I remember reading Arsenic and Adobo and just loving the mystery element. In this sequel, Manansala continues the mystery, themes of family, and great food in another thrilling story. This one has a bit more to explore – like mental health and trauma – so it’s a fantastic sequel! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new cafe after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.
To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago–a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case–because it looks like one of them might be next.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: PTSD, fatphobia, predatory behavior
As a full time fan of murder mysteries, I was so excited for Homicide and Halo-Halo. If you were worried if Manansala would continue delicious and delightful descriptions of food – worry not. Not only are there recipes at the back, but the food is going to make your mouth water. It’s also illustrates perfectly the way that food impacts our lives – the signifigance not only culturally but in our memories. All the differences a good nostalgic dish can make. The ways we can express love and tell stories through food. Food form the foundation for memories and gifts, apologies and celebration.
Lila is still reeling from the events of Arsenic and Adobo. But she won’t get a break in this one. Tensions rise from the beginning especially as she is re-immersed into her memories (and relationship with her mother) when she’s involved in the pageant again. She’s not only helping to solve another mystery to clear the family name, but to also avoid an attempt on her life. I loved the mystery element and the pageant scene. The memories, and working through her own issues with her mother and the pageant, was a fabulous character development.
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What I loved most about Homicide and Halo-Halo was the way that Manansala delves into family. How it’s so hard to apologize to family, to be open to them and show them your vulnerability because they see pieces of us we never show to others. It not only explores the ways that our family shows love and support, but also the stigma of therapy and getting help. Homicide and Halo-Halo delivers emotional highs and entertainment, with also a dash of seriousness.