Book Review – Arsenic and Adobo by Mia. P. Manansala
The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….
When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.
With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…
No. of pages:- 330 pages
Publisher:- Berkley Publisher
Date Published:- May 4th 2021
Genre:- Asian American Literature/ Cozy Culinary Mystery
Again, the book cover made me get attracted to this book and so I pre-ordered this book on Amazon and finally got the book!! This is also the first time I am reading a book written by a Filipino American so it was actually a great change from the books I have been reading.
Lila is working in her aunt’s Filipino restaurant in Shady Falls and is determined to save the restaurant which is on the verge of closing. But when the food critic aka her ex boyfriend Damian dies in the restaurant and the police find that he was murdered with an arsenic poison, things start changing. And the worst thing is she becomes the number one suspect in the murder case after the police finds bags of drugs and arsenic poison in her locker of the restaurant.
Determined to save her name and the restaurant, along with her long time best friend Adeena sets to find the real murderer–her aunt gives her a list of suspects, all restaurants that are given bad reviews by Damian and becomes the Nancy Drew as she tries to find who the real culprit is.
Let’s talk about the plot first–the plot was interesting. I have read some cozy culinary mystery books before and so this book fits perfectly with that genre. The writing was good and engaging with some humorous tints in it. What I like about this book is the diversity which I rarely finds in the books–though the main character is a Filipino, many of the characters are of different ethnic backgrounds from White, Black, Hispanic, Asian to Indians which makes it more thrilling to read. The characters are all mainly likable particularly the main character Lila and her best friend Adeena, not to mention, Lila’s dog, Nisa.
But what makes this book more delicious is the descriptions of the food that makes the reader feel hungry! At the beginning of the book is the Filipino names of food and the descriptions of each of the food so that makes the reader like me (who is also a foodie) to feel hungry. Not only that, with the American background in the story, I also learned a little bit about the Filipino culture, and of course tits and bits of Tagalog as well! Though the beginning was a bit boring, towards the middle and up to the end, the story got interesting and engaging with the mystery and food mingling together!
Overall I give this book as four stars! A good thriller, unputdownable with delicious Filipino meal that will not disappoint you in any way. Can’t wait for the second book of the series!
Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.
A lover of all things geeky, Mia spends her days procrastibaking, playing JRPGs and dating sims, reading cozy mysteries, and cuddling her dogs Gumiho, Max Power, and Bayley Banks (bonus points if you get all the references).
Her debut novel, ARSENIC AND ADOBO, comes out May 4, 2021 with Berkley/Penguin Random House and is the first in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series.
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter