Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?
This week’s guest is Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic and Adobo. In this brand-new cozy mystery novel, we follow Lila Macapagal as she returns to her hometown of Shady Palms after a stint in Chicago and the collapse of a relationship. She reunites with her childhood sweetheart, Derek, and starts working in her Tita Rosie’s restaurant. Except Derek’s a jerk, and a vengeful food critic to boot, and things immediately go awry when Derek drops dead at the restaurant. And Lila is immediately suspect number one.
Reflecting on the nature of mystery novels and what makes a favorite book, Mia chose middle grade classic The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Sixteen near-strangers, some neighbors and some unknowns, are summoned to the reading of a will. The deceased is Samuel Westing, an eccentric billionaire, who sees the will reading as his final game. All sixteen are challenged to get to the bottom of his untimely demise. With an immense fortune at stake and constant twists and turns, The Westing Game involves children and adults working together to get to the bottom of a very strange riddle.
Mia shares her insight on writing mystery as a person of color, what makes a satisfying middle grade novel, falling in love with a genre, and so much more. Mystery lovers, this episode is for you! And of course, no spoilers for either book.
Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link below, and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.