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The Fragrance of Death: Sally Solari #5    by Leslie Karst order for
Fragrance of Death
by Leslie Karst
Order:  USA  Can
Severn House, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Now that Sally Solari is part owner of her restaurant, Gauguin, she is looking forward to competing in the annual Artichoke Cook-Off on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. She is horrified to discover that because of her recent sinus infection, she has awakened without a sense of smell or taste. She's going to make Artichoke Salad with Lemon Aļoli to give to 200 people who come to her booth, and without the ability to taste her ingredients, she could easily mess up the recipe.

She would have to rely on her helpers to back her up, but she doesn't want to admit to her problem, particularly to her father, against whose established restaurant she'd be competing. She so wants to win a prize, but it is her first competition, so she'd be thrilled with third place in either of the two categories.

She chats briefly with Neil Lerici, who has the next booth over, and whom she remembers from high school - she was good friends with his sister Grace. Unfortunately, Neil doesn't come forward after winning first place in the People's Choice category. Shortly afterwards, his dead body is discovered next to a dumpster behind their booths. Detective Martin Vargas, who will be investigating the murder, asks Sally to keep her eyes and ears open.

Being Sally, she gets involved in the case far more than Martin knows. He has told her in confidence who the suspects are, and all of the Lerici family are on his list. We readers watch Sally as she stumbles from one interfering attempt to another and gathers actual clues without being certain whom they implicate, but we know that in the end she will triumph.

This cozy mystery includes many references to food as well as recipes. I enjoyed this aspect of the book as well as the location of Sally and her cohorts in Santa Cruz, California and nearby haunts, partly because I have stayed in that area and lived in the Bay Area long enough to recognize many of the places that are described.

As I journeyed with Sally on her road to discovery, I could almost smell the ocean, even though we are frequently reminded throughout most of the book of the increased danger to her because of her inability to smell the salty air or anything else. This fourth book in Leslie Karst's series is sure to delight her fans and gain new ones, since we learn just enough of Sally's past escapades to inform the present one.

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