Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
I recently was asked to be part of a digital book club for this great book blog account I follow on Instagram called Literary League, and their pick for the month of May was Arsenic and Adobo. I 100% said yes because firstly, how fun does this book look, and secondly, it would be such a blast to have an awesome discussion on this read! The book discussion takes place on Tuesday, May 25th and I will definitely post it on here so you can take a listen at our discussion of this read. This was my first time reading a cozy mystery book and I have to say it was everything I thought it would be like. Extremely cozy for sure! Let’s see what Arsenic and Adobo is all about.
The setting for this book is the Midwest in the US in a fictional small town outside of Chicago called Shady Palms.
We follow Lila Macapagal as she moves back home to her family’s place after a pretty nasty break-up. Back home, she is tasked with saving her Tita Rose’s failing restaurant all while dealing with her overbearing matchmaking aunties who shower her with lots of love and judgement. When a notoriously nasty food critic, who also happens to be her ex boy’f from way back when, drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life suddenly turns from a rom-com to murder mystery.
With local cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the landlord of the restaurant wanting to finally kick Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila is left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation to this murder. Armed with nosy aunties, her sassy barista bestie, and her trusted dachshund, Longganisa, Lila takes on this twisted and tasty case head on and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…
What an absolutely delicious cozy read this was! Let me tell you, I have never wanted to eat Filipino food so much in my life than when I read this book y’all! Every single scene was filled with such delicious treats, it was almost like a good 'ol recipe book - I loved it! Definitely do not read this book while hungry, I’ll tell you that much.
What a plethora of lovable, charismatic characters! There were a lot of aunties, quirky friends, and all kinds of interesting people to get to know in this book. A truly perfect setting for a cozy thriller. This entire family was extremely relate-able. I loved them all. Our main character Lila, oh bless her soul. She had a lot to deal with, I’m not gonna lie. It’s quite hard to have such an overbearing yet loving family and she definitely had some judgy aunties in tow too. I loved Lila’s best friend Adeena. She’s the kind of gal pal we all strive to have in our lives. A true soul mate. This book was filled with such lovable and memorable, funny characters. I loved them all.
The story itself starts out almost like a rom-com, boy meets girl, they break up (pretty nastily), she moves back to her hometown and in with her overbearing family, questions what is next, then boom. We’re hit with this super random and quite dramatic death and from then on it’s a total delightful and delicious who-dunnit thrilling and warming mystery. I loved the entire journey to trying to figure out who did the deed. It was such a deliciously glorious mystery. Cozy indeed!
This is the kind of book that you can read with a warming cup of tea and would also make a fabulous buddy read as well, especially for book clubs! There’s loads to dissect in each chapter. I really enjoyed it. I have to say my favorite parts though had to be all the FOOD! Oh my goodness this book, wow. You can tell the author is 100% passionate about food because good lord, the recipes mentioned in this book were all so damn tasty! It’s definitely made me want to eat more Filipino food and I learned a lot about Filipino culture too! Every single chapter was just so delectable. I loved all the food and sweet treats mentioned in this story.
The only negative aspect was I’m not sure if I was 100% sold on the 'cozy mystery' genre? A part of me would have actually read this book even if it wasn’t a mystery and was more about the characters and food. It felt at times a tad PG-13 or cheesy - especially if you read a lot of thrillers/mysteries like I do. But other than that, it was a super cute read and I enjoyed it.
This is a definite must read for people who love mystery but without all the intense, heart stopping crazy twists and turns. It was like a mega chilled and warming mystery. Also if you’re a massive food lover like I am then you will also love this book. It also helps that there were lots of interesting characters to get stuck into too, which made it even more cozy! I enjoyed it. I definitely will be reading more from this author. I’m always up for supporting minority authors and Manansala is definitely an author to watch out for. Also, how fun is this book cover?!
Ever since I saw the title of this book I knew immediately what the song pick would be! Haha It’s been stuck in my head for the entire book. Also, since the book is sort of based in the Midwest and Chicago, it just felt right. This is my first time picking a song from a musical, but this song is all about murder, and mischief and it’s sassy as all hell! I chose ‘Cell Block Tango’ from the movie production of Chicago. Such a tune! I love this musical and Catherine Zeta-Jones absolutely slays this song along with all the amazing women in it. They also mention Arsenic in the song too with an awesome line that goes -
"y’know, some guys just can’t hold their arsenic!"
....then it breaks into the most dramatic singing ever, haha love it.
To purchase a copy of Arsenic and Adobo on Amazon, click the link below.
Genre: Cozy Mystery | Suspense
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Pages: 336 Pages
Publisher: Berkley Books