Mystery Thriller Book Review

Arsenic and Adobo

Arsenic and AdoboArsenic and Adobo
Author: Mia P. Manansala
Series: Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery #1
Publisher: Berkley
First Published: May 4, 2021
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 330
Format: Paperback
Source: Library


When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she's the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila's left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

My Thoughts

I had never read a cozy mystery and I hadn’t had much of an interest until I spotted this book. I’m Filipino, so it was an instant yes for me to read. Aresenic and Adobo follows Lila, a Fil-Am woman helping her aunt manage a struggling restaurant that finds herself caught up in a murder mystery involving her ex-boyfriend. The chapters are short which keeps the pacing of this book snappy, it’s an easy book to binge.

“Food was how she communicated. Food was how she found her place in the world.”

One of my absolute favorite aspects of this book is the great emphasis on food. All of the Filipino food talked about throughout the book made my mouth water, and made me crave some sweet coconut water and a plate of adobo and rice. Food is an important part of Filipino culture, and the book gave made me think of home, I loved the fun cast of characters, especially Lila! I could relate to her, even though she could be frustrating at times. She has two love interests, both I found to be total heartthrobs, I didn’t know who to root for. The Filipino-isms peppered throughout this book made me laugh but also groan in how relatable it was.

When I finished the book I felt all warm and fuzzy, and I understood the appeal of the cozy mystery genre. Just enough mystery and adventure for a little excitement, but a greater focus on the amusing cast of characters. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and will definitely be watching out for more books by this author.


About Mia P. Manansala

Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.

She is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. She’s also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018-2020 mentor.

A lover of all things geeky, Mia spends her days procrastibaking, playing JRPGs and dating sims, reading cozy mysteries, and cuddling her dogs Gumiho, Max Power, and Bayley Banks.

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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