Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.
Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .Italian recipes included!
Her cell rang again. Mia looked at it askance. She relaxed when she saw the caller wasn’t Kaitlyn. She didn’t recognize the number and decided to let it go to voicemail, in case the call was spam. Mia opened her internet browser and tapped in unique sweet sixteen themes. A list popped up that proved to be no help at all, being that she and Shane had already burned through most of them with Kaitlyn. She debated better wording and went with over-the-top sweet sixteen parties. Her cell rang again. The screen showed the same number as before. Whoever it is really wants to talk to me. Mia took the call.
“Mia, bella, hello. It’s Donny.” She sat up straight, the sweet sixteen forgotten. Donny was Donny Boldano, head of the Boldano crime family.
Her father Ravello had been a lieutenant in the organization, but now ran Belle View as a legitimate business for them, much to Mia’s relief, as well as her father’s, who had burned out on running the family’s illegal gambling enterprises. “Mr. B, hi. How are you?”
“Good. Good. I’m calling from a burner phone.”
“Yeah, I wondered. I didn’t recognize the number.” Mia’s heart thumped like a bass drum. Why was Donny Boldano calling her instead of Ravello? And from a burner phone? She panicked for a moment, thinking it might be bad news about her beloved father, but calmed down when she reminded herself that she’d seen him leave his office for the men’s room only ten minutes earlier.
He was still in the building. And probably still in the men’s room. Which made Donny’s call all the more curious.
“You’re probably wondering why I’m calling you. Especially from a burner phone.”
Donny wasn’t exactly reading her mind. These were obvious questions under the circumstances. “Yes. Exactly.”
“Uh . . .” There was a long pause. Whatever Donny had to say wasn’t coming easy. Mia’s heart thumped again. “Mrs. B and I would like to talk to you about something. Don’t worry, it’s not business,” he hastened to add. “Everything’s good with Belle View. You’re not in trouble.”
“Oh, thank God,” Mia couldn’t help saying.
“It’s . . . um . . . a personal matter. Do you happen to be free tonight?”
Mia, whose social life over the past few months had consisted of feeding her cat and bird, then falling asleep in front of the TV or her laptop screen, said, “Yes. I am free.”
“Wonderful. I don’t want you getting stuck in rush hour traffic, so let’s say eight. We’ll have cake and coffee. Oh, and sweetheart—please don’t mention this to Jamie.”
Excerpt from It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder. Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother's side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father's side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother's family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series.DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She's a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. Author Links – Website – Chicks on the Case – Facebook – Twitter