Mia P. Manansala whips up another delicious Filipina American foodie mystery in Murder and Mamon, her fourth adventure in the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, featuring baker and amateur sleuth Lila Macapagal. As spring arrives in Shady Palms, Ill., Lila's three ninangs (godmothers)--April, Mae, and June, whom she calls the "Calendar Crew"--are preparing to open their own laundromat. But before their grand opening, the ladies are shocked to find a dead body in the building--plus some graffiti that makes Lila wonder if her ninangs' gossiping habit has caught up to them at last.
Manansala (Blackmail and Bibingka; Homicide and Halo-Halo; Arsenic and Adobo) brings back her diverse, bighearted cast of Lila's family and friends, including Lila's warm-and-fuzzy Tita Rosie; Rosie's formerly-no-good son, Ronnie; and Lila's business partners at the Brew-ha Café, Elena and Adeena. Everyone pitches in to comfort the ninangs and solve the case. Even Lila's dentist boyfriend, Jae, reluctantly lends a hand. Manansala peppers her narrative with Tagalog words, mouthwatering descriptions of Tita Rosie's Filipino feasts, and the Brew-ha's twists on café classics, including the titular mamon (a chiffon cake). During her investigation, Lila considers the damaging effects of her ninangs' sharp tongues, while also delving into an underground gambling ring; a scandal involving Ninang April's visiting niece, Divina; and--most dangerous of all--a longstanding feud between church ladies of a certain age. Witty and well-plotted, Manansala's fourth mystery is satisfying with a few twists, just like the ninangs' juicy gossip or a batch of Lila's pandan cheesecake brownies. Lovers of cozy mysteries, clever female sleuths, and baked goods will enjoy every bite. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams