart in particular and the way a chorus works but it’s an integral part of the story and doesn’t detract from the mystery of Kyle’s death.
Sally did manage to find time to share the recipes for a crispy, buttery, golden-brown grilled cheese sandwich with spinach and red onions, a “real” Caesar salad, the kind with coddled eggs and the garlic croutons to go on it, spaghetti carbonara, and grilled salmon with papaya and avocado Pico de Gallo.
War and Peach: A Georgia Peach Mystery by Susan Furlong
Review by Cynthia Chow
The national election may be over, but race for mayor in Cays Mill, Georgia, is just heating up. While peach farmer Clem Rogers has the backing of his fellow farming community, the relative newcomer Bed & Breakfast owner Margie Price represents the business side. Nola Mae Harper finds herself in the middle of the battle, as being the owner of specialty store Peechy Keen her sympathies naturally side with a fellow businesswoman, whose relative newcomer status could bring a new perspective to outmoded practices. Despite frequent disagreements between the men, Nola’s peach farming father staunchly supports Clem and questions her family loyalty. Before a single ballot can be cast though, Clem’s pitchforked body is found in the ashes of his burned-down barn, and all evidence indicates that it was no accident.
Although Marcie would logically have the most motives for taking Clem out of the running, an argument Nola’s father had with Clem before his death has the Harper-hating Sheriff Maudy Payne intent on hauling him off to jail. A string of thefts around town should be more than enough to keep the tiny police department busy, and with Sheriff Payne already having made up her mind, it’s up to Nola to clear her father and discover the real murderer. If only she also wasn’t about to be the maid of honor for her best friend Hattie, who was rapidly turning into a bridezilla by being uncharacteristically indecisive and frantic about the entire ceremony.
With every chapter beginning with a “Southern Girl Secret,” this novel perfectly captures the Southern setting and clashes between the old and the new. This third in the Georgia Peach Mystery series continues to build upon the decision that caused Nola to flee Cays Mill in the first place, and the repercussions are something she continues to dwell upon. That comes into play most prominently in her relationship with former high school flame and current private investigator Dane Hawkins, and Nola’s new boyfriend Cade McKenna. What is most distinctive about this series is how it highlights the interactions of the small southern town, where everyone behaves as though as they are part of one dysfunctional family. Gossip flies, grudges never forgotten, and secrets kept, but in the end the most loyal are always there to support and comfort one another. Distinctly Southern recipes cap off an ultimately startling conclusion, making it an entertaining blend of suspense and uniquely Southern charm.
To enter to win a copy of both books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “valentine,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 18, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.