Review: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Synopsis and Details:

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…

Series: Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #1  |  Genres: Cozy Mystery, Cultural  |  Release Date: May 04, 2021  |  Publisher:  Berkley  |  Pages: 336  |  ISBN: 978-0593201671  |  ASIN: B08FHB46J1  |  Format: ARC  |  Source: NetGalley

Review with Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Arsenic and Adobo is the first book in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series and if you love foodie fiction then Arsenic and Adobo is a perfect book for you! The love and crafting that went into the culinary aspect of this story was extremely well done and here is a tip, don’t read this story if you are hungry. The visuals that this story creates are too enticing! I am already getting hungry thinking about the delicious meals that were prepared, ha ha ha.

There is a darker edge to this story then what you would expect with a cozy mystery. Personally, I would think of it more akin to a mystery than a cozy, but it did have its moments of light heartedness, so, there is that. The authority figures in this story seem to have it out for the characters of color and the unfairness of this type of profiling and discrimination is keenly felt. I think that this is not an element that should be overlooked or sidelined as not important, empathy is something that should always be embraced, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. 

Despite the feelings of unfairness that I felt for Lila and her family, I wasn’t too thrilled with Lila as a character. She came across as more self-involved than she should be at her age as well as lacking the maturity that I would have expected. This might not be everyone’s experience with her character but I feel like she had a very singular focus on her happiness and needs. With that said, I did appreciate that she grew, a bit, as a character and that she began to understand that her focus should broaden in relation to the others in her life.

What I really did appreciate in Arsenic and Adobo was the feeling of family that it evoked. There was a closeness in the community that was introduced and all the characters felt authentic. That definitely added to the overall tale that was being crafted. One relationship that I wanted more from was between Lila and her best friend. I felt that an airing out of grievances between them should have taken place given how much attention was paid to the conflict in their relationship. Overall, Arsenic and Adobo was a mystery filled with multicultural characters, plenty of small-town drama, and recipes that are sure to get you trying your hand at Filipino food.

*Thank you to Berkley Prime Crime & NetGalley for this eARC of Arsenic and Adobo*

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This review is based on a complimentary book I received. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

About the Author:

Mia P. Manansala (MAH-nahn-sah-lah) (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women.

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Arsenic and Adobo

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Categories: Published in 2021, Review

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