Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Published: May 4th, 2021
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…
This was such a different type of read for me recently, that I was skeptical going into this. I’ve been reading almost romance exclusively for the better part of the last two years. Not sure how that came to be because I had been a die hard fantasy fan, but somewhere I fell into the romance genre HARD. So when this book came off of my library hold list, I decided to take the leap into this what I would maybe categorize as a contemporary mystery.
I enjoyed so many things around this book. First of all the dive into Filipino culture, the food an just general use of some Filipino language, made it feel really authentic to who Lila and her family is. It made me feel like I was a part of Lila’s world.
But this was a really great whodunnit type of mystery. It was really witty, had a great vibe, and seriously genuine characters. It read almost like a romcom in terms of being a good medium/fast paced read, and I felt like there were times and moments where it was leaning into that territory (and I kind of wish it did) but keeping the focus on the mystery was probably the better choice.
One thing I couldn’t let go though, was I felt like Lila read really young. Like it almost felt, young adult to me vs. how old Lila really was. There were times where I just felt like she was acting a bit younger than what she was meant to be portrayed as. And I feel like that COULD be a cultural thing, I know growing up in a Greek household, I didn’t move out until I got married, so that really caused me not to experience a lot versus other’s I grew up with who had a more “traditional” coming of age/adult lifestyle.
Overall though, a great cozy small-town whodunnit type of mystery with tons of great food, amazing characters, and twists and turns.