Sunday, May 2, 2021

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

 Arsenic and Adobo

Book Summary

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala has Lila Macapagal back home in Shady Palms, Illinois after discovering her fiancé was cheating on her and receiving an SOS call from her Tita Rosie.  Tita Rosie’s restaurant is not doing well, and she wants Lila to save it.  The biggest problem is Lila’s old high school boyfriend, Derek Winters who is a food blogger and critic for the local newspaper.  For the last month, Derek has been coming in frequently, devouring different dishes, and then writing unfavorable reviews.  Mr. Long, their landlord, enters the restaurant with Derek one day for lunch.  Derek, as usual, is wolfing down his food and pushing Lila’s buttons until he collapses into a bowl of ginataang bilo-bilo.  Detective Park is quick to arrive and quickly narrows his focus onto Lila.  He believes Lila killed Derek and is intent on proving it.  The family is in danger of losing the restaurant with it currently closed.  Lila teams up with her best friend, Adeena to find the killer and prove her innocence.

My Thoughts

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala is the first book in A Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series as well as the author’s debut novel.  Arsenic and Adobo is a lighthearted cozy mystery with a unique premise (A Filipino family and their restaurant).  Lila Macapagal is a Filipino American who has come home to Shady Palms after finding out that her fiancé is cheating on her.  Her family can use her assistance with their restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen.  They are having financial difficulties which is in part due to local food blogger and critic, Derek Winters who happens to be Lila’s old high school boyfriend.  His nasty reviews turn tourists off from dining at their Filipino restaurant.  When Derek dies after eating at their restaurant and having a disagreement with Lila, she becomes the prime suspect.  The author set the stage for the series with her descriptions of the main characters, the town, and the local businesses.  Lila has a large family that includes three interfering “aunts”. 

They are eager to match Lila up with a fella and see her settle down.  The “Calendar Crew” as Lila has deemed her interfering aunts are entertaining and helpful when it comes to whodunit.  There is a large cast of secondary characters in this tale.  It can be hard to keep track of them along with the murder suspects.  The mystery was straightforward with its suspects, clues, and misdirection.  Identifying the guilty party is duck soup.  Two pieces of information gives it away.  It takes longer, though, to find out why.  I did like that there was action that helped propel the story forward.  I was let down by the twist.  I was surprised by Lila’s reaction to Derek’s death and some other incidents.  She is very nonchalant.  I did not know if the author wanted Lila to be indifferent or it was an oversight.  Other characters are just as detached.  I also question some of the police actions.  They were not realistic (I cannot say too much, or it will be a spoiler).  When I finished Arsenic and Adobo, I had more unanswered questions.  I also thought some of the scenes could have been edited (less dialogue and descriptive sentences).  There are many cozy moments with Lila, family, and her friends that are sweet.  The food prepared and eaten is described in detail (foodies will love it).  There are recipes at the end of the book.  I am glad there was a dictionary at the beginning to explain the various words used in the story along with how to pronounce each one.  Arsenic and Adobo is an upbeat multicultural cozy mystery with fabulous food, a mystifying murder, a determined detective, prying relatives, shifty suspects, and a devoted dog. 

Arsenic and Adobo publishes Tuesday, May 4 and it can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  This is Mia P. Manansala's debut novel.  If you like A Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien, then you should check out Arsenic and Adobo.  Thank you for reading my review today.  The pictures I used today are of pork adobo, ginataang bilo-bilo, and a Filipino restaurant.  I am sharing my thoughts on Banished by Linda Byler next time.  It is first book in The Long Road Home series.  I hope that you have a day filled with sweet treats (chocolate is my favorite).  I am off to do a little yard work.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

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