Friday, August 18, 2017

Dear Reader, Love, Leslie Karst

Dear Reader… 

Like my amateur sleuth, Sally Solari, I too was once an attorney who’d stare out my office window fantasizing about food and cooking when I should have been busy churning out those endless billable hours. But unlike Sally, my family didn’t own restaurants—nor would I have wanted to make that switch in any case. Two years waiting tables after college, and then later working the hot line during cooking school, had taught me just how exhausting and stressful a career in the food business can be.

Writing, however, was something I did enjoy. Sure, drafting legal memos, motions, and appeals all day long could be mind-numbingly dull and tedious. But writing fiction—especially a story about food—now, that would be fun.

But what sort of fiction? I’d been a fan of mysteries since my teenage years, when my mom handed me an Agatha Christie she’d just finished (Nemesis, I remember it was, because I had to ask her what the word meant). So why not combine my love of the culinary arts with crime fiction and write a food-themed mystery novel?

My town, Santa Cruz, California—once home to Italian fishermen, farmers, and retirees—was by now teeming with punks, hipsters and urban professionals, and the food movement had descended full-force upon the surprised old-timers. As I witnessed the advent of this “foodie” revolution and its effects on our sleepy beach town, it occurred to me that the juxtaposition of these two cultures would make for a terrific backdrop to a mystery story. What would happen if a local Santa Cruz gal suddenly found herself caught between the world of her family’s traditional, old-school Italian restaurant, and that of the newly-arrived, politically-correct food activists?

Thus was born the Sally Solari culinary mystery series.

I should add that, although my mysteries have food, cooking, and restaurants as their primary focus, there’s a secondary theme to each of the books in the series: one of the human senses. The first, Dying for a Taste, concerns (obviously) the sense of taste, and the most recent, A Measure of Murder, delves into the sense of hearing—more specifically, choral music.

As with my character, Sally, one of my own favorite musical compositions is the sublime Mozart Requiem. But in addition, the piece seems tailor-made for a mystery novel, as the Requiem itself is surrounded by secrets and mystery: who commissioned it, who completed it after Mozart died, which parts were composed by whom. So, truly, how could I resist?

I hope you enjoy reading the Sally Solari mysteries as much as I enjoy writing them.

Buon appetito!

Leslie Karst

Buy the books on Amazon and Powell's

About the Author:

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. She now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. 

Synopsis of A Measure of Murder:

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?

In a stew of suspects and restaurateurs, trouble boils over in the second in Leslie Karst’s tasty and tantalizing Sally Solari mystery series, A Measure of Murder.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dear Reader, Love Greg Messel

Dear Reader…

I love books that transport you to a place you’ve never been before. 

In my new mystery thriller “San Francisco Nights” I attempt to do that as we travel back in time to San Francisco in the late 1950s. It’s a world where you can fill up your big-finned car for 25 centers a gallon and the average cost of a home in pricey San Francisco was only $30,000. 

Everyone watched lots of Westerns on their televisions but there was also a cool private eye show called “77 Sunset Strip.” People at the beaches in California listened to the music of Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka and the Fleetwoods on their transistor radios. The hit song of the summer was Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.” Moviegoers flocked to the old movie palaces in San Francisco to watch “North by Northwest,” “Some Like It Hot,” and “Pillow Talk.” 

All things seemed possible in post war California and everyone could own a house and with a little luck you might have an orange or lemon tree in your backyard. 

Ike was in the White House and Alaska and Hawaii were about to become the 49th and 50th states. But the Cold War was in full swing and Americans worried the Soviets were watching them using their Sputnik satellite. 

My mystery series is about two private detectives, Sam and Amelia Slater  who have a knack for solving cases but also have a knack to getting themselves into a lot of trouble. I love to use actual historical events and famous people to occasionally interact with my fictional characters. 

In September of 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev visited the United States. President Eisenhower wanted him to come to Washington D.C. and go to Camp David with him. Krushchev had other ideas. The ruthless Communist dictator wanted to go to Disneyland. 

His security detail put the kibosh on that plan but the Soviet leader still visited Los Angeles, got to visit Hollywood and meet some stars and then took a train trip to San Francisco. 

Along the way, Krushchev did a whistle stop at San Luis Obispo much to the surprise of the local police and the hundreds of people at the small train station. As Krushchev walked among the crowd a woman lost her high heeled shoe and the Soviet leader retrieved it for her and helped her get it back on. 

This strange stop and encounter recorded in the San Luis Obispo newspaper actually happened. 

In “San Francisco Nights” private eyes Sam and Amelia Slater are traveling to a friend’s wedding in San Luis Obispo and I took the literary license to have Amelia be the woman who lost her shoe and had the encounter with Krushchev. 

A key plot point in “San Francisco Nights” involves the limits of 1959 “technology.” We are used to TV shows and movies, like the Bourne series, CSI or Hawaii 5-0 where the cops are in constant contact with one another, with perfect Wi-Fi connections through invisible ear pieces. 

In 1959, Sam and Amelia need to stay in touch as they pursue a blackmailer across the city. The only option they have is walkie talkies, which have a limited range and spotty coverage due to the hills and high rise buildings in San Francisco. 

It makes their task much harder than it needs to be. There’s also a problem with phones. If you call someone and they don’t answer you ca’t leave a message. You don’t know if that person is away for five minutes or five days. 

Sometimes the “good ole days” weren’t so good. 

I hope you enjoy the trip back to the 1950s. 

About the Author

Greg Messel has spent most of his adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and has contributed articles to various magazines. Greg lives in Edmonds, Washington on Puget Sound with his wife Jean DeFond.

Greg has written ten novels. His latest is "San Francisco Nights" which is the seventh in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. "Shadows In The Fog," "Fog City Strangler," "San Francisco Secrets," "Deadly Plunge" are sequels to the first book in the series "Last of the Seals." His other three novels are "Sunbreaks," "Expiation" and "The Illusion of Certainty." For a more detailed summary of Greg's novels go to 

Greg is currently working on his eleventh novel "Dreams That Never Were" which is not part of the mystery series.



About the Book:

Author: Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Pages: 232
Genre: Mystery / Suspense

The wife of a wealthy San Francisco shipping magnate leads a secret life but someone is threatening to expose her.  Private eye Sam Slater and his wife and partner, Amelia, meet a mysterious woman in a large red hat during a train trip. The woman approaches him pleading for help because she‘s receiving anonymous notes quoting Bible verses which are becoming more and more ominous with each passing day. Her secrets have been discovered but by whom? What really happens behind closed doors in Room 505 in a swanky downtown hotel?

Sam is willing to take the case but Amelia warns that this woman is nothing but trouble. What does the woman really want? She’s been watching Sam for months and has a scheme to pull him into her world. 

Find out in the latest Sam Slater Mystery “San Francisco Nights” set in the fall of 1959. It’s the seventh book in the series but is a heart pounding stand alone whodunit. 

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dear Reader, With Love, Del Corwyn

Dear Reader,

My name is Del Corwyn. I’m your hero in Beautiful Mess, a new novel by John Herrick. You might wonder why I wouldn’t allow John to write this letter. The simple answer? I’m my own man. This is my life story. And as messy as life can get, at least I can say I control my own destiny.

Oh, the memories I’ve had in Hollywood! I started my career as an errand boy for a major studio. They shipped me to London, where I served Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. They told me not to screw it up. But you know what happened? Marilyn became one of my closest friends. A mentor, if you will. She trusted me. I was with her during vulnerable moments, the moments most people didn’t know she endured. She was ten years older than I was, so I didn’t have the answers for her, but we navigated through life together. When she died in 1962, the news tore my heart in half. 

Fast-forward to today. I’m a 78-year-old actor. I was nominated for an Academy Award in the 1970s but lost to Richard Dreyfuss. What’s that? You don’t remember me? Well, join the club. That happens to me often these days. Anyway, my next film was a failure at the box office and critics shunned it. My career took a nosedive.

Now, forty years later, I’m on the verge of bankruptcy, but the ladies still love me. Go figure. I’m still waiting for that elusive comeback. It’ll happen. Even if I have to die fighting for it.

I’ll admit, my greatest fear is that I’ll be forgotten. Lost in history, like that French schmuck who won an Oscar for The Artist without saying a word in the film. But not long ago, I uncovered an envelope Marilyn gave me a few months before she died. It contained an original screenplay Marilyn penned herself, with encouragement from her ex-husband, Arthur Miller.

Overnight, the tables have turned! My destiny is about to reverse course.

Hollywood is buzzing—and I’m the new kingmaker. I’ve shot to the top of the A-list. And I swear to you, never again will the public forget Del Corwyn.

My journey also involves a last chance at love, and two friends in their 20s and 30s: the industry’s hottest new actress, and an online wellness coach who is full of sh*t but has a good heart. Some might say that coach and I have some traits in common.

Want to know what happens with Marilyn’s script? Want to see a side of Marilyn Monroe you might not know existed? Well, I don’t work for free! You’ll need to read Beautiful Mess to find out.


Del Corwyn (and my writer, John Herrick)

P.S. Prepare yourself for a killer cameo from my buddy Clint Eastwood. Badass!

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers. The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his next novel, Between These Walls.

Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.

His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy. Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

Connect with John Herrick on the web: