Yet another murder adds to a restaurant owner’s woes.
Although Sally Solari is kept busy running Gauguin, her popular Santa Cruz restaurant, she still finds time to help her dad at Solari’s, the family restaurant on the pier, and take painting classes together with Eric, the ex with whom she maintains a friendly relationship. When a painting session on a nearby beach leads her dog, Buster, to a body tangled in a pile of kelp, Sally recognizes the dead man as Gino, an older Italian fisherman who frequents Solari’s. Despite her reluctance to get involved in another murder case (A Measure of Murder, 2018, etc.), Sally’s drawn in when she realizes that some people think Gino was drunk after having had dinner with a much younger woman and blame Solari’s for serving him even though his waitress insists he had only two beers and the medical exam indicates he was probably hit on the head and thrown in the water. On top of all that, Sally’s chef, Javier, has announced his plans to start a restaurant of his own with his pastry chef girlfriend, and her father has agreed to serve a big dinner for a celebration of the town’s sister city in Italy and roped Sally in to help, annoying Javier even more. Despite her packed schedule, Sally finds time to do enough snooping to discover that Gino had been acting strangely lately and antagonizing even his old friends. When she finds Gino’s distinctive hat in her dad’s boat, she hides the evidence, afraid that the cops will jump to the wrong conclusion. The hat turns out to help her prove a theory she has about the murder, but her sleuthing puts her in the killer’s sights.
A tasty combination of culinary tidbits, an unusual motive for murder, and appended recipes for ambitious cooks.