by A.L. Herbert
Series: Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery #3
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Mahalia’s Sweet Tea boasts the most flavorful soul food in all of Prince George’s County, Maryland. But as events at the beauty industry’s leading trade show turn ugly, owner Halia Watkins needs to bite into an unsavory new item on the menu—murder!
When the chicest hair convention of the year gets cooking in town, so does business at Mahalia’s Sweet Tea. Halia can barely handle the influx of customers looking to satisfy their appetites after spending the day surrounded by outrageous runway styles. As buzz builds around beauty mogul and pop culture icon Monique Dupree, collard greens start moving out of the kitchen faster than models strutting down the catwalk . . .
But the glitz fades the moment Monique is found shot to death. Turns out, the glamorous entrepreneur’s vanity empire was stained by bitter rivalries, explosive affairs, and backstabbers scheming for fame and fortune. With more suspects than ingredients listed on a bottle of deep conditioner, Halia and her cousin Wavonne rush to discover who pulled the trigger—before the conniving culprit dishes another deadly surprise . . .
Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog. Today she is sharing the cozy mystery, Murder With Collard Greens and Hot Sauce by A.L. Herbert. Grab a coffee and enjoy! I don’t know about you but I love a foodie book with murder.
Sophia Rose’s Review
In my quest to discover more cozy mystery series to love, the title on this one leaped to the eye and pulled me in for a closer inspection. Soul food and murder? I’ll take a double helping of that, please.
Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce is the third book in the series, but I had no difficulty diving in with this book. I could tell that a handful of characters were recurring, but there didn’t seem to be a connecting series storyline that needed me to start from the beginning.
Mahalia and her lively cousin are getting their hair done at their usual stylist a few doors down from Halia’s restaurant when they learn a local minor celebrity, a hair care gal, will be bringing her entourage to Latasha’s salon because of how much Latasha has been able to sell Monique’s product. Halia and her mother make the refreshments for Monique’s visit and this draws them in to the flashy and fabulous Monique’s celebrity world just in time for a murder.
One of the wonderful things about cozies are how much attention they give to setting and to the average daily life of the characters as opposed to launching straight at the mystery and revving up the suspense. In this case, we have the world of hair care products and styling for black women and Halia’s own mouth-watering kitchen creations in her restaurant and her family life. While, as a white gal, I found the styling side interesting at first, there was a point where I was ready to tap out if there was one more mention of straightener or anti-frizz or conditioner. Like Halia, I like low maintenance dos and I don’t get into creative styling so I lost interest in the world of hair care rather quickly. Thankfully, the foodie angle and the lively cast of characters kept me going. Did I mention they end up at a drag queen event at a gay bar?
The murder takes a while to tease out between the long setup of the story introducing all the players and further revealing a bit about the regulars. I didn’t mind this since this was my first encounter with the series. Plus, the added character development gave me a better idea of the suspects. I wasn’t sure who did it and found the twist at the end to be a great surprise. This ended up being one of those stories that I was less into the book for the mystery as to enjoy the characters and their world. It wasn’t riveting, but I did get ‘cozy’.
Incidentally, the author graciously includes the recipes for all that mouthwatering food and beverages that Halia and her mama serve up.
So, if you are looking for a new cozy mystery series to try with a fun group of characters, some mouthwatering food, and a slow-burn mystery, take a gander at Murder With Collard Greens and Hot Sauce.