Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes

Mango, Mambo, and Murder: A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery by Raquel V. Reyes

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication date: 12 Oct 2021

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's description:

Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam QuiƱones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes's Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.

Food anthropologist Miriam QuiƱones-Smith's move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women's Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.

When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes--especially after the morning show's host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor's apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can't access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.

As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.

My review:

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

What a delightful cozy! I can’t wait to read more. It is very different than many cozies I have read, but it also hits many of the main points of “coziness” that I love and keeps me coming back to the genre. I liked the Spanish dialogue. I took four years in high school and college and have played around on keeping up my Spanish on Duolingo but I am nowhere near fluent. I was able to keep up with the Spanish dialogue fairly well though and the author provided enough contextual clues to figure out any of the more complex bits. 

The main character, Miriam, and her best friend, Alma, were wonderful. Miriam is so sweet and very real. There are so many likable characters… and, of course, a nemesis or two, though thankfully, one of those got their comeuppance in this first book in the series (I will NOT miss that character going forward). AND, there’s a cat… and kittens… so you know that always adds bonus points in my book. I learned a lot about Cuban cuisine as well. I had to look up so many things and… YUM! 

First installments often have clunky world-building but Ms. Reyes did a fantastic job of building all the various worlds in which Miriam finds herself. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. 

Fun stuff: 

Sign up for the author’s newsletter here:  She promises there will be recipes! 

About the author:

Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short story “A Star Goes Dark” is in the 15th Malice Domestic anthology.

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