Rummanah Aasi
 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.

Review: One of the most popular requests that I get at the public library from patrons are for mystery recommendations. I have a really hard time recommending mysteries because I am such a picky mystery reader. I get so annoyed when I can solve a mystery before the detective/investigator and then I get bored. I'm so tired of the unreliable drunk/drug addled/mentally unstable female character trope in the latest slew of popular mysteries (i.e. The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window, The Silent Patient). A couple of coworkers suggested that I look into cozy mysteries, a subgenre of mysteries to rekindle my love of the genre. Arsenic and Adobo is a favorite staff pick at the library and I thought I would give it a shot.
  Arsenic and Adobo is my first culinary mystery and I really enjoyed it. Though I could have guessed the culprit, I was actually more delighted by its large cast of diverse characters. I also really liked that it took place in a fictional Chicagoland surburb.
  In this debut mystery, Lila Macapagal has returned to her small hometown of Shady Palms, Illinois, after being burned by her ex in Chicago. When Lila’s aunt asks her to help at the family’s Filipino restaurant, she’s happy to do so—until another one of her exes shows up. Derek Winters, a food critic, is the last person Lila wants to see, especially since a bad review from him could ruin the family. Lila does not have to deal with Derek for long because he actually drops dead at the dinner table, and Lila is the prime suspect. The suspect list grows as Lila begins to investigate and uncover secrets that Derek was hiding. Lila is funny and smart though she fumbles as being an amateur sleuth. I really liked how the mystery grew and following the complex clues. I definitely would not read this book on an empty stomach with its constant mouthwatering food descriptions. There is also a possible love triangle with two great love interests that I am excited to follow and I am curious to see how it develops. 
   As a Muslim, I really appreciated the added consideration that Lila makes sure there were food alternatives for her best friend and her brother who both happen to be Pakistani Muslim. Speaking of diversity, the book is not heavy handed about it but it felt completely natural. Characters are who they are without any megaphones about identity. I will definitely continue this fun series and look for other cozy mysteries to read.

One of my reading goals for 2022 is to read more mysteries and thrillers. If you have any suggestions for an intelligent thriller that is well written and does not dumb down to the reader, please let me know in the comments. Bonus if the main character isn’t a female who is drunk/high on drugs and have mental instability; and please spare me with the “I am a man and I’m here to help you” trope.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Aunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu, Homocide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala (Feb 2022)
1 Response
  1. I like that this book handles diversity by just having it there and not talking about it. It's how I feel about British TV shows.

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