Long Island Iced Tina (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico
About Long Island Iced Tina
Mia Carina is back in the borough of Queens—in charge of the family catering hall, Belle View Banquet Manor, and keeping her nonna company. But some events—like murder—are not the kind you can schedule . . .
Mia’s newly pregnant friend Nicole plans to hold a shower at Belle View—but Nicole also has to attend one that her competitive (and mysteriously rich) stepmother, Tina, is throwing at the fanciest place in Queens. It’s a good chance for Mia to snoop on a competitor, especially since doing a search for “how to run a catering hall” can get you only so far.
Mia tags along at the lavish party, but the ambience suffers at Nicole’s Belle View shower when a fight breaks out—and then, oddly, a long-missing and valuable stolen painting is unwrapped by the mom-to-be. Tina is clearly shocked to see it. But not as shocked as Mia is when, soon afterward, she spots the lifeless body of a party guest floating in the marina . . .
Italian recipes included!
“Minnie, I’m honored you thought of Belle View for the baby shower.”
“I know you’ll do it up right.”
Mia had only been running Belle View with her father for a few months, but she’d been in the business long enough to know that “I know you’ll do it up right” was code for because we’re friends, you need to pile on the free extras. She was happy to do this for a BFF like Nicole. “We’ll do it up so right,” she promised the great-grandmother-to-be.
“Linda and I are footing the bill,” Minniguccia said, referencing her own daughter, who was Nicole’s mother.
“You get together with Nicole, see if there’s anything special she wants, and say yes to it all.”
“I’ll call her as soon as you and I hang up. Do you want her input on everything? Decorations? Guest list? Food?”
“Her mother and I will take care of the decorations. As to the guest list . . .” There was a loaded pause.
“Linda is insisting we invite the stepmonster.”
Mia sympathized with the venomous spin Minniguccia put on the word stepmonster. The older woman despised Tina, Ron Karras’ second wife, and with good reason, in Mia’s opinion. In the five or so years since Tina joined the Karras family post-Ron and Linda’s divorce, Mia had never heard a good word about her. This wasn’t completely true. Linda, one of the sweetest women ever to walk the earth, tried her best to find something positive to say about the woman who’d replaced her in Ron’s affections, while her daughter Nicole instantly changed the subject whenever her stepmother’s name came up. It fell to Minnie to articulate animosity toward the former flight attendant, which the octogenarian did with gusto at every opportunity. She’d picked up the word “stepmonster” when it appeared in the zeitgeist and refused to use any other moniker when referring to the second Mrs. Karras.
Except for one . . .
“As to the food, it’s whatever Nicole asks for except for one dish I insist we include on the menu since the stepmonster will be there,” Minniguccia said, her tone dark. “Pasta puttanesca. For the puttana.”
That was the other name Minniguccia called Tina: puttana. The Italian word for “whore.” Mia heard Minniguccia spit to punctuate the insult.
“Pasta puttanesca is a delicious dish,” she said diplomatically. “I’ll tell our chef, Guadalupe, to dig up the best recipe she can find.”
“With an extra helping of puttana.” Minniguccia spit again.
“I’ll get in touch with you after I talk to Nicole,” Mia said, aiming for the high road by not responding to Minnie’s vitriol. “Dad and I will make sure the shower is a beautiful, memorable event.” But, Mia thought to herself, given the fractured family dynamics, not too memorable.
About Maria DiRico
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.