Why Is Murder on the Menu, Anyway? [NOOK Book]


"What is it with you and murder victims?"

When Drew Scoones asks the questions, Teddi Bayer listens. Her latest decorating job for a restaurant spoiled by a murder, Ms. Bayer might just have to submit to the detective's line of interrogation. After all, her life depends on it.

With a mafia don who's a little too interested in our crazed housewife, it seems as if everyone's got their eye on the Long Island spitfire. Observe the Botoxed mother ...

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Why Is Murder on the Menu, Anyway?

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"What is it with you and murder victims?"

When Drew Scoones asks the questions, Teddi Bayer listens. Her latest decorating job for a restaurant spoiled by a murder, Ms. Bayer might just have to submit to the detective's line of interrogation. After all, her life depends on it.

With a mafia don who's a little too interested in our crazed housewife, it seems as if everyone's got their eye on the Long Island spitfire. Observe the Botoxed mother who can still wound at thirty feet with just a look and a daughter whose bat mitzvah is a disaster in the making.

If Teddi can't save herself, then the dreamy detective slowly putting the screws to her is the next best thing. But she's got questions of her own. Like, where are the handcuffs, anyway?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459236042
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,293,614
  • File size: 631 KB

Read an Excerpt

Design Tip of the Day "Ambience is everything. Imagine eating foie gras at a luncheonette counter or a side of coleslaw at Le Cirque. It's not a matter of food, but one of atmosphere. Remember that when planning your dining room design."


"Now, that's the kind of man you should be looking for," my mother, the self-appointed keeper of my shelf-life stamp, says. She points with her fork at a man in the corner of The Steak-Out Restaurant, a dive I've just been hired to redecorate. Making this restaurant look four-star will be hard, but not half as hard as getting through lunch without strangling the woman across the table from me. "He would make a good husband."

"Oh, you can tell that from across the room?" I ask, wondering how it is she can forget that when we had trouble getting rid of my last husband, she shot him.

"Besides being ten minutes away from death if he actually eats all that steak, he's twenty years too old for me and—shallow woman that I am—twenty pounds too heavy. Besides, I am so not looking for another husband here. I'm looking to design a new image for this place, looking for some sense of ambience, some feeling, something I can build a proposal on for them."

My mother studies the man in the corner, tilting her head, the better to gauge his age, I suppose. I think she's grimacing, but with all the Botox and Restylane injected into that face, it's hard to tell. She takes another bite of her steak salad, chewing slowly so that I don't miss the fact that the steak is a poor cut and tougher than it should be. "You're concentrating on the wrong kind of proposal," she says finally. "Just look at this place, Teddi. It's a dive. There are hardly any other diners. What does that tell you about the food?"

"That they cater to a dinner crowd and it's lunch-time," I tell her.

I don't know what I was thinking bringing her here with me. I suppose I thought it would be better than eating alone. There really are days when my common sense goes on vacation. Clearly, this is one of them. I mean, really, did I not resolve just a few months ago that I would not let my mother get to me anymore?

What good are New Year's resolutions, anyway? Tony, the owner of The Steak-Out, approaches the man's table and my mother studies him while they converse. Eventually he leaves the table in a huff, after which the diner glances up and meets my mother's gaze.

I think she's smiling at him. That or she's got indigestion. They size each other up.

I concentrate on making sketches in my notebook and try to ignore the fact that my mother is flirting. At nearly seventy, she's developed an unhealthy interest in members of the opposite sex to whom she isn't married.

According to my father, who has broken the TMI rule and given me way Too Much Information, she has no interest in sex with him. Better, I suppose, to be clued in on what they aren't doing in the bedroom than have to hear what they might be.

"He's not so old," my mother says, noticing that I have barely touched the Chinese chicken salad she warned me not to get. "He's got about as many years on you as you have on your little cop friend."

She does this to make me crazy. I know it, but it works all the same. "Drew Scoones is not my little 'friend." He's a detective with whom I—"

"Screwed around," my mother says. I must look shocked, because my mother laughs at me and asks if I think she doesn't know the "lingo."

What I thought she didn't know was that Drew and I actually had tangled in the sheets. And, since it's possible she's just fishing, I sidestep the issue and tell her that Drew is just a couple of years younger than me and that I don't need reminding.

I dig into my salad with renewed vigor, determined to show my mother that Chinese chicken salad in a steak place was not the stupid choice it's proving to be.

After a few more minutes of my picking at the wilted leaves on my plate, the man my mother has me nearly engaged to pays his bill and heads past us toward the back of the restaurant. I watch my mother take in his shoes, his suit and the diamond pinky ring that seems to be cutting off the circulation in his little finger.

"Such nice hands," she says after the man is out of sight. "Manicured." She and I both stare at my hands. I have two popped acrylics that are being held on at weird angles by bandages. My cuticles are ragged and there's blue permanent marker decorating my right hand from carelessly measuring when I did a drawing for a customer.

Twenty minutes later she's disappointed that the man managed to leave the restaurant without our noticing. He will join the list of the ones I let get away. I will hear about him twenty years from now when—according to my mother—my children will be grown and I will still be single, living pathetically alone with several dogs and cats.

After my ex, that sounds good to me.

The waitress tells us that our meal has been taken care of by the management and, after thanking Tony, complimenting him on the wonderful meal and assuring him that once I have redecorated his place people will flock here in droves (I actually use those words and ignore my mother when she looks skyward and shakes her head), my mother and I head for the restroom.

My father—unfortunately not with us today—has the patience of a saint, hard-won from years of living with my mother. She, perhaps as a result, figures he has the patience for both of them and feels justified having none. For her, no rules apply, and a little thing like a picture of a man on the door to a public restroom is certainly no barrier to using the john. In all fairness, it does seem silly to stand and wait for the ladies' room if no one is using the men's.

Still, it's the idea that rules don't apply to her, signs don't apply to her, conventions don't apply to her. She knocks on the door to the men's room. When no one answers, she gestures to me to go in ahead. I tell her that I can certainly wait for the ladies' room to be free and she shrugs and goes in herself.

Not a minute later there is a bloodcurdling scream from behind the men's room door.

"Mom!" I yell. "Are you all right?"

Tony comes running over, the waitress on his heels. Two customers head our way while my mother continues to scream.

I try the door, but it is locked. I yell for her to open it and she fumbles with the knob. When she finally manages to unlock it, she is white behind her two streaks of blush, but she is on her feet and appears shaken but not stirred.

"What happened?" I ask her. So do Tony and the waitress and the few customers who have migrated to the back of the place.

She points toward the bathroom and I go in, thinking it serves her right for using the men's room. But I see nothing amiss.

She gestures toward the stall, and, like any self-respecting and suspicious woman, I poke the door open with one finger, expecting the worst.

What I find is worse than the worst.

The husband my mother picked out for me is sitting on the toilet. His pants are puddled down around his ankles, his hands are hanging at his sides. Pinned to his chest is some sort of Health Department certificate.

Oh, and there is a large, round, bloodless bullet hole between his eyes.

Four Nassau County police officers are securing the area, waiting for the detectives and crime scene personnel to show up. I was hoping one of them would turn out to be Diane, my best friend, Bobbie's, sister, who knows how to handle my mother better than probably anyone except my dad. Anyway, she's not here and the cops are trying, though not very hard, to comfort my mother, who in another era would be considered to be suffering from the vapors. In the twenty-first century, I'd just say she was losing it. That is, if I didn't know her better, know she was milking it for everything it was worth.

My mother loves attention. As it begins to flag, she swoons and claims to feel faint. Despite four No Smoking signs, she insists it's all right for her to light up because, after all, she's in shock. Not to mention that signs, as we know, don't apply to her.

When asked not to smoke, she collapses mournfully in a chair and lets her head loll to the side, all without mussing her hair.

Eventually, the detectives show up to find the four patrolmen all circled around her, debating whether to administer CPR or smelling salts or simply to call the paramedics. I, however, know just what will snap her to attention.

"Detective Scoones," I say loudly. My mother parts the sea of cops.

"We have to stop meeting like this," he says lightly to me, but I can feel him checking me over with his eyes, making sure I'm all right while pretending not to care.

"What have you got in those pants?" my mother asks him, coming to her feet and staring at his crotch accusingly. "Bay-dar? Everywhere we Bayers are, you turn up. You don't expect me to buy that this is a coincidence, I hope."

Drew tells my mother that it's nice to see her, too, and asks if it's his fault that her daughter seems to attract disasters.

Charming to be made to feel like the bearer of a plague.

He asks how I've been. "Just peachy," I tell him. "I seem to be making a habit of finding dead bodies, my mother is driving me crazy and the catering hall I booked two freakin' years ago for Dana's bat mitzvah has just been shut down by the Board of Health!"

"Glad to see your luck's finally changing," he says, and he stares at me a minute longer than I sense he wants to before turning his attention to the patrolmen, asking what they've got, whether they've taken any statements, moved anything, all the sort of stuff you see on TV, without any of the drama. That is, if you don't count my mother's threats to faint every few minutes when she senses no one's paying attention to her.

Tony tells his waitstaff to bring everyone espresso, which I decline because I'm wired enough. Drew pulls him aside and a minute later I'm handed a cup of coffee that smells divinely of Kahlúa.

The man knows me well. Too well.

His partner, Harold Nelson, whom I've met once or twice, says he'll interview the kitchen staff and goes off toward the back of the restaurant with a nod of recognition toward me. Hal and I are not the best of friends.

Drew asks Tony if he minds if he takes statements from the patrons first and gets to him and the waitstaff afterward.

"No, no," Tony tells him. "Do the patrons first." Drew glances at me like he wants to know if I've got the double entendre. I try to look bored.

"What it is with you and murder victims?" he asks me when we sit down at a table in the corner.

I search them out so that I can see you again, I almost say, but I'm afraid it will sound desperate instead of sarcastic.

My mother, lighting up and daring him with a look to tell her not to, reminds him that she was the one to find the body.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2007

    A Delightfully Witty Mystery

    After her husband tried to drive her crazy, her mother shot said husband, and her first client got herself murdered, things could only go up for Teddi Bayer. However, she probably shouldn¿t have taken her mentally unbalanced mother with her when she went to dine at the restaurant that was to be Teddi¿s latest client, as it was inevitable that it would be a meal to end in disaster. Not surprisingly, when Teddi¿s mother discovers a body in the bathroom she only compounds the trouble by having taken the man¿s ring earlier in the hopes that it would lead to a future ¿meeting cute¿ with Teddi. Once again, Teddi is thrown in the path of Detective Drew Scoones, who despite having had one torrid encounter with Teddi disappeared from her bed and her life. And while the last time Teddi stumbled over a body Drew seemed intent on tossing her best friend in jail, this time he has his sights set on Howard Rosen, a restaurant critic, Teddi¿s frequent dinner date, and the perfect man with whom Teddi should be falling in love. With Drew grating on every nerve and yet causing her heart to flutter, Teddi is unable to resist investigating to protect Howard hopefully finish her decorating job before its owner also gets implicated. The appearance of a mafia don who seems to want to both protect and intimidate her, an ex who continues to plague her, and a mother determined to drive Teddi crazy, she¿s definitely got her hands full. The destruction of the site of her daughter¿s Bat Mitvah is the topper that just might push Teddi over the edge, especially with her daughter-the-martyr and mother who only predicts doom. Published by Harlequin Next, this extremely funny novel will appeal to mystery lovers with its complex plot and eccentric characters. Teddi Bayer is a woman who feels as though she missed out on the Secret Handbook of Long Island Rules and will never fit into their world of Botox, manicures, and perfect hair. Here¿s to hoping that she never does and instead remains a delightfully sharp-tongued, independent, and very witty amateur sleuth.

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