MURDER FROM SCRATCH is the fourth book in the Sally Solari Mystery series by Leslie Karst. I’ve read the previous three books and have greatly enjoyed the way she’s focused on one of the five senses in each book. However, this book is my favorite so far and I feel that the author has found her stride. Restauranteur Sally Solari may be the protagonist, but the author manages to integrate Sally’s blind cousin, Evelyn, effectively into the story. I was fascinated by the details brought into play, showing the reader how a blind person lives and accomplishes day-to-day things that the rest of us take for granted. I was pleased that Evelyn is not a figure to pity, but instead is a fully developed character who is inspirational. Well, I did pity Evelyn because her mother was murdered, but the young woman manages to move forward and try to do everything she can to find the truth. I admire the way Ms. Karst focuses on the strength of family, especially when Sally takes in her orphaned cousin, despite not knowing her, because “nothing trumped famiglia.” She provides heartwarming scenes that tug at the heart and pulls the reader into the story.
Sally is becoming quite skilled at juggling her restaurant, Gauguin, along with employees, friends, and family, while hunting down suspects who may have wanted her aunt dead. Her hunt gives the reader a peek at the cutthroat practices of the restaurant business… and it’s brutal. Even though the police rule the death as a suicide, Sally perseveres and starts asking questions based on her cousin’s observations using senses that have been greatly developed due to her lack of sight. There were plenty of people who might have had issues with Sally’s aunt and I had a difficult time guessing the correct suspect as the story unfolded. With the reveal, Ms. Karst wrapped the story up in an exciting manner that had me turning pages until I read the very last word.
As a restauranteur, Sally cooks some amazing dishes and the reader will be drooling throughout the entire book. I love that the author provides several savory recipes at the back of the book and they all sound company-worthy. I was drawn to the recipe for Spotted Prawns with Harissa Sauce. Aside from some prep work that can be done ahead of time, this dish quickly cooks and looks impressive when served. The explosions of flavors in the dish complement each other, providing a delectable meal that will earn the home chef rave reviews!
Restaurateur Sally Solari’s cousin Evelyn may be blind, but she can see all too clearly that her chef mother’s death wasn’t an accidental overdose―she was murdered.
Santa Cruz restaurateur Sally Solari’s life is already boiling over as she deals with irate cooks and other staffing issues at the busy Gauguin restaurant. The rainy December weather isn’t cooling things down, either. So she’s steamed when her dad persuades her to take in Evelyn, her estranged blind cousin whose mother has just died of a drug overdose.
But Evelyn proves to be lots of fun and she’s a terrific cook. Back at the house she’d shared with her mom, Evelyn’s heightened sense of touch tells her that various objects―a bottle of cranberry juice, her grandfather’s jazz records―are out of place. She and her mom always kept things in the same place so Evelyn could find them. So she suspects that her mother’s death was neither accident nor suicide, no matter what the police believe.
The cousins’ sleuthing takes Sally and Evelyn into the world of macho commercial kitchens, and the cutthroat competitiveness that can flame up between chefs. In Leslie Karst’s scrumptious fourth Sally Solari mystery, Sally will have to chop a long list of suspects down to size or end up getting burned.
A special thanks to Crooked Lane Books for providing a winner with a hardcover copy of MURDER BY SCRATCH. Contest ends Monday, April 22, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
Gauguin prepares this recipe with spot prawns (a kind of large shrimp) because of their sweet, almost lobster-like flavor and because the seasonal harvest is limited and sustainable, thus allowing for the health of the species. But if you can't find spot prawns, feel free to substitute a different variety of shrimp (just be sure to check with your seafood supplier to learn which varieties are deemed the "Best Choice" the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program). We peel the shrimp before cooking but leave the tails intact for eye appeal and added flavor.
Harissa is a spicy North African condiment made from roasted hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway, and other spices. Tubes or jars of this paste can be found in most supermarkets in the United States, but if you can't locate it, feel free to substitute another hot chili sauce such as sriracha (to which you could add cumin, coriander, and caraway to make for an even better substitute). If you are sensitive to spicy food, use only half the amount of harissa specified, then taste and add more if needed.
This dish is best served with steamed basmati or jasmine rice, and would pair nicely with a crisp green salad.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, halved, then thinly sliced (about 1 pound)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 pound raw spot prawns or other shrimp, peeled (with tails intact)
- 2 seedless oranges, peeled and white pith removed, then cut into chunks
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add onions and sauté until they soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions start to brown.
Pour in the lemon and orange juices and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Then add the butter and harissa and toss to incorporate.
Once the butter has melted, add the prawns/shrimp and sauté until they turn from white to pink. Add the orange chunks and toss just long enough for them to heat through.
Season with salt and pepper, and serve garnished with the chopped cilantro.
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I was provided an advance copy with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I have not been to Santa Cruz but I’ve heard it’s beautiful and would love to someday visit.
No, I’ve never visited the Santa Cruz area.
No, I’ve never visited the area before.
Oh my, how delicious those shrimp look. No I haven’t been to Santa Cruz but find any place amazing to read about.
Thanks for this opportunity to partake in the giveaway.
Never visited over on that coast.
Thank you for this opportunity! I would love this book!
I’ve been to CA but not the Santa Cruz area. After reading the Sally Solari books, I wish we’d taken extra time to visit it.
I have not visited Santa Cruz before, but it sounds like a great destination!
I love this series?!!!
Oh yes, Santa Cruz is practically at my back door. Lived in San Jose for years and now Antioch. Lots of time on the beaches.
Hubby & I traveled thru the Santa Cruz area probably 50 years ago. Although hubby is originally from CA, and we had 2 different Air Force assignments in CA, we haven’t been back much. And when we do go visit his brother that is more southern/central area.
This shrimp dish looks and sounds good.
I have but it’s been years. A big chunk of my childhood was in Southern California.
No I’ve never been to Santa Cruz. But i would like to and also love prawns!
Yes years ago so lovely.
I’ve heard many good things about Santa Cruz, but I haven’t been there.
We drove through it and My grand daughter had a field hockey game there. Thank you for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Murder From Scratch.
Thank you, Kim, for your kind and thoughtful review of my new book. And love the video of the cooking technique! Good luck to all the commenters; wish you could all win!
I’ve never been to Santa Cruz, but I’d love to visit.
Haven’t been in the area for life 40 or so years. Used to live in CA. Still have relatives in Santa Ana. We often would lunch in Santa Cruz on our way down. Visit the boardwalk and it’s attractions. We would leave very early so we could have 2 or 3 hours there. In 1977 we had a family reunion there. The Great Dipper and the walking tour were, are favorites. Recipe looks delish and we are shrimp lovers. Sadly. Finished up our batch yesterday. So will have to wait til Friday before we can have all that’s needed to try this great looking recipe. The book looks every bit as interesting.
“Have you visited the Santa Cruz area before?” Alas, I have not!
No I have never been to the Santa Cruz area
I have never visited Santa Cruz before (or been to California). I hope to make it their someday!
No I have never visited that area.
I’ve never been there but I’d like to visit it when both of us are retired. Buy a newer car and go cross country visiting friends and relatives all over.
I’ve never been to that area before, but would love to visit!
No, I have never visited Santa Cruz.
No, I’ve never visited Santa Cruz.
No I have never been to Santa Cruz
I have not visited the west coast, so no on Santa Cruz.
We went to the beach at Santa Cruz once when I was in 4th grade.
I’ve never been to Santa Cruz, hopefully some day I will get a chance to visit. Thanks for this amazing chance.
I have visited Santa Cruz before. I’m a proud Army brat and my Dad was stationed at Fort Ord, CA for 9 years. Santa Cruz is a beautiful place and somewhere I would like to revisit sometime in the future.
Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “MURDER FROM SCRATCH”.
I don’t remember going to Santa Cruz but we spent three weeks touring in CA many years ago so it’s possible. Wish I did have memories of that area as it sounds wonderful! Congratulations on this release. Hoping to get your book and spreading the wind! Thank you!
Never been to Santa Cruz, but love the northern CA coast.
No I haven’t I’d like to someday. The recipe looks delicious and the book so interesting.
I have never been to Santa Cruz but I have heard great things about it how beautiful it is. I would love to go one day.
I have never been to Santa Cruz.
Yes I have visited the Santa Cruz area before!
I haven’t been to that area for about 20 years.
No I have not visited.
Have never been to the area
I’ve never been to Santa Cruz.
Yes we have and it’s very pretty. Thanks for the chance to win!
I have visited Santa Cruz, but it was over twenty years ago. It was gorgeous!
No I’ve never visited that area before but I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Thank you for the chance!
I’m goofing to give this recipe a try this weekend.
No, I have never visited Santa Cruz. After reading the many beautiful places there I could visit, I will put this place on one of my travel spots! Thank you for the opportunity to win at this giveaway!
I have never been to the Santa Cruz area. Thank you for the recipes, this one is a definite make at our house! Sounds delish!