Molten Death By Leslie Karst: Review/Giveaway/Mother’s Day Recipe

May 11, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy & Leslie Karst

This week we are reviewing Molten Death By Leslie Karst, and we have a Mother’s Day recipe from Leslie. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

Molten Death by Leslie Karst
Review by Sandra Murphy

Valerie and her wife Kristen are in Hawaii as a way for Valerie to begin to recover from the death of her brother, Charlie, in a fiery car wreck. Kristen visited years before she met Valerie and made friends with Isaac. Now the couple are Isaac’s houseguests.

While most people picture Hawaii as sunny, they’ve run into constant rain since their plane landed. Although the rain stopped, one thing won’t change—the area is made up of volcanic black rock. Isaac says they need to see the lava flow since the island is also an active volcano—not the most comforting thought.

Valerie lags a bit behind when they approach the viewpoint. Careful where she steps, she sees lava creep over what surely can’t be someone’s leg? By the time she could call Kristen and Isaac, the leg, and presumably the body attached to it, disappeared under the molten rock. Do they believe her or think her mind played a trick on her?

To convince Kristen and Isaac, and maybe herself, of her sanity, Valerie investigates. The report of a missing man spurs her desire to prove the truth. Her questions lead her to small time drug dealers, black market avocados, a geothermal plant, a jealous wife, and betrayed husbands. As their vacation days dwindle, Valerie worries, will she find the truth before it’s time to return to Los Angeles?

This is the first in a new series. Valerie and Kristen are a good match although, like any couple, they do get on each other’s nerves now and again. Luckily, their differences don’t ruin a good relationship. Isaac knows the area and is a good host. His speech varies from schoolteacher English to the more casual pidgin phrases but it’s easy to understand. There’s a glossary at the back of the book to help if readers are curious. Recipes for a mai tai, poke three ways, grapefruit and avocado salad with papaya-yogurt dressing, miso-sesame chicken, kalua pork, and papaya chutney are included.

Karst paints the sounds and smells of the islands onto the page without disrupting the story. My favorite part starts, “And then she heard the train.” The two paragraphs that follow are pure poetry and will transport readers onto the island in the blink of an eye. I hope this is the start of a long running series.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

A Recipe for Mothers’ Day
by Leslie Karst

Leslie Karst

Happy Mothers’ Day to you all! My mom is no longer with us, but in her honor, today I’m sharing the recipe for one of her very favorite foods. Mom adored the Big Island of Hawai‘i, as well as all the local foods enjoyed by its residents, and poke was at the top of her list. (This recipe, as well as others inspired by the cuisine of the Hawaiian Islands, can be found in my new Orchid Isle mystery, Molten Death.)

Sesame-Shoyu Poke
(Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as an appetizer)

Poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is a delectable dish prepared with marinated, raw fish—often ahi tuna—similar in some ways to ceviche. It is thought to have been made by ancient Polynesians centuries before Western contact, who prepared it with local reef fish, seaweed, crushed kukui nut (candlenut), and sea salt. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that the name “poke” (Hawaiian for “sliced crosswise into pieces”) was given to the dish, and not until the 1990s that it became well known outside of Hawai‘i. Poke’s rise in popularity is due largely to the efforts of Hawaiian chef and television personality, Sam Choy, who tirelessly promoted the local delicacy and even started a poke contest, an event still held each March in Kona, on the Big Island.

Modern poke recipes commonly include shoyu (soy sauce) and roasted sesame oil, ingredients brought to the islands by Japanese and Chinese immigrants, as well as new innovations such as avocado, kimchee, and Sriracha mayonnaise.

Sesame-Shoyu Poke

sesame-shoyu poke


1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
4 tablespoons green onions, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons yellow or white onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoon sesame seeds


If your tuna has a dark bloodline running through it, cut this away and discard, as it has an unpleasant flavor. You’ll need about 1 ¾ pounds of ahi that contains a bloodline in order to end up with 1 ½ pounds of useable fish.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, at least ½ hour (or up to 6 hours) before it’s time to eat. Serve it with crackers or chips as an appetizer, or over steamed rice for a traditional “poke bowl.”

You can click here to purchase this book.

To enter to win a copy of Molten Death, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “molten” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 18, 2024. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

Leslie Karst is the author of the Orchid Isle Mystery Molten Death, of the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari series, and of Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG. When not writing, you’ll find her cooking, cycling, gardening, and observing cocktail hour promptly at five o’clock. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Hilo, Hawai‘i and Santa Cruz, California.

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.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Sounds intriguing!

  3. Have never tried poke, but am going to Kona in January, so guess I’d best be giving it a try soon. Thanks for the push!

  4. Great to get in on the beginning of a series.
    thanks for the recipe. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the poke recipe. I love poke! 🙂

  6. I’ve been to Hawaii one time and enjoy reading books that take place there!

  7. Love the Hawaiian setting. Looking forward to reading the book.

  8. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.