Months after solving a murder in Arsenic and Adobo, Filipina baker and amateur sleuth Lila Macapagal is back in the second book in the series: Homicide and Halo-Halo. This time, Shady Palms’ small town beauty pageant reveals a dark underbelly, and when someone turns up dead, all eyes are on Lila to solve a murder once again.
Facing up to the past is difficult for Lila, who was once a winner of the Shady Palms teen beauty pageant she’s called upon to judge. But when one of the pageant leaders is murdered, it brings up uncomfortable truths no one in her family is ready to face, and strains their bond nearly to the breaking point as they all attempt to move forward.
For this follow-up novel, author Mia P. Manansala has spoken extensively about slightly bucking genre tradition in having Lila face the trauma caused by the events of the first book in the series. While most cozy mysteries leap from murder to murder, their protagonists seemingly unaffected, Manansala wanted something more for Lila, and learning to care for her mental health is a large part of the plot.
Food and family are another driving point of this book, staying true to the close-knit world Manansala wove into Arsenic and Adobo. Homicide and Halo-Halo sees Lila experimenting with traditional Filipino ingredients to make her bakery’s offerings shine, and readers won’t be disappointed – Manansala’s book club kit includes several recipes to recreate at home, including this one for Chicken Adobo, chicken cooked in what is considered the famed national style of the Philippines.
Fans of cozy mysteries will delight in the small-town drama, complete with Lila enmeshed in a will-they, won’t-they love triangle, secure in the knowledge that the amateur sleuth they’ve come to love and her closest confidants will once again make the town safe for all of them… until the next time.
Homicide and Halo-Halo came out in February and is available now everywhere books are sold. The next book in the series, Blackmail and Bibingka, releases this October.