Monday, August 1, 2022

Leslie Karst’s "The Fragrance of Death"

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst waited tables and sang in a new wave rock and roll band, before deciding she was ready for ‘real’ job and ending up at Stanford Law. It was during her career as a research and appellate attorney in Santa Cruz County that she discovered a passion for food and cooking, and she once more returned to school – this time to earn a degree in culinary arts. Now retired from the law, she spends her time cooking, singing alto in her local community chorus, gardening, cycling, and of course writing. Karst and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawaii.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Fragrance of Death:
Sally Solari is a fourth-generation Italian, part of the community of fishermen who first emigrated to Santa Cruz, California back in the 1890s. Not yet forty, she’s already experiencing erratic hormones and hot flashes. As a result, she can tend towards over-the-top emotions and sarcasm (though cycling and bourbon help). But she’s also smart, stubborn, and resolute, and rarely takes no for an answer. As a result, when Sally sets her mind on tracking down a murderer, you do not want to be the one who gets in her way.

So what actor should play this spunky gal? Why, Jennifer Garner, of course. Not only does she have the correct build for Sally—tall and lanky with shoulder-length dark hair—but she’s got the right personality, as well: tough-as-nails, but with a sweetness and vulnerability at her core. I’m thinking the Jennifer Garner of Alias fame, where she played Sydney Bristow, a fearless secret agent posing as a mild-mannered bank clerk. And I bet Jennifer would have loads of fun learning the skills of a line cook/restaurateur to prepare for the role!

As for Eric Byrne, Sally’s ex-boyfriend and current BFF, with his charming smile and boyish blond locks, this district attorney who’d far rather be surfing waves than prosecuting criminals should most definitely be played by none other than the eternally youthful Brad Pitt. I mean, c’mon—wouldn’t you pay good money to watch Jennifer Garner and Brad Pitt square off in a bout of snarky jokes and quick repartee?

Finally, I would have dearly loved to see the late Robert Forster as Sally’s father, Mario. With his sweetly gruff manner, he would have been perfect to showcase the hurt that the swaggering, can’t-show-my-feelings fisherman feels when his daughter decides to leave their family’s Italian seafood eatery to take over the trendy, French-Polynesian restaurant, Gauguin, left to Sally by her murdered aunt in book one of the series.

Oh, and speaking of sweetness-and-vulnerability-meet-snark-and-quick-repartees, how fun would it be to score Nancy Meyers as director and Aaron Sorkin as screenwriter for The Fragrance of Death?

I can dream, right?
Visit Leslie Karst’s website.

Coffee with a Canine: Leslie Karst & Ziggy.

--Marshal Zeringue