The Fragrance of Death (A Sally Solari Mystery)
by Leslie Karst
About The Fragrance of Death
The Fragrance of Death (A Sally Solari Mystery)
5th in Series
Setting – California
Severn House; Main edition (August 2, 2022)
Hardcover : 224 pages
ISBN-10 : 1448309034
ISBN-13 : 978-1448309030
Digital ASIN : B09V878YNB
Restaurateur Sally Solari has a nose for trouble, but when her sense of smell goes missing, it’s not just her career on the line . . . it’s her life.
Restaurateur Sally Solari is a champion, both in the kitchen and on the case, but after getting mixed up in one too many murders, she’s noticed her nonna’s friends have now taken to crossing themselves when they see her in the street. Adding to her woes, a sinus infection has knocked out her sense of smell, making cooking on the hot line difficult, indeed. Nevertheless, Sally is determined to stay out of trouble and focus on her work.
But then her old acquaintance Neil Lerici is murdered at the annual Santa Cruz Artichoke Cook-Off, and her powers of investigation are called into action once more. Could Neil have been killed by the local restaurant owner who took his winning spot at the competition? Or maybe by one of his siblings, who were desperate to sell the family farm to a real estate developer?
Sally plunges headfirst into the case, risking alienating everyone she knows – including the dapper Detective Vargas, who finds her sleuthing both infuriating and endearing. And soon it’s not only her restaurant and tentative new relationship that are on the line – it’s her life . . .
The Fragrance of Death is a non-stop fun cozy mystery that will keep your mind buzzing and your mouth watering, and contains a selection of delicious recipes to cook at home.
Guest Post: Stop and Smell the Coffee—If You Can
The Fragrance of Death, the brand new book in my Sally Solari culinary mystery series, opens with a horror story. Or at least that’s how it feels to Sally, who wakes up on page one to discover she’s completely lost her sense of smell. And I mean completely: not even the stink of a thousand cloves of garlic would be enough to set her olfactory nerves alight.
Since Sally is the owner and sous chef at Gauguin, a trendy French-Polynesian eatery in Santa Cruz, California, having no sense of smell—which translates to having no sense of taste, either—spells disaster for her as a restaurateur. Not to mention as a human being, because there’s nothing she loves more than the flavor of a roast chicken scented with tarragon and butter, or the fragrance of a vine-ripened peach served atop a dollop of raspberry-spiked crème fraîche.
And to make matters even worse, this is the day she’s competing in the annual artichoke cook-off—at which she’d vowed to best her beloved but highly competitive father, who owns Solari’s, a traditional Italian seafood place out on the town’s historic fisherman’s wharf. How on earth can Sally be expected to prepare Artichoke Salad with Lemon Aïoli for two hundred people with no ability to smell or taste a thing?
You may suspect that this plot device is based on the plight of the myriad people who lost their sense of smell as a result of Covid. But no. It was actually inspired by personal experience, something completely unrelated to the pandemic. For I suffered through my own horror story when, some years back, after having a particularly vicious sinus infection, I thought I’d recovered—only to wake up one morning unable to smell a thing.
It’s an exceedingly bizarre experience to brew your morning pot of coffee and then suddenly realize you can’t detect any aroma whatsoever from those beans you’re grinding. And then to bite into the half a hamburger you’ve reheated for breakfast and have your tastebuds register nothing whatsoever—even after you douse the thing with a tablespoon of of Sriracha sauce. (Which is exactly what happened to me that dire morning.)
And then to have my ENT inform me that my sense of smell may never ever return? That it all depended on whether or not the nerves regenerated on their own? Horror of horrors!
I almost balked at throwing such a horrendous experience at my protagonist. After four books, I’d grown quite fond of her, and it seemed somehow, well…mean to saddle her with such a plight. But it is a murder mystery, after all, so I figured she could take it. Sally is a tough gal.
And, after all, my sense of smell did thank goodness eventually return—though not for six long, miserable and excruciating weeks. But you’ll just have to read the book to see what happens with Sally….
About Leslie Karst
Leslie Karst is the author of the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari culinary mystery series. The daughter of a law professor and a potter, she waited tables and sang in a new wave rock band before deciding she was ready for “real” job and ending up at Stanford Law School. It was during her career as a research and appellate attorney in Santa Cruz, California, that Leslie rediscovered her youthful passion for food and cooking and once more returned to school—this time to earn a degree in culinary arts.
Now retired from the law, Leslie spends her time cooking, cycling, gardening, singing alto in her local community chorus, and of course writing. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.
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