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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's No Fluke - Culinary Mystery Writer Cooks Up A Delicious Tale

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's bad enough that Hannah Swensen can't get her mother off her back, can't find a decent man in a town with a population of 3,000, and can't compete with her beautiful sister - but now, she may have actually killed someone with her cooking. As owner of The Cookie Jar, a popular hangout in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, she's used to baking up "killer" recipes. It's just that none of them have ever had quite such literal results. So, when well-liked delivery man Ron LaSalle turns up dead, with Hannah's Chocolate Chip Crunches scattered around his corpse, it just doesn't look good. Not good at all.

Hannah's brother-in-law Bill, who also happens to be Lake Eden's deputy sheriff, soon clears her of any wrongdoing. It's clear that Ron's death has nothing to do with cookies and everything to do with the bullet hole in his chest. Still, Hannah's got a reputation to uphold - the fact that Ron's body was found in the alley behind her shop doesn't bode well for business. There's only one solution to the problem - she's got to figure out who offed everyone's favorite deliveryman. If she can help Bill achieve detective rank in the process, so much the better.

While Hannah bakes up goodies in The Cookie Jar's kitchen, she keeps an ear to the gossip circulating in the dining room. It's not long before she has herself a whole list of suspects. Bill's warned her not to get too involved, but he's also made her his unofficial assistant on the case, so it's full-speed ahead for the intrepid baker. Armed with bags of cookies, she plies the townsfolk for information, and ends up with a whole lot more than she bargained for - including a second corpse. With a calendar full of catering jobs, a meddling mother, and an intriguing new friendship with the local dentist, Hannah really doesn't have time to be running all over town trying to solve a murder. And she certainly doesn't have time for the stalker parked outside her condo, or the mounting danger barrelling toward her. But, if you think that will stop her, think again. The cookie-baking super sleuth is about to risk life and limb to find a killer.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke boasts a fun plotline - if a tad bit far-fetched - made even more scrumptious by the inclusion of Hannah's recipes. In the tradtion of cozies,this one's not all that realistic - after all, Hannah turns up clues right and left, while Bill stumbles around in the dark - but it's enjoyable nonetheless. Don't expect a lot of character development, really surprising plot twists or Pulitzer Prize-winning writing here. It's light, fluffy, unsophisticated fun.

That said, I have to whine a little about my one big beef with Hannah Swensen. I swear, if Fluke hadn't mentioned her age (30, I believe), I would have believed her to be a grey-haired retirement home candidate. She just doesn't think, act or speak like someone of my generation. I mean, c'mon, her possible love interests are guys named Norman and Herb. This is probably a minor complaint next to the fact that her extreme involvement in a murder case is completely unbelievable, but still ...

It has been suggested that I need to lighten up a little in order to really enjoy cozies. So, that's what I'm doing here. Forget the fact that Hannah talks like a 60-year-old, forget her unrealistic involvement in her brother-in-law's murder case, forget her ability to find clues where no one else can - and just enjoy this delicious caper. Oh yeah, your tummy's going to get a little rumbly with this one, so make sure there's a cookie (or two) close at hand.

Grade: B
Note: Remember to comment on this post if you want to be entered into the drawing for a copy of this book. Contest is open to international readers. Click the button above for more info.


  1. I have been wanting to read this for a while! I would love to be entered!:)

  2. This is one of my favorite series when I want a light read. The recipes are definitely a plus, unless you're trying to diet!

  3. does this book have the cookies with tomato soup as the secret ingredient? those were pretty good, if a little different. mine turned out very flat though.

  4. I thought this was a really fun book. Great literature? No, but there are times that a cozy mystery just really hits the spot. It seems like including recipes in a novel is getting more common. I wonder if Joanne Fluke started the trend?


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