Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Book Review: Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder by Tina Kashian (Kebab Kitchen Mysteries #5)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters, good mystery
Cons: Pacing, the biggest sub-plot leaves me with questions
The Bottom Line:
Cold water, cold death
Can Lucy defend her friend?
A Christmas setting

Polar Bear Plunge of Death

I realized a couple of months back that I had saved more Christmas books for December than I could read that month, so I’m sneaking a few of them in earlier than I originally planned.  One of those is Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder, which gets me up to date on the Kebab Kitchen Mysteries.

Every December, Ocean Crest, New Jersey, hosts a polar bear plunge as a fund raiser, and this year it is raising money for a much-needed renovation for the senior center.  Most of the businesses in the town are participating, and Lucy Berberian is representing her family’s Kebab Kitchen restaurant.  As expected, the water is chilly, but all that is soon forgotten when the dead body of one of the participants washes ashore.  At first everyone assumes that the shock of the cold water killed Deacon Spooner, but the medical examiners determines that it was murder.  Lucy had recently met Deacon, and he wasn’t a nice man.  When the police look at Lucy’s friend as their prime suspect, she can’t help but nose around.  She uncovers plenty of motives and opportunity, but who actually killed the man?

The plot started out well, and we have several strong suspects.  However, as we entered the final stretch, the story seemed to fizzle a little, and some of the sub-plots take over.  Mind you, I was enjoying the subplot since they involved character growth for the series regulars, which was nice, but I was frustrated because the main mystery faded into the background.  Still, we got a logical and suspenseful climax, which I appreciated.

I do have to rant about the main sub-plot for a minute, however.  At the end of the last book, Lucy and Azad, the chef at her family’s restaurant, got engaged.  When this book opens, they haven’t set a date yet, and Lucy’s matron of honor is driving most of the wedding planning, such as it is.  Heck, the engagement hasn’t even been officially announced.  I would understand this if the two books were set close together, but the engagement happened at Easter.  It is now December.  That’s a long time to go, and Lucy doesn’t understand the comments she is getting about planning the wedding.  Honestly, she really did act like it had only been a few weeks since they got engaged, and if that were the case, her behavior would make a lot more sense.  But this way?  I was actually on the side of those who were wondering if there was something behind Lucy’s reluctance to plan anything.

On the other hand, this sub-plot did give us a chance to get to see some real growth in Lucy and get to see her relationships with some of the other characters change, and I did appreciate that.

The book isn’t heavy handed with the Christmas theme, which made it perfect to read right now.  I enjoyed the references to the holiday, and Christmas did get stronger the closer we got to the end.

Since this book is set in a restaurant, it’s no surprise that we get four delicious sounding recipes at the end – including the lemon meringue pie that has been mentioned in several earlier books.

Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder could have been stronger.  Still, as a fan of the series, I’m glad I got to spend a little time at Christmas with Lucy and her family and friends.

Make reservations for the rest of the Kebab Kitchen Mysteries.

1 comment:

  1. I love the concept of this series but have read some really mixed reviews on it. Lucy's behavior regarding the engagement definitely sounds a bit odd. I keep putting off reading the first book and am thinking that's a sign this series might not be for me.


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