BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Homicide and Halo-Halo [Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery 2] by Mia P. Manansala [in Shelf Awareness]

Cozy mystery label aside, Mia P. Manansala’s enticing second installment of her toothsome Tita Rosie’s Kitchen series opens with a warning: “I wrote Homicide and Halo-Halo while both me and my protagonist, Lila, were in rather dark places in our lives.” Introduced – and nearly killed – in Arsenic and Adobo, Lila “is still working through the repercussions” of solving a murder and avoiding her own a few months earlier. Being distracted means she’s not quite the equal business partner to BFF Adeena and Adeena’s girlfriend, Elena, at their Brew-ha Café. She’s somehow juggling two eligible single men – Adeena’s lawyer brother, Amir, and dentist Dr. Jae. Mostly Lila is practicing denial, despite panic attacks, truculently resistant to calling therapist Dr. Kang.

As if she needed more pressure, Lila agrees to be the last-minute replacement judge for the Miss Teen Shady Palms Pageant. Lila, as a former winner, might be experienced, but she’s certainly unprepared for another murder when Rob Thompson – whose family underwrites the pageant – is found dead. Lila’s cousin Bernadette becomes the prime suspect, and Lila knows she’s got to vindicate her family’s innocence – again.

Manansala references her own “mental health issues that a worldwide pandemic brought about,” channeling those challenges into helping Lila and her family heal. Food is the balm: Lila’s aunties are always ready with deliciously nourishing meals and Lila herself finally reclaims her baking mojo. The extended family’s Filipina American heritage becomes a bottomless vat of strength from which to rise. And for salivating readers, Manansala even appends tempting recipes at book’s end. Dig in!

Discover: Mia P. Manansala’s follow-up to Arsenic and Adobo stars Lila and her Shady Palms family and friends who again manage to solve another murder, undeniably fueled by delectable meals.

Review: “Fiction,” Shelf Awareness, February 15, 2022

Readers: Adult

Published: 2022


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