A very cute cover. Can't forget the little dog, a staple in cozies!
Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala is a cozy mystery centered around Lila and her family who own and operate a small Filipino restaurant. It's a fun read and includes recipes for most of the dishes in the back. It's the first book of the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, which also include Homicide and Halo-Halo (2022), and Blackmail and Bibingka (2022). Arsenic and Adobo won the 2022 Anthony Award and 2022 Agatha Award, both in the category Best First Novel. The author was a 2017 PitchWars mentee, which shows just how powerful that program was in launching authors' careers.
When Lila's toxic ex dies at her family's restaurant, Lila is a suspect. Knowing her innocence, she tries to solve the murder before her family restaurant has to close forever. In the process, she learns there's more than just murder happening in their small town, and every restaurant has been a victim.
I liked this story a lot. It flowed smoothly and was a fast read. While I didn't know any of the foods at the family restaurant, there was enough description to keep me oriented. There were also a couple love interests that made things exciting beyond the mystery. I could tell this was the start of a series, but it still had closure at the end.
My list of dislikes is pretty short. Mainly, as with many cozy mysteries, I didn't understand why Lila went rogue to solve this alone. Yes, she's a suspect who wants to clear her name, but she wasn't taking any advice from her lawyer, and all the evidence she would would have been inadmissible in court. However, this is my main complaint with almost every cozy, so perhaps it's just a trope I need to let slide when reading this genre.
You'll like Arsenic and Adobo if you like cozy mysteries, books with recipes for the food it describes, and a dash of (PG) romance. It may not be for you if you prefer detective mysteries or expect a higher spice level with your romantic subplots.
Have you read Arsenic and Adobo or the other books in the series? Have you read other novels by PitchWars alums? Let's discuss in the comments!