Monday, March 4, 2019

Hummus and Homicide (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)

Author:  Tina Kashian
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; [Audio CD]; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781496713476; [9781541468382]
Kensington Publishing; [Tantor Audio]
320 Pages
$7.99; $21.72; $5.99 Amazon
February 27, 2018


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.


Lucy Berberian leaves her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia to return home, but hasn't told her parents the entire story.  The minute she returns her mother expects her to help out at the restaurant - a place she hates and couldn't wait to leave; but when she comes across her old enemy Heather Banks - who made her miserable in high school - she realizes that it's not over when she finds out Heather is the new health inspector.

To make matters worse, Heather finds all sorts of violations at the restaurant, when her father, the previous inspector, never found a single one in thirty years.  Lucy knows it's only out of vindictiveness.  But then Heather is found dead outside the restaurant, and she's been poisoned.  Now Lucy is on the hot seat, suspected of killing her.  She enlists the help of her best friend Katie to help her find out who killed Heather before she's sent away for the crime...

I wanted to read this because it sounded from the blurb that it might be a great series to begin reading.  However, there's things I couldn't get past and others I just didn't like.  First off, calling Gadoo the cat her mother's pet is a little off the mark.  The cat lives outside and her mother feeds it.  Basically, her mother is feeding a stray cat.  He comes around for the food.  He isn't allowed in the home, and it doesn't appear that they care for him in any other way - no vaccinations, no place to sleep, etc.  Just a stray cat that they've decided to name.

Then, this is not a town I'd want to visit.  Heather has apparently been holding a grudge against Lucy since high school, and decides to 'get even' by giving her parents a bad health inspection - which, I would think, they could challenge and have her fired for; after all, if they've passed every single other inspection in thirty years it would be pretty obvious to everyone who knows Heather and Lucy that it was out of spite and nothing else.  Ditto for the Detective, Calvin Clemmons.  He's holding a grudge against Lucy's sister Emma for breaking up with him in high school, and it appears that he's giving Lucy a hard time about being the main suspect in the murder because of it.  Jeez.  Who would live in a town where people can't move on with their lives?

Then, and I quote, the author writes: "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."  This does not sound like a woman who's happy to be working in a restaurant she couldn't wait to escape from.  And therein lies the biggest problem:  I had a hard time reconciling the fact that she'd so willingly want to keep the restaurant she wanted to get away from.  (She also stated that she can't cook, so why would she want to keep the restaurant otherwise?)

There was a lot of repetition in sentences, and I really have to wonder if there is any other way to say someone is hungry or thirsty instead of constantly repeating "it made her mouth water."  Every time I hear that phrase in any book, I picture the person with drool dripping from their mouth or sucking back saliva.  I've never been so enamored of an aroma that that has happened.  I find it annoying, and it was said more than once here.  I also got tired of the 'mother cliché:  get married!  I want grandchildren!  Yeah, nothing says love like pushing your daughter into marriage so she can pop out grandchildren for you; ignore the fact that she has the right to choose what she wants out of life.  With a mother like this, I dread the rest of the books in the series.

I also thought it was ridiculous that the detective would accuse Lucy of murder because of a bad health inspection at the restaurant.  Honestly?  She's going to kill someone because they gave her demerits?  Yeah, that's believable.  Truth to tell, I lost interest in the book around the 30% mark, but I trudged on anyway, hoping it would improve.  It didn't.  However, I will read the next in the series and hope for the best.  Also, here's what I'd like to see in future books:  Her mother to leave her alone to decide if - and when - she chooses to get married and stop harping on grandkids (nag the other daughter - she's already married, and in ten years has only produced one child); and Gadoo to become an indoor cat and be cared for properly, not to be left to fend on his own at night.


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