It’s time for a savory soirée—but something sinister is stewing—in Raquel V. Reyes’s second delightful Caribbean Kitchen mystery, perfectly delicious for fans of Mia P. Manansala.
Fall festivities are underway in Coral Shores, Miami. Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith wakes up to find a corpse in her front yard. The body by the fake tombstone is the woman that was kicked out of the school's Fall Festival the day before.
Miriam's luck does not improve. Her passive-aggressive mother-in-law puts her in charge of the Women's Club annual gala. But this year, it's not canapes and waltzes. Miriam and her girlfriends-squad opt for fun and flavor. They want to spice it up with Caribbean food trucks and a calypso band. While making plans at the country club, they hear a volatile argument between the new head chef and the club's manager. Not long after, the chef swan dives to his death at the bottom of the grand staircase.
Was it an accident? Or was it Beverly, the sous chef, who is furious after being passed over for the job? Or maybe it was his ex-girlfriend, Anastasia?
Add two possible poisonings to the mix and Miriam is worried the food truck fun is going to be a major crash. As the clock ticks down and the body count goes up, Miriam's life is put in jeopardy. Will she connect the dots or die in the deep freeze? Foodies and mystery lovers alike will savor the denouement as the truth is laid bare in this simmering stew of rage, retribution, and murder.
Reyes's enjoyable if uneven sequel to 2021's Mango, Mambo, and Murder finds cooking show host Miriam Quinones-Smith just wanting peace as she prepares for her second baby at her home in Coral Shores, "a village within Miami," Fla. But then the words Help Murder are painted on her house, and an almost-dead woman turns up in her front yard. Even planning for the tedious Women's Club gala turns treacherous when the executive chef is found dead. As the attacks and body count pile up, Miriam's friend Ana is brought in for questioning by the police. Intrepid Miriam doesn't trust the investigation and sets out to unearth the truth to protect her friends and family. Too much everyday minutiae slows the complicated plot, which builds to a rushed conclusion full of explanations of various motives, though the untranslated passages of Spanish lend color, and readers are sure to savor the delectable recipes at the end. Fans of Mia P. Manansala's Arsenic and Adobe will want to check this out. Agent: Saritza Hernández, Andrea Brown Literary.