When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu . . .
Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.
She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect . . .
About the Author
Rachel Dulude is an actor and book narrator based in Providence, Rhode Island. She has been recording audiobooks since 2012 in genres ranging from young adult to adult thrillers. As an actor, she has performed with the Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence and the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Read an Excerpt
Ocean Crest, New Jersey
"Lucy Berberian! Is that you?"
Lucy's car was stopped at a red light when the excited shout caught her attention. Her gaze turned to the crosswalk, and she lowered her sunglasses an inch to peer above the rim. A tiny old lady with an abundance of gray curls was pushing a rolling cart filled with groceries. She waved. One of the plastic bags stuck out from the cart and flapped in the breeze.
Lucy glimpsed the name Holloway's printed on the bag — the sole grocery store in the small New Jersey beach town. "Hello, Mrs. Kiminski," she called out her open window.
The old lady smiled, revealing pearly white dentures. "You're visiting? Your mama will be so happy."
No doubt her mother and father would be thrilled when they learned Lucy was back, not only for a visit, but longer. Lucy swallowed hard. She'd hit the first stop light out of three in town and already her nerves were getting to her. It felt like a corkscrew was slowly winding in her stomach the closer she came to her destination. And to him.
Don't think about it.
The light changed, and Lucy waved as she continued down Ocean Avenue. Parking spots in the town's main street were vacant in late April, and only a few people strolled about. The tourist season wouldn't begin until Memorial Day. A month later and the town would be crammed with seasonal tourists, and a parking spot would be hard to find.
Lucy drove past a ramp leading to the town's mile-long boardwalk, and she spied the Atlantic Ocean between two buildings — a blue line to the horizon. The Jersey shore was in Lucy's blood. She'd been born and raised in Ocean Crest, a tiny town located on a barrier island about six miles north of Cape May. Even off-season the scent of funnel cake drifted from one of the boardwalk shops and through her window. The bright morning sunlight warmed her cheeks, and she spotted the single pier with a Ferris wheel and an old- fashioned wooden roller coaster. Soon the Ferris wheel would light up the night sky and the piercing screams from the coaster would be heard from a block away.
The small ocean town was so different from the rapid pace of the Center-City Philadelphia law firm and apartment she had grown accustomed to over the last eight years. But now that part of her life was done, and she needed to figure out what she was going to do next. When her work had thrown her a curveball, returning home had come to mind. Other than hasty holiday visits, she hadn't stayed for longer than a weekend.
A few blocks later Lucy parked before a quaint brick building with a flower bed bursting with yellow daffodils and red tulips. A lit sign read Kebab Kitchen Fine Mediterranean Cuisine.
A flash of motion by the front door caught her eye as soon as she killed the engine. Gadoo, the calico cat with yellow eyes her mother had adopted when he kept coming around the restaurant, cocked his head to the side as if to say, What took you so long to come home? and then swished his tail and sauntered down the alley.
Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car, then pushed open the door to the restaurant.
The dining room was empty and the lights were dimmed. Sunlight through the front windows shone on pristine white tablecloths covering a dozen tables and a handful of maple booths. Small vases with fresh flowers and unlit tea light candles in glass votive holders rested upon the pressed linen. Cherry wainscoting gave the place a warm, family feel. The ocean shimmered from large bay windows and seagulls soared above the water. The delicious aroma of fresh herbs, fragrant spices, and grilled lamb wafted to her. It was only ten o'clock in the morning, well before the restaurant opened for lunch, and that meant her mother was preparing her savory specials.
Lucy walked forward and stopped by the hostess stand. The place hadn't changed since she was a kid. As a young child, her mom carried her around to greet customers and kiss the staff. When she was eight, she started rolling silverware in cloth napkins and refilling salt and pepper shakers. Lucy eyed the cash register behind the counter with its laminated dollar bill showcasing the first cash the restaurant took in as well as the required heath department notices that hung on the wall. A low wall separated a waitress station from the dining area, and a pair of swinging doors led to the kitchen. She recalled her days as a hostess and cashier, seating customers and handing them menus, then ringing them up to pay on their way out. A waitress pad sat on a nearby table, and she remembered how excited she'd been as a teenager the day her father promoted her from hostess to waitress. The cash tips had helped pay for her prom gown.
Footsteps sounded on the terra cotta tiles. Lucy turned to see her older sister carrying a tray of sparkling glasses.
"Lucy! What are you doing here?" Her sister set down the tray on a nearby table.
Lucy smiled and embraced her warmly. "Hi, Emma. I've come for a visit."
At thirty-seven Emma was five years older than Lucy. Lucy had always been a bit envious of her sister who was slim and attractive with long, curly brown hair. She weighed the same as she had since college, and she'd never had to worry about how many carbs or pieces of pita bread she consumed. "How's Max?" Lucy asked.
Emma wrinkled her nose. "He's the same. The king of real estate in town. He works a lot and is never around."
Emma tended to frequently complain about her husband, but they had a ten- year-old daughter they adored. "And my little niece Niari?"
"Most of the time Niari's great," Emma said. "She's good in school and likes soccer. But she's also a tween who can drive us crazy. I dread the puberty years to come."
Lucy chuckled. "I imagine we drove Mom and Dad nuts as teenagers."
Emma perched on the edge of a table and crossed her arms. "How's work? I'm surprised you could get away."
Lucy cleared her throat. "Well, that's just it. I have some time to —"
"Lucy Anahid Berberian!"
Lucy whirled to see her mother and father emerge from the swinging kitchen doors. Her Lebanese, Greek, and Armenian mother, Angela, had olive skin and dark hair that she'd styled in a beehive since the sixties. Her Armenian father, Raffi, was a portly man of average height with a balding pate of curly black hair. Both had arrived in America on their twenty-first birthdays, met months later at a church festival, and married soon after. They'd meshed cultures and languages, and Emma and Lucy were first-generation Americans with ethnic roots as strong as her parents' prized grapevine clinging to its trellis.
Lucy found herself engulfed in her mother's arms, flowery perfume tickling her nose. The large gold cross — the one piece of jewelry her mother never left the house without — was cool as it pressed against Lucy's neck. Her mother was a tiny woman, only five feet tall even with her beehive hairdo, but she was a talented chef and a smart businesswoman.
Angela passed Lucy to her father, and Lucy smiled at his bear hug and the light scrape of his whiskers as he brushed her cheek with a kiss. He released her to study her face and grinned. "My little girl, the big city lawyer."
Her mother touched Lucy's arm. "It's Tuesday. Shouldn't you be at work?"
Lucy's insides froze for a heart-stopping moment. "I'm taking a vacation," she blurted out.
Why did she have to sound so nervous? She'd rehearsed the perfect excuse over and over in her car on the way here.
"A vacation?" Angela folded her arms across her chest. Her gaze filled with suspicion as it traveled over Lucy from head to toe, taking in the worn jeans, Philadelphia Eagles T-shirt, and Nike sneakers.
Lucy's attire was far from her normal business wear, but it was surprising how quick a week of unemployment could affect one's desire to dress in anything but yoga pants or jeans.
"It's true," Lucy said. A small streak of panic ran through her at her mother's continuing inquisitive gaze.
"Well, it's about time." Her mother nodded curtly and unfolded her arms from across her chest. "That law firm works you too hard. You only visit for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. You stay two, maybe three days, and then you're off again. Plus" — she eyed Lucy with an admonishing glare — "you didn't visit last Mother's Day."
Lucy's pulse quickened. Here it was. Her family's ability to layer on guilt. She'd always made an effort to visit for the holidays, but the truth was she didn't always want to come home. The smothering could be as thick as the sugar syrup on her mother's baklava — sticky, sweet, and as effective as superglue.
"You know I had a big case and couldn't take time off. You could have visited me," Lucy said.
"Bah!" Raffi said with a disgusted wave of his hand. "What company makes its employees work so many weekends? And you know we don't like to drive into the city."
Lucy knew crossing the Delaware River via the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia was like traveling to another country for her parents.
"How long is your vacation?" Emma asked.
"A month." At their stunned looks, Lucy quickly added, "It's really what we call a sabbatical." She wasn't ready to admit she was no longer employed. Knowing her parents, they'd think she was home for good. Why give them false hope?
"You'll stay with us. I'll tidy your room," her mom said.
Heck no. Seeing her parents was good, but living with them was something else entirely. "I'm staying with Katie and Bill, Mom."
Her mom hesitated and glared at her as if she'd been denied access to Lucy's firstborn. Katie Watson was Lucy's long-time friend. When Lucy had called her to tell her that she was coming home and staying for a while, Katie had offered for Lucy to stay with her and her husband, Bill, an Ocean Crest police officer.
"Fine," Angela finally said. "I've always liked Katie, and she comes from a good family."
Raffi cracked a wide grin. "You came at a good time, Lucy. With Memorial Day in less than a month, the tourist season will begin. Millie left to have a baby. We need your help."
Lucy's smile faded. Millie had worked for her parents as a waitress for years. From what Lucy recalled, Millie had married right out of high school and started having kids. Was she on baby number four by now?
"It's her sixth boy," her dad answered as if reading her mind. "We need a waitress. We're already short for today's lunch shift."
Lucy felt as if she were being sucked back into the fold like quicksand; no amount of professional accomplishments mattered. Family helped family, and their expectations could be stifling and overwhelming. It was partly why she'd fled years ago.
But she was older and more experienced now. "Dad, I don't think —"
"You can borrow Millie's apron and Emma's clothes," Angela said.
Good grief. Millie's apron was one thing. But how would she fit into her skinny sister's black pants and white shirt? Lucy was bigger than Emma in every way. From her breasts, to her hips, and definitely her derriere.
Angela pulled out a chair. "Sit. You're too thin." She glanced at Lucy's father behind her shoulder. "Raffi, please bring Lucy something special to eat. We can catch up while we wait."
Her dad disappeared through the swinging kitchen doors.
Lucy rolled her eyes as she sat. Their mother never seemed to notice any physical differences between her two daughters. To her, everyone appeared in need of food.
Emma smiled mischievously as she set a glass of water in front of Lucy. "Good luck," she whispered, then followed their father into the kitchen.
Lucy inwardly groaned as her mother pulled up a chair beside her. She didn't need her sister's warning. She knew what was coming as soon as she spotted the gleam in her mother's eyes. The maternal message was clear. Let's talk about how old you are and remind you that your biological clock is ticking louder than a pounding drum and that you should be married and birthing my grandchildren by now.
Her mother patted her hand. "You know I think you work too hard."
Once again, a nagging guilt pierced Lucy's chest for not revealing the truth. "It's okay. I'm home for a while now, remember?"
Angela's face lit up. "Good. We need to focus on finding you a husband."
"Mom," Lucy whined. "I'm not opposed to marriage, but only if the right man proposes. Meanwhile, my career is important to —"
"Posh," her mom said, waving a hand. "A career doesn't keep you warm at night when you get old. Granted, men are far from perfect. Your father is a good example," she said, motioning toward the kitchen, "but he's there."
Lucy wrinkled her nose. She didn't consider herself a romantic, but she'd hoped for more than just there when it came to a man.
"I saw Gadoo," Lucy said, hoping to change the topic.
Angela always loved to talk about the cat. "He waits for me every morning by the back door. Actually, he's waiting for his breakfast. As long as I feed him, Gadoo keeps coming."
Gadoo was Armenian for cat. Not very original, but it fit the patchy orange and black calico cat with yellow eyes.
Before long the kitchen doors opened again and her father emerged with a large shish kebab platter and set it before her. Two skewers of succulent lamb and a skewer of roasted peppers, tomatoes, and onions were accompanied by rice pilaf and homemade pita bread. The aroma made her stomach grumble and her mouth water.
Lucy may not have missed her mother's lectures about husband hunting, but damned if she hadn't missed the food. She picked up a warm piece of pita bread, then stopped. "Is there hummus?"
Her gaze followed Emma's pointing finger. "You have to see our newest addition."
Lucy stood and looked toward the corner of the restaurant where a long sidebar stood. She hadn't noticed it earlier. At first glance, it looked like a salad bar, but instead of lettuce, tomatoes, and salad, bins of hummus were displayed, each tray a different variety.
"Specialties of the house, and all my own flavors. Roasted red pepper, extra garlic, Mediterranean herb, lemon pucker, artichoke, black bean, sweet apricot, and of course, my own recipe of traditional hummus," Angela boasted with pride.
"Customers love it," Raffi said.
Lucy carried her plate to the bins full of the creamy dips and added a large spoonful of traditional hummus next to the pita bread, then returned to her seat. "Wow! Business must be good, Dad." She dipped a piece of pita into the hummus and shoved it into her mouth.
Heaven. The lemon blended with the garlic, chick peas and sesame seed puree perfectly, and the texture was super-creamy.
Silence greeted her. Lucy looked up from her plate to see all three members of her family staring at her. "What's wrong?" she mumbled.
Emma broke the awkward silence. "Dad wants to sell."
Lucy nearly choked on a mouthful before managing to swallow it down. "Sell?"
"Not right away, but I've been thinking about it," Raffi said.
An uncomfortable thought crossed Lucy's mind. Her gaze swept him from his balding head of curly black hair to his sizeable belly back to his face. "Are you sick?"
His brows furrowed. "No. I'm old."
The irony was not lost on her. Less than an hour ago she was hesitant to set foot in the place. But selling the restaurant? For thirty years, ever since her parents had opened it, Kebab Kitchen had been the center of their lives, socially and economically. What would they do without it?
"But I don't understand why —"
"I have no sons or sons-in-law who want it. Emma doesn't have a head for business, and Max is into real estate." Her father eyed Lucy hard, his glare cutting through her like one of his prized butcher knives. "If you'd married Azad Zakarian this wouldn't be a problem."
Lucy's stomach bottomed out at the mention of the man her parents had so desperately wanted her to marry. He was one of the main reasons she'd left to take the job in the Philadelphia law firm. It had taken months, years, to dull the heartache. Her throat seemed to close up as she felt the all-too-familiar pressure from her parents' unreasonable expectations — that the ultimate fate of the restaurant rested upon her shoulders and that she had to be the one to keep everything together. Lucy reached for the water glass and took a big swallow.
"Dad, stop," Emma said. "No sense nagging Lucy. Max has a buyer."
Lucy sat upright at the name. "The bike man next door to the restaurant?"
Excerpted from "Hummus and Homicide"
Copyright © 2018 Tina Sickler.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Enjoyable read. Believable characters. Mystery. Surprise ending.
An easy read for vacationing by the beach. I would allow my teenage grandchild to read this book, it was so sweet and Judy Moody ish.
Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian is the first book in the new cozy series, Kebab Kitchen Mystery. This series introduces Lucy Berberian who has returned home to Ocean Crest, New Jersey after a major disappointment. She has recently been passed over as a partner in the law firm she works in after being stabbed in the back by a co-worker. She has returned home to regroup and figure out what direction she wants her career to go next. Lucy’s family runs a Mediterranean Restaurant called the Kebab Kitchen. When she comes home, Lucy finds that the family business is up for sale, and her parents need her to help out while they look for a buyer. Shortly after her return, the new health inspector, Heather Banks, visits and gives them a bad report with several trumped up violations, however, this does not stop her from eating before she leaves. When Lucy takes the trash out later that night, she stumbles over her dead body and when it is determined that she was poisoned, the restaurant is the suspected source, therefore Lucy's family is under the magnifying glass. As any good daughter would, Lucy decides to find the real killer. I enjoyed meeting Lucy and her hometown friends. Lucy and her family felt like very real people, and I enjoyed following along in Lucy’s footsteps as she searched for a killer. Katie is a wonderful best friend who is willing to help Lucy in any way, even though she is married to a local policeman. Enter Michael, the son of the local mobster, who makes quite the impression on Lucy. There’s a touch of romance mixed into the mystery, but the main focus of the story is on the mystery. We learn that Heather was not very well liked by a number of people and had a few vices that left her open to unsavory characters. It was hard for me to narrow it down to one culprit, until shortly before the reveal. I thought I had it all figured out, and once again, the twists showed me that I was wrong once again. I enjoy a story that keeps me guessing. Overall this was a very good story, but somewhat bland. There was not a lot going on, just a lot of questioning. I am sure that with this being the first book, there is a lot of character development as well as community building, but with this out of the way, I expect big things for the next book. If you love hummus, this book will have you drooling as they talk about the hummus bar and various flavours and recipes. Be sure to check out the recipes in the back of the book. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
I think I'll read another of her books. I enjoyed the story thoroughly and it help my attention.
I really enjoyed this first cozy mystery in Tina Kashian's Kebab Kitchen Series. Attorney Lucy Berberian returns home to Ocean Crest, NJ, after leaving her job in Philadelphia, only to become quickly embroiled in a murder investigation after the health inspector is found dead in the parking lot of her family's restaurant. To clear her family's name Lucy must deal with the mob, an unpleasant police detective, and her ex-boyfriend. A+++
This is a great cozy! The characters were likable and relatable from the start. Tina did a great job getting this series started, giving you just a bit of background with room to wonder and I've never been to the east coast but this town sounds so awesome I wish I could visit! The mystery was a page turner and the story progressed perfectly! I can't wait to start the next one! This will definitely be a series I follow.
Lucy Berberian had quit her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia when she didn't make partner. She came home to Ocean Crest, NJ and her parents' Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen and started filling in as a waitress while living with her best friend Katie and Katie's husband, Bill, who happened to be on the police force. Of course, no trip home is ever complete without a run-in with a high school nemesis. Lucy and Heather Banks had an argument, then Heather showed up as the new health inspector who promptly found numerous things in violation. Imagine Lucy's surprise when later, going out to the trash can, she found Heather's dead body out back of the restaurant. Lucy just knew that the police would suspect her since she not only had been last to see her alive, she'd done the serving of her food and drink. Katie, being the awesome best friend she was, wasn't going to let Lucy sleuth alone, and the two of them set off to find out some very interesting things, one of which, the police didn't even know. There was a good twist towards the end, so I won't go into anything that happened, except everything worked out for the best and people were happy. Now I'm really anxious to see what comes next--good thing I've pre-ordered the next two books! I loved this author's first cozy mystery! I'm not sure what she wrote under her other name but this book was very well written, great plot and some fun and interesting, as well as likable, characters. When I can feel right at home with characters after only a few chapters, I know the author has done their job well. If you read the acknowledgements in the back of the book, you'll see that Lucy's life mirrors the author's life somewhat. Great job, Tina Kashian, I can't wait to visit Ocean Crest in the next book!
First, the food in this book is amazing and took everything I had not to drool on the pages! Thank you for including your own hummus recipe, so easy to make!! I loved the down to earth characters and the personalities of each. Our protagonist, Lucy, struggles to come back home to her small town, filled with friends and family, after having been out on her as a big city patent lawyer. Coming back home is never easy and to top it off, one of Lucy's not so favorite high school rivals is found dead, at her family restaurant. What follows is a fun, get to know your neighbors, friends and family who-done-it, ultimately focusing on family and the ties that bring us home and the sacrifices we make. I really look forward to the next installment in this series and eagerly await to see how life unfolds for Lucy back home.
Hummus and Homicide was a fantastic read. I loved the characters, especially Lucy, & the descriptions of the food made me almost drool. Hummus and Homicide is the first book in A Kebab Kitchen mystery series & I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Lucy Berberian quits her law firm when she doesn't make partner, as she had been expecting. She returns home to the small town of Ocean Crest, New Jersey and her family's Mediterranean restaurant. She quickly becomes involved in the day to day business of the restaurant while finding time to see many old friends and family. Lucy finds the body of an old school rival who happens to be the new health inspector that just gave the family restaurant a list of items that must be fixed in order to pass inspection. Lucy and the family restaurant soon top the list of suspects forcing Lucy to start asking questions of her own, at the urging of her family. What a great start to a new series. I felt like I was following Lucy around throughout the restaurant and town as she followed all the clues to help catch the murderer. I am very much looking forward to the next book in this series, which I have just pre-ordered.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Hummus with a side of Homicide. That is what Lucy Berberian has to deal with shortly after returning home to Ocean Crest. When she quit her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia she hoped to come home, lick her wounds, and decide what her next career move would be. But now she is the prime suspect in the murder of Heather Banks, one of the high school in-crowd from when she and Lucy were in high school. She was now the local health inspector who had just written up a ton of violations for Lucy’s parent’s restaurant, The Kebab Kitchen. She also had loud words with Lucy soon after she arrived in town, in front of several witnesses. Those reasons, plus the victim happened to eat a whole lot of hummus at the family eatery right before she died means Lucy and her parents could lose everything. The Berberian family had Lucy’s life all planned for her, work at the restaurant, marry the dishwasher soon to be chef, and take over the family business when her parents were ready to retire. She had other plans, she went to college and law school and took a job with a Philadelphia firm hoping to make partner. When her law career didn’t go as planned they welcomed her home with open arms. This theme is real, believable, and traditional of many families in the restaurant and other family businesses. These characters have depth and their dialogues are delightful. I was drawn into the story immediately by them as soon as they were introduced. From the title I knew the method of death would be poison and it would be in the hummus, but beyond that, the entire investigation was a surprise. The suspect pool was pretty limited by who was in the restaurant or had access to the restaurant, most being family. I enjoyed following along with Lucy and her BFF Katie as they tried to find the actual killer. Twist after twist made this a tough mystery to solve. It was very well plotted by the author to lead this reader off the right track. I was totally blown away when the killer was revealed. The story had a steady pace that picked up as we got closer to the big reveal. Ms. Kashian has introduced us to some very captivating characters. I am excited to get to know them better in future stories. I love the romantic triangle that is just starting to evolve for Lucy. I also enjoyed her friendship with Katie, whose husband happens to be a police officer. Together they make a nice team and you know they have each other’s back no matter what. This is an excellent start for this series. Stabbed in the Baklava will be released August 28, 2018. I can hardly wait.
A delicious start to a new series. HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE has me hungering for more! I just love starting a new series, by a new to me author, and before I finish page one, I’m hooked. And by the end of the first chapter, I can’t put the book down. Author Tina Kashian has done that with this first installment in her Kebob Kitchen Mysteries! I love that HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is set on the east coast. The little town of Ocean Crest, New Jersey reminds me of my summers at the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware. With the book’s opening talking about the smell of funnel cake, seeing the Ferris Wheel on the pier, and the mile long boardwalk, I was yearning to jump in my car and head to the beach! Protagonist Lucy Berberian is a wonderful new cozy lead. Her parents, and friends are a wonderful balance of personalities, that play well off of Lucy. And then there’s the mystery. I was so happy to see this victim get what was coming to her. Of course, Lucy investigates into why Heather was killed. I mean, she died after eating at Lucy’s parent’s restaurant. There are a lot of suspects that wanted the victim dead. But it took the reveal for me to know who the killer was, and why he/she wanted the victim dead. Fast moving, with a great plot, and yummy recipes in the back of the book, HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is a book you’ll want to add to your reading list!
the start of a delectable new mystery series HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE by Tina Kashian The First Kebab Kitchen Mystery After being passed over for promotion yet again, Lisa Berberian quits her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia and returns home to the Jersey Shore for an extended visit. Despite a warm welcome from friends and family, who are pleased to have her helping out in the family restaurant, Lisa has a run in with her old high school nemesis, who has just taken over from her father as health inspector. Although her father never found fault with the Kebab Kitchen, Heather amasses numerous bogus citations. What could be worse than that? Heather being found dead behind the restaurant, with her death being ruled suspicious. Will the detective put his grudge against the Berberian family aside and find the real killer or will Lisa be charged with murder? The first Kebab Kitchen Mystery is all about family and coming home. It's about sticking together, even after being apart; a balance between nostalgia and moving with the times. Richly detailed writing makes me feel as if I'm in the midst of all the action while plenty of humor and the right amount of drama flavor this tasty mystery. Lisa is a smart likable protagonist with a good head on her shoulders. Although charged by her father to solve the murder, Lisa knows when to investigate and when to call in the professionals. The rest of the characters are as interesting and varied as the flavors of hummus Angela creates, some traditional, some spicy, some tart, and some a bit nutty. HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is the start of a delectable new mystery series. I urge you all to dig in! Recipes included. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
Tina Kashian debuts on the cozy mystery scene with a delightfully multi-cultural cast and setting. Hummus and Homicide joins the ranks of other recent ethnically-diverse cozies such as Leena Clover’s Meera Patel series and Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mysteries – and I love it! Lucy Berberian is a first generation American (meaning her parents immigrated to the States before she was born) with a rich cultural background. Both parents have Armenian roots, while her mother also claims Lebanese and Greek heritage. Family is key – and food is central. Yummy food like kebabs and hummus and stuffed grape leaves and warm-from-the-oven pita bread. My mouth is literally watering right now, y’all. The murder mystery is very well-constructed, and just when I thought I had it figured out Lucy and her investigative skills proved me wrong. Lucy’s love life has a couple of intriguing possibilities for future books in the series – her first love Azad (who wants her back) or the hot new guy Michael (who totally rocks the bad boy vibe). I’m pulling for Azad but we’ll see where the story takes them. Her relationship with her best friend Katie is fun, too, and they make a great sleuthing team. The way Katie conveniently took off work whenever she wanted to seemed a tad unrealistic but it still added to the overall charm of their friendship – and to Katie’s character itself. Bottom Line: Hummus and Homicide is charming and well-written, setting things up nicely for the rest of the series and keeping readers invested in Lucy and her life. The murder plot is nicely paced and full of twists and turns and red herrings, and the characters are layered and endearing. I would love to hang out at the Kebab Kitchen with its warm atmosphere and tantalizing food. Looking forward to book #2! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
There are so many wonderful things I liked about this book, I'm not sure I contain my excitement. This is my first book I've read by the author and oh my is it delectable, delicious and down right amazing. I want to move to Ocean Crest and hang out at the Jersey Shore. The description of the place was so realistic I had no problem visualizing it. I could hear the screams coming from people on the roller coaster and smell the delicious aroma of food as I dashed off to the Kebab Kitchen. I am a huge fan of hummus and just reading about the different varieties made me want to run to the store. I confess I did have hummus and crackers while reading the book. The author has convinced me that I need to find a Mediterranean restaurant and take in the rich flavors and exception dishes they have to offer. Lucy is one great character. I loved that she came home to her parents when things didn't work out for her as a lawyer. It felt comfortable for her to be back home and be surrounded by an amazing family. Her parents were so sweet and gracious that I wanted them to adopt me. Rumors start to swirl that the family business is being put up for sale. I think that kind of shocked Lucy and made her start thinking of how important the restaurant is to the family. As in every cozy mystery there is always a murder and I try to figure out who the victim will be. The hints are there in the story but it sure does start an avalanche of trouble for Lucy and her family. I know if I had an inspection coming up, I would make sure everything was so clean you could eat off the floor. The inspection should be no worries for the Kebab Kitchen since they always pass with flying colors. What they are not prepared for is someone dying after eating at the restaurant. Lucy is determined to get her name off the suspect list and keep the restaurant open. I wont go into more details because you need to read the book to see how gifted the author is.I do want to mention one thing. The details of a poison in the story was like hearing it from an expert. The author's research is profound and I learned a lot about the subject. It was extremely fascinating and valuable to the story line. Her writing is outstanding as the murder investigation heats up. I really thought I knew who did it, but was so surprised when the guilty person was revealed. It is an adventure that takes you behind the scenes of how a restaurant works to the different shops in town that made the town so quaint. Is someone trying to give Kebab Kitchen a bad name? Will Lucy escape harm as her life is put in danger? I did really enjoy the hint of several interested men that have taken a shine to Lucy. It is a bit of a cliffhanger for me which I will be anxiously awaiting to be answered in the next book. I leave you with a high recommendation to grab this book, settle down with some snacks and get ready for an exciting journey. Don't miss the recipes at the end of the story. I received a copy of this book from The Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. The review is my own opinion.
Hummus and Homicide is nicely written and has a steady pace. I like that the author sets the stage for the series by giving us Lucy’s background and introducing us to her family and friends. The mystery was interesting, but the killer can easily be discerned early in the book (one detail is the key). There are some interesting suspects that Lucy questions. I just wish that there had been more action. If Lucy is going to continue to be a sleuth, she needs to work on her questioning technique. Her queries sounded more like accusations. Lucy also has a temper (triggers easily) and loose lips. You can tell that Tina Kashian (aka Tina Gabrielle) has written romance novels. We have Lucy’s ogling her romantic interests. She admires the attractive and handsome Azad (many times) and appreciates Michael Citteroni’s physique. The family kept pushing Lucy and Azad together trying to rekindle their romance. I prefer romances that progress slowly over the course of a series and for it not to overshadow the mystery element. As usual, there was repetitive information (Cooking Kurt’s show was mentioned five times for example). Hummus and Homicide was a typical cozy mystery where the main character returns home, someone dies, she investigates and solves the crime, there are love interests, potential sidekick, the amateur detective is inept in her questioning, and the main character realizes she likes being home and is going to stay. There are some nice cozy moments in the book. You can tell that Lucy’s family loves her and the mother is especially happy that her daughter has returned to Ocean Crest. My rating for Hummus and Homicide is 3 out of 5 stars. I will check out Stabbed in the Baklava when it releases in August. Hummus and Homicide is just the first book in the series, and I hope Tina Kashian ups her game in the next book in A Kebab Kitchen Mystery series. There are recipes (hummus) at the end of Hummus and Homicide.
I always look forward to a first in series. I enjoy getting a feel for the setting and learning a bit about the protagonists, their outlook on life and how they handle relationships and the inevitable obstacles. You know that being unofficial investigators they are bound to irritate someone in law enforcement. Well, Tina Kashian has does an outstanding job with this first novel. Her characters are developed and the mystery is not overly simplified. It is not predictable or trite. She gives us more than enough suspects with motive, means and opportunity. Not only was Heather, the victim, one of the mean girls in high school, she wields her power as health inspector to get her desired ends. Sadly, there are good people around her that allow her to get away with her actions. Lucy is at a crossroads in her life. Passed over for a promotion at her law firm and not seeing her life plans falling into place, she returns home to find out her parents are ready to retire and sell her childhood home, the family restaurant. Lucy has to figure out where her loyalties fall and what her new plan and direction will be. Her mother wants to see Lucy married and settled before they retire. So you can tell there is more going on here than a simple murder mystery. It is a well rounded story and the series has potential for excellent growth.
This first book in the brand new Kebob Kitchen Mystery series is a delightful insider’s view into a first generation American growing up in the household of immigrant parents and their Mediterranean restaurant in Ocean Crest, New Jersey. Lucy Berberian “escaped” from her upbringing after earning a law degree. While she loves her family she also felt the need to get away from their traditional views, especially on marriage, after her failed relationship with Azad Zakarian while in college. But after losing her job in Philadelphia, she ends up back in her family’s restaurant, put back to work the minute she returns. She’s never been able to tell her parents “no”. It doesn’t take long for Lucy to have a run-in with the new health inspector, who just so happens to be her high school nemesis. When the health inspector dies shortly after eating at the Kebab Kitchen, Lucy’s father begs her to clear their name and save the family business, because “family helps family”. HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is a story about coming home and discovering yourself. It’s a story about finding happiness where you least expect it. And a story about accepting your family for who they are and not for who you’d like them to be. I enjoyed learning about the different culture that Lucy grew up in and I loved all the mentions of Armenian and Mediterranean foods! Lucy and her family have good character development and made me want to spend time with them to get to know them better. Lucy’s best friend, Katie, is a worthy side-kick and provides great support. The mystery was well plotted and had a good pace. There were several people who had good reason to want the health inspector dead and the author explores the potential of each suspect. With an exciting finale, each of the threads of the plot and subplots are woven together leaving the reader well satisfied. The author, Tina Kashian, actually grew up in her family’s Armenian restaurant. She shares several of her family’s recipes at the back of the book, all which sound fabulous. I was provided an advance copy via Netgalley with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Lucy Berberian is back in her hometown of Ocean Crest, New Jersey, while she tries to figure out what to do next in her life. While she is reconnecting with family and friends, she is also working at her parent’s restaurant, Kebab Kitchen. Her high school nemesis, Heather Banks, is now the health inspector, and goes out of her way to make trouble for Lucy. However, after eating at the restaurant’s hummus bar, Heather dies in the parking lot. With business declining and Lucy the prime suspect, Lucy begins to search for answers. What happened to Heather? This series is off to a good start. Lucy has a great collection of family and friends, although I did feel that her parents could be better fleshed out. We see hints of more here, something I hope is developed further as the series progresses. The mystery is solid with several believable suspects and plenty of secrets. The ending surprised me and kept me turning pages. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
The first book in the New Kebab Kitchen Mystery series introduces us to Lucy Berberian, who has returned home to the Jersey Shore and her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. After being passed over for promotion, Lucy quits her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia and heads home to her old life Ocean Crest. It’s like nothing has changed. Her mother is still trying to marry her off, her BFF still lives there, and one of the mean girls from high school, Former cheerleader Heather Banks, Is still in town. Only Heather is now the health inspector who fails her family restaurant in an inspection, and then turns up dead the next day. Maybe you can go home again, but don’t expect that the rules of the game are still be the same. As a prime suspect, and to save her family‘s Business, Lucy‘s parents expect her to solve the mystery by fingering the true murder. As usual, her mother’s expectations guilt Lucy into doing exactly what she’s been asked. Now she needs to find The murder and save the family business. Homicide and Homicide took this Jersey girl right back to the shore of her own youth. Having many Armenian and Greek friends that I grew up with in the area, I felt like I was visiting home myself as well. This is a great start to a new series. I’m looking forward to where the future takes Lucy and her friends a
Lucy Berberian was passed over for partner for the second time in her eight years of working in a law firm in Philadelphia...one too many. She is back in her hometown of Ocean Crest on the Jersey shore for a short time until she decides what she wants to do. Almost immediately, she is thrown into helping out at her family's Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen. Things get complicated when an old high school classmate and new Health Inspector dies in the Kebab Kitchen parking lot after eating in the restaurant. It is suspected that she ingested something that killed her. Lucy was the waitress who served her. Heather and Lucy didn't get along and Lucy is a suspect. Lucy has to find the real killer and her best friend, Kate, is right by her side in the search. Heather had enemies in the restaurant industry and she had other problems and a boyfriend. To make things a little more complicated, Lucy's parents want to sell the restaurant and this broadens the suspect pool. Business is down. Maybe someone wants it for a cheap price. Family friend and chef, Azad, and Lucy were an item during college but he dumped her. Azad is interested in buying the restaurant and he is interested in Lucy again. Why? Another thing that is complicating the situation is the fact that Kate's husband Bill is a cop on the force. Hummus and Homicide is a good cozy mystery with a food theme and great sounding food that might make you hungry. As the girls follow the trail of clues, it is hard to determine who the killer is and how it was committed. There is a surprise ending that it totally out there and unforeseen. It is fun to read a whodunit that is a total surprise. I recommend this book for those who enjoy good mysteries with a food theme. I am glad to see that it is the first in a series and look forward to more. Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hummus and Homicide is the first in a new series by Tina Kashian. I enjoyed this story very much. It had all the makings of a great cozy mystery, wonderful characters, a mystery that was interesting and kept me guessing and it was well written. Lucy Berberian is returning to her family restaurant after leaving her position as a patent attorney. Her parents are thrilled that she has returned, since it's their dream that she take over the restaurant. Their dream and Lucy's aren't quite the same, but when an untimely death happens on their property, everything Lucy has come to know could be quickly taken away. The author told a story of honor, love, loyalty and friendship. The mystery was exciting and I was wrong about who the murderer was!! I enjoy reading a story that reflects part of the author's life. It makes the story more believable. The food descriptions were mouthwatering and I am now looking forward to trying some hummus! I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hummus and Homicide releases on February 27th so be sure to grab your copy. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.