Over the course of the summer, Jezebel is asking authors from across genres to recommend summer reads. Today’s guest is Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic and Adobo, the kickoff to a new cozy mystery series. Protagonist Lila Macapagal moves home after a breakup and is quickly enlisted in reviving her Tita Rosie’s restaurant; inconveniently, her food critic ex turns up dead and Lila must turn her hand to the time-honored tradition of amateur sleuthing. For your summer reading pleasure, she recommends mysteries featuring ghosts, Sherlock Holmes, Grindr, and shaved ice and ice cream both.
Killer Content, Olivia Blacke
Odessa Dean, the protagonist in Blacke’s debut cozy mystery, is an absolute treasure. I enjoy a good fish-out-of-water story, and following the exploits of the sweet Southern transplant who temporarily takes up residence in Williamsburg, NYC to watch over her aunt’s cat, only to stumble into a murder case made for a fun, fast read. Blacke’s voice and humor are exactly what the cozy mystery genre needs.
Dead Dead Girls, Nekesa Afia
It is 1920s Harlem, and all Louise “Lou” Lloyd wants to do is dance—too bad there’s a serial killer on the loose, murdering young Black girls like her and her sisters. After an altercation with the police, she is given an ultimatum: help them catch the killer or go to jail. Not what I’d call a “feel-good” story, but you’ll quickly get lost in the world and characters that Afia created. Highly recommend reading with a cocktail in hand and a swinging playlist in the background.
A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
My goodness, does Sherry Thomas know how to write a slow burn romance or what? Not only does this gender-bent take on Sherlock Holmes provide a fascinating and twisty (and rather twisted) mystery, but the feminist commentary on the accepted social norms of the day and the absolute yearning between Charlotte Holmes and her good friend Lord Ashburton quickly made The Lady Sherlock books my absolute favorite series and Sherry Thomas one of my insta-buy authors.
Can’t have a summer reading list without ice cream! GAME OF CONES is the latest book in the Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series, which follows Bronwyn “Win” Crewse as she revitalizes her family’s ice cream parlor, Crewse Creamery, in small-town Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She has to deal with family drama, small town life, and possibly a murder or two while she’s at it. The books also include ice cream recipes!
Iced in Paradise, Naomi Hirahara
While I dearly love ice cream (it’s an anytime food, you know), when the temperature and humidity begin to climb, my biggest craving is for bowls of shaved ice. There are many different versions among Asian and Pacific Islander communities, but Hirahara’s book is centered around a family-owned Hawaiian shave ice shack in Kaua’i. The protagonist Leilani Santiago returns home to help run the family business after her mother’s diagnosed with MS, and her family life becomes even more complicated after her estranged father is accused of murdering the pro surfer he was coaching. Food, family, and murder—my favorites!
Fatality in F, Alexia Gordon
The fourth book in the Gethsemane Brown mystery series follows the series’ titular amateur sleuth’s not-so-relaxing summer as her town’s Rose and Garden Show turns deadly, and one of her best friends is the suspected killer. The series is set in Ireland and follows a Black female musician making a new life for herself in a haunted cottage (oh yeah, the first book involves her befriending a ghost), so if you’re up for some armchair traveling, light paranormal activity, and/or are a music lover, this is the series for you.
Bath Haus, PJ Vernon
Gone Girl with gays and Grindr. Come on, with a pitch like that, how can you NOT be intrigued? I’ve been sticking with romance and lighter mysteries for the past year, but I made an exception for BATH HAUS, and it absolutely delivered. Out June 15.
The Tiger Mom’s Tale, Lyn Liao Butler
My favorite themes to explore in books (as both a reader and writer) are the Asian diaspora, food, and family—Butler’s debut has all of that and so much more. I was lucky enough to read an early version of this book, and Lexa’s journey to reclaim her Taiwanese heritage and family (or not) will have you laughing, crying, and so, so hungry. Make sure to have some sesame balls on hand while reading. Out July 6.