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Death Comes in Through the Kitchen

2.77  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution, complete with authentic Cuban recipes

Havana, Cuba, 2003: Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. But Yarmi isn’t there to
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Soho Press
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Average rating 2.77  · 
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Dash fan
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
3 A Murder Mystery

Death Comes in through the Kitchenis a murder mystery.

When I read the blurb for the book I was intrigued and excited as I have always wanted to travel to Havana and I love murder mysteries.

Unfortunately the blurb and the plot just didn't seem to give me the same excitement.

I have to say I spent a fair amount of time confused and back tracking to work out who was who and their characters relationships. So it slowed my reading down and took me alot longer to get into the story.

Mar 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can tell you when I stopped reading this book. It was some time after about the 50th stereotype and just after our main character notes that the (insert gay slur here) left the room.

It wasn't the first gay slur in the book, though others were in Spanish. But what got me more than anything was how matter of factly it was said. It wasn't because our main character was supposed to be some homophobic horror show. It wasn't supposed to be funny (and it wouldn't have been). It was just as as though
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Stupid San Diego journalist gets involved in a virtual relationship with a Cuban food blogger and thinks he is going to marry her. He arrives in Cuba with a wedding dress. She doesn't meet him at the airport, and when he arrives at her place, she's dead. The story goes downhill from there. The Cuban authorities think he's a government spy. He discovers his beloved is also seeing another man. He has no rights because he's in Cuba during a time before the United States resumed relations with the ...more
Bena Roberts
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
My Review

If you love Latino, food, cooking and detective work this is the book for you!

The Good

I enjoyed the start and it triggered my interest with the wedding dress. Cuba, customs etc. I enjoyed the start.

The Bad

I was a bit confused with the woman ending up dead and then the mystery of it all. I also had a bit of a problem with all the Spanish!

The Ugly

This is an OK read and holiday detective fiction

3 Stars - I read this as part of a blog tour
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

When I was offered this Cuban-authored novel to read for its Rachel's Random Reads blog tour I leapt at the chance and I wasn't disappointed. The story is more cosy mystery than gritty crime thriller and I loved Dovalpage's descriptions of colourful Havana. A city blighted by poverty, it is a place of strong community and of entrepreneurial inventiveness despite the authoritarian oppression of the state. Death Comes In Through The Kitchen
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
A food-centric murder mystery set in Cuba? Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, Matt (the ostensible protagonist) was an unpleasant, condescending, judgmental asshole and the ending to the central mystery was a convenient coincidence. In other words, it's not up to the standard that I expect from Soho Crime.

Some of the recipes sounded tasty, though.
Geoff. Lamb
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Death Comes in Through the Kitchen is a surprisingly good novel, if a cynical story. That things will not be as first seen is a given by chapter 2. Matt is a conflicted character, not the person we or he might imagine. My favourite characters were detective Martinez and former detective Padrino. It is not that we learn anything especially new about Cuba or its Castro and post-Castro society. What the author does is offer panoramic view of grifters, whores (in the broadest, most societal sense of ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.
Death Comes in Through the Kitchen was disappointing. The fish out of water American in Cuba could have been much more interesting. The murder mystery could have been more compelling. It was a slog to read this book through to the end - the characters were unlikable and unsympathetic and the action often got bogged down by minutiae. What kept me going were the few and far between moments where I felt like I
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
This is the first book I've read by Teresa Dovalpage, and I don't know much about Cuba and I have never been there, so this book was a fun experience for me, especially since it was a mystery book and I love those.

The author gave us a flavorful book, full of mystery and culinary references, and those are two of my favorite things, especially in the past few months. And the setting gave the story this colorful and intriguing tone to it. But it wasn't just the setting that made this book stand out
Jamie Canaves
A San Diego editor/writer flies to Cuba in 2003 to ask his Cuban girlfriend to marry him. But instead of the beginning of a great love story, Matt finds his girlfriend Yarmila dead. Now the Cuban government has taken Matt’s passport while they investigate, leaving him stuck in a communist country without a U.S. embassy. As the police and a PI santero work on solving who murdered Yarmila, we get to know her through her past food blog posts and watch as Matt learns about the Cuban girlfriend he ...more
A 'culinary mystery' set in 2003 Cuba with a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Who wouldn't want to read this? Well, it had me a bit off balance at first. The story moves in sections separated by posts from Yarmila's Cuban cooking blog. Matt, from San Diego, arrives in Havana prepared to ask her to marry him, but is met by a very distressful state of affairs. As I continued to read I settled in to the pace of the story and came to like several of the characters a lot, until I found that I ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was immediately intrigued by this book as a result of the title and the setting. Admittedly, I know virtually nothing about Cuba, its history, nor its relationship with the US (I can say that as a Brit, although I probably shouldn't!) Anyway, I picked up the book and jumped right in.

I wasn't disappointed as huge, colourful characters with larger than life personalities jumped off the page. Vivid settings and intricate details brought vibrant stories alive.

Matt, a hopeless romantic, planning to
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
Death Comes in Through the Kitchen is a detective novel set in Cuba, where the investigation of the murder by a Santeria "priest" shares page space with blog posts that outline how to cook various items of Cuban cuisine, written by Yarmila, the victim of the murder and the girlfriend of Matt, an American who came to the country intent on marrying her.

Matt is a bit of an insecure character, a journalist in America whose characterization ranges from being compared to a "nervous high schooler" to
Jena Henry
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever thought Why are so there so many books? Why do people like to read anyways, books are boring?! Well, here is my answer. Read this book and you will be hooked on reading. Death Comes in through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage is an amazing, one of a kind book. I could end my review here…

…but I will tell you more because I was so entranced by this book. The author has mixed equal parts hope and history, innocence and despair, beauty and squalor to create a vivid, gritty, but
Kimberly Ann
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow: what a powerful book; although classified as "mystery" it is political as well. It is multi-layered and the characters are as real as one can get without being caricatures.

I was drawn in by the cover, but the title reminded me of a typical cozy, which this thankfully, certainly is not.

Matt, a food journalist from San Diego, returns to Cuba thinking that he is going to marry Yarmila, the editor of a very popular Cuban food blog written in English.

Matt arrives w/ Anne, the American cougar,
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Starts out brilliant, clever, fun, engaging, and quickly slides to moderately interesting, burdensome, and gritty. The sections are all over the place - is this maybe like the experience of Cuba?

The recipe blogs of the dead woman are the most interesting parts of the book. Their energy and charm do not carry through. Interesting characters are brought in but not developed well, and the end result is a feeling of potential unfulfilled, a tale adequately told but not enlightening.

Given the setup,
Alan Teder
Cozy Cuban Noir
Review of the Soho Crime paperback edition (2019) of the original Soho Crime hardcover (2018)

I enjoyed the variety of this first 'Havana Mystery' by Teresa Dovalpage which is an odd mashup of a food cozy with the underlying edge of the Cuban Black Spring of 2003. There are also shifts of PoV from the American protagonist Matt and Cuban police investigator Martinez and her past mentor El Padrino, who is actually the major detective in this case and apparently in the follow-up
Caroline Venables
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting mystery set in Cuba. Apart from being a good read, I found the history and use of language added to the authenticity of the book. I know nothing about Cuba and its history and this book gave a small insight into the country.
This is highlighted by the recipes that are included in the book, these appear as posts on Yamila’s blog. This was a really good touch and in the context of the story added another layer.
The story starts as Matt arrives in Cuba to meet Yamila, the
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Matt travels to Havana to meet his Cuban fiancee, to get married, and hopefully persuade her to return with him to New Mexico, where he is a reporter for a small Spanish newspaper. But nothing is as simple as it appears, and complications arise that floor Matt and have him having to deal with the police and Cuban security all while he interacts with the various local people, learns about life and culture and religion in Havana, and tastes their food.

A murder mystery is seen first through the
Natalie Gardner
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was really drawn to this book – the blurb, the front cover – it all sounded so different to other things I’ve read. I wasn’t disappointed.

I really enjoyed the introduction to Cuba and especially the food references – Yarmila’s blog is one I would definitely follow if it were real! The setting really helps the book stand out as interesting and different which I loved.

I was unsure about Matt – he wasn’t the most relatable or the kind of hero you want in a story. It was good to read about Cuba
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a story set in Cuba, it's about a middle aged journalist from America who falls in love with a Cuban girl who is not what she seems to be. This woman has a cooking blog which is how she and the journalist connected, he travels to Cuba with a wedding dress but has not yet asked her to marry him and doesn't even know if she will accept his proposal,kind of a pathetic figure. When he arrives he expects to meet her at the airport but she isn't there so he rides with a friend. When he goes to ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Death Comes in through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovelpage, Matt, a food journalist from San Diego, goes to Cuba to try to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila. It is 2003, and Fidel Castro is still in power, and regulations control everything. Yarmila writes a food blog that led Matt to discover his girlfriend. Now, he is determined to get Yarmila to marry him, even bringing along a ring and a wedding dress. But when he arrives at the airport, Matt can’t find Yarmi waiting for him, so he gets a ride to ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I normally don't rate/review books I don't like...because a lot of my dislike has to do with personal preference. However, in the case of this book a review is well warranted. The gay slurs and the incredibly 1980s negative stereotypes of the gay community (including a totally unnecessary assault of a child...which makes the character then wonder if (as an adult) he's actually gay...implying that pedophiles make people gay) make this one of the most backward looking books I've had the misfortune ...more
Sarah Idriss
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got this as an ARC from my local bookseller (shout out to Porter Square Books for crushing indie bookstore day!)

Overall I was lukewarm on the mystery surrounding what happened to Yarmila. I loved the insight into Cuba during this time period, the foodie elements, and the wacky characters. Very readable and made for a nice subway commute. But at a certain point the story took a weird, sudden turn with Matt’s character (weird because it was out of left field and maybe totally unnecessary to the
Jessica Belmont
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has such a unique and cool concept. I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading. I could picture the people and places. I really had a sense of the culture and history of Cuba.

I couldn’t really put this novel down. It was such a compelling mystery with well developed characters, that I needed to keep reading. Twists and turns galore.

Death Comes in Through the Kitchenis a fantastically paced, intriguing novel with compelling characters and a plot you wont be able to resist.
Christine Fuentes
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've been to Cuba. I speak Spanish. I love mysteries/thrillers/suspense books. I enjoy reading sprinkles of other languages utilized to establish authenticity. That being said, the poor writing of this book was a deep disappointment. I'm thinking that a few more re-writes and a really, really good editor would have improved this to a more readable tome but in its current state it's simply a hot mess with its disjointed plot and characters both undeveloped AND unbelievable. Nice try but no cigar ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Actually, I'd give this a little higher than 2 stars, but I think that the book fell short of my expectations and what the writer could have achieved. The setting and the cooking and cultural descriptions carried it, and it was fascinating to learn about Cuba. The characterizations were on the weak side, and the main character was pretty flat and unbelievable. I hope that the author writes again, as I think that she has promise. (Copy from Soho Press)
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An intriguing look at Cuba in the early 2000s. Matt Sullivan has been corresponding with a Cuban food blogger named Yamila Portal. They met once and then he returns home, but their correspondence continues. He decides to return to Cuba to ask her to marry him, but when he arrives, she is found dead in her bathroom. A twisting, turning, never knowing which end is up mystery, that will shock you with the ending. Enjoyed it very much, especially having been to Cuba.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2018
This is a book that did not live up to the promise of the cover copy. Instead, there were unsympathetic, two dimensional characters; and an uneasy mix of tones (light and fluffy blog posts, mean-spirited pot-shots taken at main characters). I felt like I got the whole plot from reading half the book (first-middle-last 50 pages), which makes me think there was a lot of repetition. Falls flat. ...more
Cathy Cole
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Cuban-born Teresa Dovalpage takes readers right into the heart of Havana; indeed, the setting was one of my favorite parts of the book. The other part I liked was the mystery itself surrounding Yarmila the food blogger. Having Matt realize that he really didn't know her was to be expected; what does come as a surprise is just what Yarmila was up to.

Unfortunately, except for Lieutenant Marlene Martínez of the magnificent posterior, none of the rest of the characters fired me up at all. Even the
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Goodreads Librari...: Just one Kitchen 2 14 Dec 21, 2018 02:09PM  

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Teresa Dovalpage is a Cuban writer. She was born in Havana but left in 1996 for the United States where she has been living ever since. She obtained her doctorate in Latin American literature from the University of New Mexico. She has published eight novels till date. Her third novel Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006) was runner-up for the Premio ...more