A Measure of Murder:
A Sally Solari Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Crooked Lane Books (February 7, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01KGD6JWS
Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s, and helping Javier plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she’s just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, Sally joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard–and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident.
Now Sally’s back on another murder case mixed in with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin–set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. Can Sally catch the killer before she’s burnt to a crisp, or will the case grow as cold as yesterday’s leftovers?
As if running the front end of her father’s restaurant and taking over her aunt’s restaurant weren’t enough to keep Sally busy she decides to join a local choir. Granted they are performing one of her favorite pieces and it is just for a few weeks of rehearsals and the performance, but taking it on has both her father and her chef a little freaked out. When one of the choir members falls to his death in the middle of the first rehearsal even Sally starts to wonder if it is all too much. The police rule it as an accident but Sally thinks it was murder and so does the victim’s girlfriend. Sally starts doing a bit of investigating and soon she has several suspects. Does she have a recipe to catch a killer? Maybe if she can stay alive long enough to see if her theory is half baked or fully boiled.
In this second installment of the Sally Solari Mysteries, the author takes us beyond the restaurants and introduces several new characters, members of the choir and its director. At first it seemed like too many characters but she quickly focuses in a few that had interactions with the deceased, but still when added to the characters we already knew at the restaurants, it is a lot to keep track of. Several have back stories that we need to learn to follow how they were involved with the deceased and several are holding things back or have secrets that are yet to be revealed.
The variety of characters leads into the flow of the story which is a little rocky at times. The author needs to find ways for Sally to interact with the her suspects and while one comes to work at one of the restaurants, the rest have to be met before, during or after rehearsals and somehow Sally finds time to go on long bicycle rides with another. It was Sally’s use of time that really tripped things up for me. My parents ran a restaurant, doing so takes tons of time even if you had a competent staff. My parents missed out on so many things in my life because they were tied to that business most of the waking hours each day. Sally deciding to take so much time off for the choir and still have time for bike rides and searching for a murderer would stretch a real person way too thin. But this is fiction, so I just needed to suspend reality for a while.
The mystery was solid and the ending was a bit surprising. There was quite a bit of time spent on the musical part of the theme. We followed Sally through the intense training of learning her part and how it related with other parts of Mozart’s Requiem. Not an easy piece to learn. This was in addition to the things Sally was learning about the restaurant she inherited from her aunt. She wants to learn to cook on the line, she needs to learn about ordering, pricing and menus, she needs to deal with staffing issues at both restaurants. For me the murder part of the plot took a back seat just a little too often.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series better than this one. Sally is a strong character but this time she just was not as engaging. In fact, I was just tired “chasing” around with her. The theme was good but Sally’s life needs a little editing to make it at all believable. One person can only juggle so many things. I hope the author narrows her focus in Sally’s story in upcoming books.
You can find out about Leslie Karst on her webpage here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”