What is this about?: Lucy has been passed over for a promotion to partner at her law firm, so she quits and returns home to New Jersey and her parents. There, they run Kebab Kitchen, and just after Lucy returns, she has a run in with a mean girl from high school, who is now the town’s health inspector… who promptly dies from food poisoning after eating at her parents’ place.
What else is this about?: It’s about going home, and not feeling like you’re missing out on the big wide world. It’s about understanding that home is where the heart is, and that’s okay.
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 . . .
I have to get this out of the way first: Tina Kashian, the author of Hummus and Homicide, worked every job there is at her Armenian parents’ restaurant growing up. So you can well imagine the glorious detail that goes into the book’s restaurant and the Mediterranean cuisine. And also: hummus. I love hummus.
Right, enough about food, there’s a story in all this
When you’re a high-powered IP lawyer, on the fast-track to become partner and you find yourself passed over for a male colleague, what do you do? You quit the shit show that is your law firm, and you head home to figure things out — but you don’t tell anyone what happened, instead you’re home on a sabbatical.
That in a nutshell is why Lucy has come home. Immediately her parents and her small town welcome her home by knowing her business so quickly, it makes her head spin. But, all of this is just utterly warm, and comforting and I loved every minute of it.
Lucy’s parents are the type of couple that if they’re not bickering, you know something is wrong. Her mother still wears a beehive, and both her parents — in fact everyone — think she should be getting back together with Azad, her former boyfriend who dumped her because he wasn’t ready for marriage years ago. She loves him, but she’s older wiser, and she doesn’t regret the growing up she did in the interim — which I found I liked, because as much as everyone may think she should get back with him, Lucy is also attracted to Michael, the son of the town mobster AKA owner of the motorcycle store.
When Lucy discovers her parents want to sell their kitchen, it’s brought home to her how much older they are, and at the same time how much the restaurant means to her — surprising her because she couldn’t wait to leave to work in the city.
But I digress: it’s Lucy’s family, including her sister Emma, her BFF Katie and the secondary characters she runs into during her investigation that make this story just so fun, and warm and utterly engaging. Every scene with them is just satisfying — and at the same time makes me hungry bc the food here is DELISH.
Murder, there’s a murder I promise!
I was supposed to write about the murder mystery above, but got sidetracked with the sheer joy of delving into the family and the small town — but yes, there’s a murder. One Heather Banks, newest health inspector and thorn in Lucy’s side since high school. Even after years away, the first time they meet when Lucy returns home results in an argument, with plenty of witnesses. Add in Heather coming over to Kebab Kitchen and finding a list of faults the previous health inspector — her father — never found, makes it clear to Lucy that Heather is just making life difficult for her family.
Even more so when she dies after eating at the place she just cited for health issues.
Immediately after she finds Heather, word spreads fast in town and business begins to slow down. Her parents are worried because they intend to sell, and what buyer would want a restaurant that is failing? So they turn to Lucy, who they assume as a lawyer should be easy enough for her to investigate — never mind she’s an IP lawyer.
However, with Katie, her BFF she begins to investigate, following all the people who would benefit if her parents would have to sell at a loss, and finding out secrets about Heather as well — all of which lead to a conclusion that made me stop and go: OH.
I’m so besotted with this book. It’s one of those genuinely warm stories I fell into and fell in love with the characters and the town itself. Which also begs the question: who has been to New Jersey, and what is it like? There’s a beach?