Friday, August 31, 2018



Lucy Berberian has taken over her family’s Mediterranean restaurant on the Jersey Shore after an unsatisfying stint at a Philadelphia law firm. It’s great to be back in her old beach town, even if she’s turning into a seasoned sleuth. 

Catering a high-society wedding should bring in some big income for Kebab Kitchen—and raise its profile too. But it’s not exactly good publicity when the best man winds up skewered like a shish kebab. Worse yet, Lucy’s ex, Azad—who’s the restaurant’s new head chef—is the prime suspect. But she doesn’t give a fig what the cops think. He may have killer looks, but he’s no murderer. She just needs to prove his innocence, before he has to go on the lamb . . .

Recipes included! “A delectable read.” —Bestselling author Shelley Freydont

Book Details:
Title: Stabbed in the Baklava
Author: Tina Kashian
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Kebab Kitchen Mystery, book 2
Publisher: Kensington (August 28, 2018)
Print length: 336 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Q: Lucy, who are you?
A: My name is Lucy Berberian. I’m a thirty-something refugee of a Philadelphia law firm. I returned home only to find myself sucked back into my family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But after realizing the business isn’t so bad and my true friends are in Ocean Crest, I stepped up and decided to manage the restaurant so my parents could ease into retirement. It’s been challenging work, but I love it. 

Q: Where do you live?
A: Kebab Kitchen, my family’s Mediterranean restaurant, is located in Ocean Crest at the Jersey Shore. It’s a small town that triples in population during the summer season. It’s quaint and has a mile-long boardwalk that brags a pier with an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster and Ferris wheel. It’s a perfect place to vacation with your family—as long as a murderer is found and arrested.

Q: Do you have a significant other?
A: Is this a trap? Or did my mother put you up to this? My mom is constantly nagging me for more grandchildren. The truth is that after a love life as dry as the Sahara, there are two tall, dark haired and handsome men in my life. 

Azad Zakarian is a college ex-boyfriend who broke my heart years ago. He’s changed now and wants a second chance to make things right. He still makes my heart pound whenever he steps in the kitchen. And the fact that he is now Kebab Kitchen’s new head chef and works for me makes things as sticky as baklava syrup between us. He wants more, but I’m not sure mixing business with pleasure is the right thing. Call me a coward, I know!

Michael Citteroni runs the bicycle rental shop next door. Even though he could grace the cover of a men’s fashion magazine, I feel a kinship with him. Just like me, he has an overbearing ethnic father. Michael owns a Harley-Davidson, and against better judgment, I rode with him for the first time a month ago. Turns out, I loved it and we have gone on more than one ride to the boardwalk. 

Q: How do you feel about your other fellow characters?
A: Katie Watson has been my best friend since grade school. She is also married to an Ocean Crest beat cop and I’ve been living in their guest bedroom in their cozy rancher since returning home. I know it is time to look for my own place, but Katie gets upset whenever I mention it. Katie is also a great crime fighting partner. She is obsessed with crime TV shows like the reruns of Matlock, Columbo, and CSI, and her knowledge has come in quite handy.

My parents, Angela and Raffi Berberian, play an important role in my life. We are a tight-knit Armenian, Lebanese and Greek family. That also means that everyone is in everyone else’s business. My matchmaking mama has been on my case to marry and add another twig to the family tree. Her preference is Azad, and that alone should make me run for the hills, but I’m older and wiser now and think I can handle the family expectations. We’ll see . . .

Sally is our long-time waitress and Emma is my older sister.  Emma hasn’t been known for her faithfulness in the past, and she dubbed the town’s sole Investigator Clinging Calvin in high school. Unfortunately, Detective Calvin Clemmons, hasn’t forgotten the slight and he holds a grudge against the family. This has definitely come back to haunt me during my sleuthing.

Q: Do you have any pets?
A: We’ve adopted an outdoor restaurant cat named Gadoo, which means cat in Armenian. Not very original, I know. Gadoo is orange and black and feisty, and I always stock his favorite treats from the local grocery store. When I move out of Katie’s house one day, I want to take Gadoo with me, but I know I’ll have to battle my mother for him.

Q: How do you feel about your life right now?
A: Well, things haven’t gone exactly as planned. I thought it a dream come true when a socialite asks Kebab Kitchen to cater her wedding. But from the beginning we’ve been challenged. My mother demands perfection with the food, Azad’s looks hotter and hotter in the kitchen (who knew a man who could cook could be so sexy?) and then there is the tragedy at the reception. The best man is found skewered in the catering van. Things go from bad to worse when Detective Clemmons treats Azad as a number one suspect. I know better, and I feel duty bound to find the real killer. Plus, I need my head chef. It’s all in a day’s work for me.



 Ocean Crest, NJ
 “Took you long enough to fetch one extra tray of baklava from the catering van, Lucy. Dessert service is just about to start,” Azad mumbled as he cut a tray of baklava in diamond-shaped slices. The pastry smelled delicious, a rich combination of butter, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and flaky phyllo dough, and Lucy was momentarily distracted. A large jar of simple sugar syrup was on the counter waiting to be poured over the cut baklava. She’d be sure to have a piece as soon as this wedding was finally over.
Azad halted his work to glare at her. “What? You want a piece now?”
With a huff, Lucy slapped the catering van key on the counter and walked away. She wanted to tell him that the wedding had more drama than a soap opera, but decided against it. No sense bringing up the subject of the best man, Henry Simms, right now. Azad had reacted quite strongly the first time he’d encountered Henry.
Hours later, Lucy had forgotten the argument between Henry and the wedding planner, Victoria. After serving twenty trays of baklava and wedding cake, they’d bagged slices of leftover cake and baklava for the guests to take home. When all the work was finished, Lucy let out a big sigh of relief. She pulled a stool up to the work counter and sipped a glass of water. Her lower back ached and her feet throbbed. Now that their catering work was done they could leave. The band was booked for only one more hour, and the staff of Castle of the Sea would remain to clean up the ballroom.
Katie joined her with a plate of leftover wedding cake. She took a bite and shut her eyes. “Hmm. This is good.” She set down her fork and patted Lucy on the back. “Congratulations! Your first catering foray for Kebab Kitchen was a huge success.”
“Thanks, but I couldn’t have done it without you, Azad, and Butch.”
Katie thrust her plate of cake at Lucy. “Have a bite while I sneak into the ballroom to see if there’s extra champagne to celebrate.” She pushed back her stool and headed out of the kitchen and into the ballroom.
Butch approached and smiled, his gold tooth flashing beneath the fluorescent lights. “Your friend is right. You did good, Lucy Lou.”
She stood and hugged Butch, Kebab Kitchen’s line cook. Her arms didn’t reach halfway around his massive chest.
Azad had a bemused look on his face. “I have to agree. Great job with the servers, Lucy. Butch and I were able to focus entirely on the food while we knew you would handle the rest.”
Lucy smiled at the praise. She also knew better than to hug him. She’d struggled to shut out any awareness of Azad and it was best to avoid physical contact.
“I meant what I said. You both did the lion’s share of the work. I can’t cook and you two know it,” Lucy said.
It was an opening for Azad to tease her, but he didn’t. Instead, he took off his chef’s hat, ran his fingers through his dark locks, and said, “We better start packing before that testy wedding planner returns. I’ll get the rolling carts from the van.” He picked up some clean pots and pans and departed through the back door.
She stared after him with a frown. She knew he was right. Why give Victoria Redding a reason to complain? Then why did she feel an odd twinge of disappointment that he hadn’t taken the opportunity to remind her of her lack of culinary talents? Did she actually miss his teasing? Had it become a form of flirting?
Don’t go there, Lucy.
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lucy busied herself by helping Butch gather the soup pots and equipment. But when Azad didn’t return after ten minutes, she frowned. How long could it take to roll a cart from the van into the kitchen? Had he been waylaid by Victoria in the parking lot? Was he getting a tongue-lashing as they waited? Or was she retrieving Henry’s cell phone from beneath the van’s bumper? Lucy wouldn’t put anything past the woman.
“I’m going to check on Azad,” she told Butch.
She jogged back to the van and slowed as she spotted Azad outside the van’s open back doors. One hand clutched the door, his knuckles white.
 No response.
The hair on the nape of her neck stood on end as she came close. “Is everything okay?”
She looked inside and froze. There, splayed on the floor of the van, was Henry Simms, stabbed in the neck with a shish kebab skewer. 


Tina Kashian is an attorney and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She is the author of the Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean cozy mystery series. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit her website to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

Connect with Tina:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble iBooks  |  Google Books  |  Kobo


Thanks to spammers, these comments must be moderated. If you're legit, your comment will show up once we've seen it!