MYSTERY

Mango, Mambo, and Murder

Crooked Lane. (Caribbean Kitchen Mystery, Bk. 1). Oct. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781643857848. $26.99. M
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DEBUTMiriam Quinones-Smith’s heart isn’t into the move to Coral Springs, FL, a 1950s time-warped village within Miami. She hoped to be a professor, teaching food anthropology in New York City. Instead, she’s a stay-at-home mother with her delightful son Manuelito. Her husband is off to work, golf, or maybe even an affair with his former girlfriend. Her mother-in-law disapproves of Miriam because she’s Cuban American. Her best friend Alma is her savior, dragging her to networking events including the Women’s Club Luncheon. There, Sunny Weatherman face-plants into the chicken salad. Everyone attributes her death to extreme diet and exercise fads. But Miriam noticed she mixed something into her drink before dying. When a yoga instructor also dies, and Alma is arrested, Miriam turns amateur sleuth. She’s no longer bored. Instead, she’s juggling a TV segment about Caribbean food for a Spanish network, taking care of her son, and prying into society life in Coral Springs to help the investigating police detective.
VERDICT The character-driven debut introduces a fresh protagonist, a Cuban American woman trying to maintain her culinary heritage and Spanish language while attempting to find friends and a killer.
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