Blackmail and Bibingka: 02/22/23
Blackmail and Bibingka by Mia P. Manansala and Danice Cabanela (Narrator) (2022) is the third book in the Tita Rosie's Kitchen mystery series. Lila Macapagal is in full Christmas mode until her cousin Ronnie makes an appearance after fifteen years. He has come with news of opening a new winery, featuring coconut wine. Unfortunately one of his partners dies of poisoning and it looks like Ronnie did it, either deliberately or through negligence.
The dynamics between Ronnie and his partners reminds me of the family tension in Death by Espresso by Alex Erickson (2018). It's really like watching a shell game but with people, or in this case, fictional characters.
While not usually a fan of holiday themed books, the focus on Filipino traditions and recipes saved the mystery from falling into the usual Christmas sentimentality. I especially like how Lila works through updating recipes to work in her coffee shop to be both traditional tasting but also cross-culturally inviting.
The fourth book is Murder and Mamon. It releases on October 17, 2023.