Book Review — Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Berkley Books. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

  • Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
  • Published by: Berkley Books
  • Publish date: February 08, 2022
  • Number of pages: 336 pages
  • Author’s website: https://www.miapmanansala.com/
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

Death at a beauty pageant turns Tita Rosie’s Kitchen upside down in the latest entry of this witty and humorous cozy mystery series by Mia P. Manansala.

Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new café after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started. To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago–a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case–because it looks like one of them might be next.

Rating: 5/5

Ah, it was so lovely to be reunited with Lila, her pup Longganisa, her family aka the Calendar Crew, her love interests, and her friends in Shady Palms. We return to this town (that is aptly named for what seems to occur here) a few months after book 1: Arsenic and Adobo, to find out Lila is a judge for the beauty pageant, one that she participated in as a teen.

In the same vein as in the first novel, Lila finds herself investigating the murder of the head judge. On top of this, she is working on developing recipes for her new cafe, Brew-Ha, struggling with PTSD related to happenings in the first novel, and having to face some things that the pageant is bringing up related to her mom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second book and I think more than the first since the characters were previously introduced, we were able to dive deeper into them. The hints to the murderer become pretty clear as the book goes on and I don’t think there will be many people who don’t figure out “whodunit”, but it was still an enjoyable read nonetheless. I’m also excited for the next book in the series!

  • I love how multi-faceted the side stories are. While the driving plot is the mystery of the murder, we also get to meet complicated characters trying to figure out their relationships and what they want out of life
  • The recipes at the end! I’m made Turon for my Galentine’s get-together this week. Yum!

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

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