Book Review — Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

  • Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
  • Published by: Berkley
  • Publish date: May 4, 2021
  • Number of pages: 304 pages
  • Author’s website: https://www.miapmanansala.com/
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

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, Longganisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Content Warning: fatphobia, drug abuse, racism, evidence planting, police intimidation, domestic violence

Source: Mia P. Manansala’s Press Kit

Rating: 5/5

Full disclosure: some may consider this review biased because I saw myself and my family in this book. So take that as you will. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. However, I do think others will too!

Growing up, the only time I ever read anything with a Filipino character was a very troubling True Crime book about a mail-order-bride that I’m not sure how it got on our bookshelves and I was probably way too young to be reading it. Big yikes.

Over the past few years, I have made a concerted effort to consume more works by Filipino authors. My focus was on non-fiction and some poetry. Manansala’s novel is the first fiction written by a Filipina starring a Filipina that I’ve read! Ah, let me tell you, it made me so incredibly happy!

Not only was the depiction of Lila’s family so painfully accurate (the comments on appearances and always making sure everyone is well-fed!), the murder mystery was exactly what I’ve come to expect with cozy mysteries featuring food such as the Hannah Swensen Series by Joanna Fluke and the Ice Cream Parlor Mystery Series by Abby Collette. Fans of cozies will find this to be right on par with others in this genre. Some other notable things in this book are– the appreciation of food from all different backgrounds and cultures, a very interesting love triangle, a badass best friend, a delicious restaurant and accompanying recipes, and a very cute puppy! I cannot wait for what’s to come with this series.

  • Relatable character
  • Recipes in the back of the book
  • Fun mystery to try to figure out
  • Similar to many cozies, the “whodunnit” isn’t particularly hard to figure out.
  • I want more Longanisa (Lila’s dog). Hopefully, we get more of her in the next books.
  • Having to wait for book 2!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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