Four Cuts Too Many
Sarah Blair Mystery #4
By Debra H. Goldstein
Author’s website: debrahgoldstein.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When it comes to murder, there’s no need to mince words . . .
Sarah Blair gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in culinary school serves up a main corpse in Wheaton, Alabama…
Between working as a law firm receptionist, reluctantly pitching in as co-owner of her twin sister’s restaurant, and caretaking for her regal Siamese RahRah and rescue dog Fluffy, Sarah has no time to enjoy life’s finer things. Divorced and sort-of dating, she’s considering going back to school. But as a somewhat competent sleuth, Sarah’s more suited for criminal justice than learning how many ways she can burn a meal.
Although she wouldn’t mind learning some knife skills from her sous chef, Grace Winston. An adjunct instructor who teaches cutlery expertise in cooking college, Grace is considering accepting an executive chef’s position offered by Jane Clark, Sarah’s business rival–and her late ex-husband’s lover. But Grace’s future lands in hot water when the school’s director is found dead with one of her knives in his back. To clear her friend’s name, Sarah must sharpen her own skills at uncovering an elusive killer.
This very well-written mystery drew me in from the beginning and proceeds at a steady pace. I enjoyed spending time with new characters. It can be read as a standalone as the author offers enough backstory on people and situations. I appreciated learning more about what Sarah and Harlan are doing to help improve the quality of life for shelter companion animals.
Sarah is waiting at the nearby community college to see Grace, a sous chef at Southwind and Southwind Pub, owned by her sister Emily and Emily’s boyfriend Marcus, both accomplished chefs. Grace wanted to see Sarah away from the restaurant, so they are meeting before Sarah goes to work and after Grace finishes teaching her class on knife skills.
It was highly unusual to see Grace upset and disheveled. . . with blood on her apron? Grace told her that the interim chairman of the culinary department, Dr. Martin, came in to observe her class. By the time he was done, he had verbally abused one of her students, threw knives in the air, and a student was almost injured. Sarah’s hand stopped one knife from hitting the student. She sustained a gash, while Dr. Martin had a small nick.
Dr. Martin shouted at the student and Grace, then stepped out. Shaken, Grace dismissed the class, and a student helped bandage her hand. Martin returned, spewed among other things that Grace shouldn’t be teaching due to her personal choices, she’s a terrible teacher, and other vicious words. Grace finally snapped and screamed at him, finishing up with, if he kept acting like that, to not be surprised if one day he gets punched or worse. Being an adjunct instructor, she knows she is at the bottom of the college totem pole, and her words may have ended her brief time there.
Grace asked Sarah to go to her classroom with her and talk while she cleaned up. The student Dr. Martin hollered at blocked the classroom from entry, as campus police and paramedics were on their way. Looking inside, Grace saw the items used in class scattered across the floor and Dr. Martin was bent over a workstation with a small knife sticking out of his neck. He wouldn’t be yelling at anyone again.
Those in nearby offices had heard their argument. There was no love lost for the interim chairman. Most sympathized with Grace, yet they had to tell the police what they saw and heard. Sarah called her boss, Harlan, an excellent attorney, and told him that Grace needed his help. She was right. Grace was the only person of interest, even though she wasn’t in the building when he died. Harlan delayed Grace’s arrest, and Sarah did what she does best – tried to find who killed the hateful man.
I like Sarah and enjoy watching her grow into her own person since her divorce and ex-husband’s subsequent murder. Her refusal to get serious about another guy after ending a ten-year marriage is commendable. She works for Harlan, volunteers at the animal shelter, and helps with their fundraisers. She has also helped solve earlier murders, one being her ex-husband’s. I like Grace, also, who has worked hard and is honest and caring with people in her life.
Many things are going on that Sarah is involved with, including her nemesis Jane trying to put Southwind out of business. Sarah is trying to help Emily with that, consider shelter fundraisers, and the murder. The more questions Sarah asks about department politics and Martin’s family members, the more people she suspects. There are only mere hours left before the sheriff arrests Grace. I could not guess who the bad guy was! The end was very satisfactory, including the situation with Jane, and I am looking forward to the next mystery! I highly recommend this mystery and series!