Arsenic and Adobo is the first book in Mia P. Manansala’s “Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery” series. This cozy mystery follows Lila Macapagal as she moves from Chicago back to her small hometown, trying to recover after a terrible breakup. She works in her family’s Filipino restaurant to help Tita Rosie, her grandmother, and the “calendar crew” – a group of aunties named after the months. One day, as she’s serving a special dessert to a particularly unpleasant food critic (and her ex-boyfriend), he dies…after an argument with Lila…surrounded by witnesses. The local detectives all look to Lila as the main suspect, as the restaurant is shut down and the landlord threatens eviction. Lila, along with her tough grandma and lovable aunties, must do her own investigation to find the truth and save their restaurant. (There’s also a dachshund pup named Longganisa which is adorable.) While Lila isn’t a super sleuth, there are other endearing characters to help her out, and plenty of town gossip.
Along with the restaurant, Lila’s dream is to open her own bakery of some kind, so there are lots of great food descriptions, which might not be helpful if you’re reading this while hungry. There are also a few included recipes in the book, like ube crinkle cookies. This was a good introduction to the series – a light, cozy mystery filled with family and food – a quick and easy read.
- Homicide and Halo-Halo (2022)
- Blackmail and Bibingka (2022)
- Murder and Mamon (2023)