The Witless Protection Program




The Witless Protection Program (A Catering Hall Mystery)
by Maria DiRico

About The Witless Protection Program 


The Witless Protection Program (A Catering Hall Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – New York
Kensington Cozies (March 26, 2024)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496744624
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496744623
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C9W8W668


Mia Carina has steered her Italian-American family’s Astoria, Queens, catering hall, Belle View Banquet Manor, into becoming the borough’s premiere party site, and nothing could make her happier—except her boyfriend proposing. There’s just one presumed-dead obstacle in the way . . .

A strong, independent woman and respected entrepreneur, Mia never imagined she’d pine for a marriage proposal. Yet lately, with her beloved Shane, she’s on tenterhooks. It’s especially surprising, considering Mia’s first husband, Adam, was a philandering grifter, assumed lost-at-sea after a boating disaster. But everyone knows what happens when you assume . . .

While working a huge wedding expo in Manhattan, Mia is shocked to spot the man who nearly destroyed her life. The one who’s supposed to be sleeping with the fishes. But she loses him in the crowd. And when it happens again the next day, it’s time for an emergency meeting with the family—and the Family. Because if Adam is alive, Mia is still married . . .

Everyone wants Adam dead. Everyone except Mia. She’s dealt with enough police for a lifetime. Mia needs to be a divorcĂ©e, not a widow. But someone out there disagrees, and if Mia doesn’t discover who, she may never be free to marry Shane—or anyone else . . .

Italian recipes included!

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 a 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.

Q&A With the Author:

What was your inspiration for writing this book? So many readers have written to ask if Adam Grosso, Mia’s mysteriously missing husband, would ever make an appearance. I knew he eventually would and brought him back into her life at a point where he would most complicate things. What if you’re finally moving forward with the love of your life – and the husband you thought was dead suddenly pops up and wants to rekindle the flame?

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Honestly, everything. It’s such a fun series to write. But I have to say, I got especially excited when I was laying out the plot and realized that flying from New York to Miami, then from Miami to Los Angeles, then from L.A. back to New York could actually be done in a 24-hour period!

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about? Yes! A VERY WOODSY MURDER, my first Golden Motel Mystery, launches in July. In this series, a burned-out sitcom writer – okay, she’s me, lol – impulsively buys a mid-century motel in California’s Gold Rush Country with her best friend, who also happens to be her first husband. And then in the fall, FRENCH QUARTER FRIGHT NIGHT, my 3rd Vintage Cookbook Mystery, will launch. It’s set in New Orleans at Halloween and I got to incorporate my own wonderful experiences of visiting NOLA during this ooky-spooky holiday. 

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future? More Golden Motel and Vintage Cookbook mysteries! 

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans? I am so grateful for all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, think about doing so. I love writing it and host contests and share tidbits of my life solely for my subscribers.

Author Links Website – Chicks on the Case – Facebook –  Twitter –

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – – Kensington – 


March 25 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – Elicia’s Book Haven – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 25 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 26 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 27 – Sarah Can’t Stop Reading – REVIEW  

March 27 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

March 28 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 28 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Books to the Ceiling – PODCAST – SPOTLIGHT- EXCERPT

March 29 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST


March 30 – MJB Reviewer – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 31 – Boys’ Mom Reads! – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT

April 1 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW

April 1 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 2 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR GUEST POST

April 2 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

April 3 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 3 – The Plain-Spoken Pen – REVIEW – EXCERPT

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  1. I absolutely love this series and I'm really looking forward to the new series coming this July. Thank you for both the interview and giveaway.


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