Hummus and Homicide (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)
by Tina Kashian
About the Book
Hummus and Homicide (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)
1st in Series
Kensington (February 27, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Digital ASIN: B071FLH733
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 . . .
Before long the kitchen doors opened again and Lucy’s 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—her sister’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,” Lucy’s mother boasted with pride.
“Customers love it,” her father 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,” her father 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?”
Every summer, Mr. Citteroni’s bike shop rented a variety of bicycles to tourists. Ever since she was a kid, she’d heard stories that he had mob connections in Atlantic City, and his many businesses were how he laundered money.
“He wants the property,” her dad explained.
“Why?” Lucy couldn’t fathom what Mr. Citteroni would do with it.
“He wants to open a high class Italian restaurant, but he’s not the only interested buyer,” her father said.
“A local woman wants to convert Kebab Kitchen into a diner,” Emma said.
“Another Jersey diner? The state is loaded with them. And Ocean Crest already has the Pancake Palace,” Lucy said.
“Don’t forget that Azad’s interested,” their mother announced.
There it was again. His name.
“Why would he want it?” Lucy asked.
“Azad graduated from culinary school and is working as a sous chef for a fancy Atlantic City restaurant. He wants to buy Kebab Kitchen and keep it the way it is.”
Of course, he did. He was perfect. Hand-picked by her parents. He’d started working as a dishwasher for the restaurant when he was in high school. He’d soon worked his way up to busboy, then line cook, and had earned her parents’ respect. Not to mention their hopes of a union with their younger daughter. The pressure tightened in Lucy’s chest.
She glared at her parents. “What will you do if you retire? Where will you go?”
“We’ll stay in Ocean Crest. It’s a peaceful place,” her mother said.
Her father waved his hand toward the window and a view of the calm ocean and blue sky. “After all, what bad things happen here?”
About the Author
Tina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sand castles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.
After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. The Kebab Kitchen Cozy Mystery series launches with Hummus and Homicide, followed by Stabbed in the Baklava and One Feta in the Grave by Kensington Books. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit www.tinakashian.com and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.
- Website: tinakashian.com
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- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16902011.Tina_Kashian
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