Yes,Virginia, summer is definitely here and it's such a perfect time to stay in the shade with a tasty culinary cozy mystery at hand along with a cool glass of iced tea to sip between chapters.
My latest Series-ous Reading selection is a debut novel from Mia P. Manansala called Arsenic and Adobo, meant to be the first of Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series set in Shady Palms,Illinois. Lila is our leading lady, who has recently moved back to town to help her Aunt Rosie with the title restaurant.
Lila is also trying to get over a major bad break-up and it doesn't make it easier when her obnoxious high school exe keeps showing up for dinner. Derek Winters is a food blogger who persists in giving bad reviews of Tita Rosie's Kitchen yet keeps coming back for more and this time with his stepfather Ed Long, who happens to be the landlord.
While the restaurant has a strong following for it's flavorful dishes, those reviews are making it harder for Tita Rosie to make ends meet but Lila is determined to not let Derek and Ed ruin the good food feeling for everyone:
Even though Derek was diabetic, his death wasn't caused by that ailment which puts Lila in the top spot as prime suspect in the case. In order to clear her name and have the now closed restaurant reopen, Lila has no choice but to investigate as the detective in charge is quick to blame her for what's happened.
With the help of her friend Adeena, Lila discovers that other local eateries have been targeted by Derek and shaken down by the health inspector who happens to be good friends with Ed Long. Is that the reason for Derek's demise or is there something even more unsavory afoot here?:
I do love restaurant settings in books and Mia P. Manansala makes the most of that element here as part of Lila's inquiries take place at various other eateries, which is a smart way to expand the horizons of this story(as well as establish future mystery locations!). Also, Lila's bond with her family and friends added some good character seasoning to this first course of what I hope is a feast of great tales to come.
Detective Park did annoy me a little as even I could tell that Lila was being framed(okay, you get an anonymous call about hidden incriminating items right AFTER a very public death at the restaurant and those objects just happen to be exactly where you were told they were, easy to find? Seriously, dude, way to be a dupe there!) However, it seems that he's going to be a future love interest as well as his brother(who I like way better!), so I'll give him a chance in the next book.
The next entry in this series is Homicide and Halo-Halo, due out in February of 2022 and this time around, Lila has to look in a revived beauty pageant in order to keep her cousin Bernadette from being accused of offing the head judge! Food,family and murder is what makes a delicious cozy mystery page turning good:
The title treats are being served at the opening of a luxury hotel/condo by wealthy owner Roger Dalworth, which goes smoothly until the police secretary Barbara Donnelly has a sudden fall from the penthouse balcony!
While Barbara managed to survive that incident, her fuzzy recollections send Hannah off on another mystery only to be sidetracked by the death of Doc Bev, her former rival for Norman's affections. Can she solve both cases in time to avoid an arrest warrant by Mike, who is more loyal to the law than to any of his lady friends, that's for sure!
As it happens, this story is set during the summer season and a cupcake sounds like a great way to have a winter delight taste just right in heat wave times: