Homicide and Halo-Halo

Berkley. (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery, Bk. 2). Feb. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780593201695. pap. $16. M
Lila Macapagal can’t bring herself to tell her partners that she’s not ready for the soft opening of her dream, the Brew-ha Café. She’s still traumatized by a murder and being held by a killer several months ago. She ignores a police detective’s suggestion to go into therapy; instead, she agrees to be a judge for the biggest local event of the year, the Miss Teen Shady Palms Pageant (Lila was a former winner). When she finds the body of the pageant sponsor, who’s a fellow judge, Lila’s cousin Bernadette is the primary suspect. Bernadette had just argued with the man over his predatory behavior toward a teen. Lila and Bernadette have always been rivals, but Lila is willing to look for the real killer, until, once again, she becomes a target.
VERDICT While the follow-up to Arsenic and Adobo is a cozy mystery, it’s darker, dealing with PTSD, predatory behavior, dismissive attitudes toward mental health, and other issues. Filipino American food and culture, as well as family and community, remain essential elements in the story.
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