Books: Food and music feature prominently in Bay Area authors’ whodunits

karst headshot

The Bay Area is home to great food, fabulous scenery, a mild climate and expensive real estate. It is also home to writers who find mysteries an outlet for their storytelling talent.

Leslie Karst, author of the Sally Scolari mysteries, was an attorney before she turned to writing fiction.

“A Measure of Murder” (Crooked Lane Books, $25.99, 336 pages) is Leslie Karst’s second book featuring restaurateur Sally Scolari. Karst, who divides her time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawaii, was an attorney before turning to fiction.

She has created a rounded portrait of a woman faced with a big challenge. To Karst’s credit, she makes the different threads readable and believable.

Solari works in her family’s eponymous Italian restaurant while trying to develop Gauguin, the more upscale restaurant she recently inherited.

She also joins a local chorus, motivated by a chance to sing the Mozart Requiem. Then one of the tenors takes a header out of a window in the church where the choir meets, and Solari thinks the police were too quick to call it an accident.

Trying to balance choir practice and auditions with her two restaurant gigs and her amateur sleuthing is a tough job. Mostly it works, although there’s a chunk where not much happens except for Solari discussing what she’s learned with one character or another.

It will be worth seeing what she does next.

Susan Shea of Marin County looks abroad to the traditional English village mystery, this time set in France in “Love and Death in Burgundy” (Minotaur, $24.99, 272 pages).

Village mysteries have a long and honored tradition in England, going back to Miss Marple and her not-so-mundane life in St. Mary Mead.

Shea sets her tale in Reigny-Sur-Canne, not the most hospitable spot for English ex-pats.

Katherine Goff, an artist, is sufficiently fluent in French to carve out a little place in the village, which is xenophobic in general and anti-German in particular. Katherine’s husband Michael is focused on revitalizing his moribund music career. Other characters include a light-fingered local girl and a visiting teenage boy whose father is a record producer.

A lunch at Katherine’s goes awry when an elderly German-born aristocrat crashes the party to confront a young man-about-town who formerly courted his daughter. Then the old man falls down an ancient staircase in his castle. When the police seem to do little, Katherine decides to help out — or meddle — in the case.

All of the characters have feelings

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment

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