Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mysteries by A.L. Herbert

The Hallmark Channel and Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote) might have you convinced that cozy mysteries are strictly for and about white women. Dear readers, I'm here to tell you they are not! During my extended hiatus from blogging, I took the time to read a diverse array of books and discovered not only do I love cozy mysteries, there are a numbers of series featuring black protagonists, written by black authors.
Welcome to Mahalia's Sweet Tea--the finest soul food restaurant in Prince George's County, Maryland. In between preparing her famous cornbread and mashed potatoes so creamy "they'll make you want to slap your Momma," owner Halia Watkins is about to dip her spoon into a grisly mystery. . .
The titles are a bit kooky, but I love A.L. Herbert's Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mysteries. While most cozies are set in small towns, Herbert sets hers in Washington DC and Prince George's County in Maryland. Halia, full-time restaurateur and part-time detective, and her quirky cousin Wavonne find themselves in a number of predicaments. And, as is usually the case, there's a police detective who hates their interference, but has to admit the cousins are pretty good at figuring things out.

I love the realness of the characters: Halia is serious and focused on making her restaurant a success; younger cousin Wavonne is focused on designer clothes and snagging a rich man (providing well-timed comic relief; and Halia's mother, Celia, is focused on getting Halia married off so she can give her grandkids. One more thing to love about the series is the  recipes the author sprinkles throughout the book. They're not at the end of every chapter, so you don't feel like you're reading a cookbook, but there are enough recipes for you to know the author loves food and loves cooking. I'm dying to trip out a few of the recipes myself, the butter pecan cake in particular.

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles and Murder with Macaroni and Cheese are out now. Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce is out March 26 and I promise you're going to love it like a red velvet cupcake!

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