Hummus and Homicide is the debut of the Kebab Kitchen Mystery series set in the small town of Ocean Crest, NJ and featuring patent attorney Lucy Berberian. Having been passed over twice in two years for a promotion to partner at her law firm, in favor of a man, Lucy quits her job and returns to her hometown.
Intending only to spend a little time in Ocean Crest until she can find a new job, Lucy quickly finds herself working back in her family restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, alongside her parents Angela and Raffi and sister, Emma. Lucy is shocked to discover that her parents are hoping to sell the restaurant and retire, and that the two people vying for the business are her ex boyfriend Azad Zakarian and Anthony Citteroni, the owner of the bike shop next door with reputed ties to the mob.
Things go downhill rapidly when high school nemesis and mean girl Heather Banks, now the town health inspector, makes a visit to Kebab Kitchen and dishes out a slew of health code violations. The Berberian's have never had one violation in their thirty plus years and Lucy is irate. When Heather turns up dead after dining on a meal of Angela's famed hummus, all fingers point to Lucy. Determined to clear her name and save her family reputation, Lucy sets out with the help of best friend Kate Watson to track down a killer.
A fine tuned plot that serves up a host of suspects, delightful characters, a touch of romance, mouthwatering food and an adorable stray cat. A twist at the conclusion will leave readers salivating for the next in the series.
Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian is the first story in A Kebab Kitchen Mystery series. Lucy Berberian is returning home to Ocean Crest, New Jersey after quitting her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia. Lucy's parents own Kebab Kitchen and can certainly use her help in the restaurant since they are down a waitress. Lucy is happy to reconnect with her friend Katie Watson. Lucy is staying with Katie and her police officer husband, Bill while she is in town. Lucy is surprised to learn that her parents are contemplating selling the restaurant. They already have three potential buyers that include Lucy's former boyfriend, Azad Zakarian. The one thing marring Lucy's enjoyment at being home is Heather Banks. Heather was the mean cheerleader girl in high school, and now she is the new health inspector. She quickly learns that Heather has not changed one iota since high school. Heather comes to do an inspection of the premises before the restaurant can be listed for sale and, despite the cleanliness of the facility, she lists nitpicky (and bogus) violations. The next day Heather returns to eat from the new hummus bar (which she criticized the day before). After Heather departs, Lucy takes the trash outside and finds Heather dead in the back-parking lot. Detective Clemmons is assigned the case, but he holds a grudge against the Berberian family (thanks to Lucy's sister). Raffi, Lucy's father, wants her to investigate Heather's death and find the culprit before their business is ruined. Lucy, with help from Katie, retraces Heather's steps the day she was killed and delves into Heather's life looking for suspects. Who disliked Heather enough to murder her? The bike shop owner, a restaurateur, the mob boss, the suspense author who was dating Heather, or the loan shark? Join Lucy in her investigation in Hummus and Homicide.
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.