Sunday, January 24, 2016

REVIEW: Cookies and murder! A great cozy mystery series

Key Lime Pie Murder
Author: Joanne Fluke
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp, 2007
Genre: Mystery
342 pages

In the wintertime when it finally gets chilly here in the South, I love to spend a Sunday afternoon on the sofa with my chihuahuas, a warm blanket & fuzzy socks, a cup of hot tea, and a cozy mystery novel. Cozies range from cute kitschy stories with sleuth dogs and cats to more serious mysteries, but they all follow some basic rules:  keep it hard core spurting blood or profanities; make it fun; and the good guys always win in the end.

Basically, a cozy is a nice afternoon murder mystery that leaves you feeling energized not traumatized.

One series that I have been reading off and on for years is the Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke. The kitsch in this series is the main character runs a dessert bakery and the books are filled with recipes from her shop, The Cookie Jar. Hannah is from Lake Eden, a small town in Minnesota. She has not one, but two, love interests (one of which is a cop, of course), a nosy mother who is trying desperately to marry her off, a sister who is married to the police chief.....just a great setup for a cozy series!

The books are light reads....a perfect distraction for an afternoon or two. No sex, no cursing, no blood spurting, and lots of kitsch (and yummy recipes!)....formula cozy mystery. The book I have pictured here, Key Lime Pie Murder, is the 9th book in the series. There are 18 books in the series so far, with #19 Wedding Cake Murder coming out in March. If you know which love interest she finally decided to marry....don't tell me! I still have six more books to read! :) No spoilers! Dentist or Detective.  So hard to choose!

In Key Lime Pie Murder, Hannah is judging the baking contest for the county fair when a fellow baking contest judge is murdered on the Midway.  Soon Hannah is sifting through suspects and looking for clues. A fun read!

I like Joanne Fluke's writing. Her characters are engaging and fun, without being over-developed. Just the right amount of fluff and no plodding or extra padding to weigh down the story. The books are fun romps just like they are meant to be. She doesn't go short on the recipes either. Key Lime Pie Murder includes 16 recipes ranging from the required Key Lime Pie recipe to instructions on how to make deep fried candy bars (I gained a pound just typing that, by the way).

Hallmark Channel has made 3 of the books into made-for-television movies called Murder, She Baked (yes,they went there -- and it's cute).  The movies are on their new Halmark Movies & Mysteries channel. I've watched all 3 -- the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (book 1), A Peach Cobbler Mystery (book 7) and A Plum Pudding Mystery (Book 12). They star Allison Sweeney, who used to be the host on Biggest Loser (and she also portrayed Sami Brady on Days of our Lives). She does a great job in the role of Hannah, although in the books Hannah has red hair and is slightly overweight.

The Hallmark Channel website has some neat extras including outtakes and interviews with the cast from the movies here:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery Movie

Plum Pudding Mystery Movie

Peach Cobbler Mystery Movie

The Plum Pudding Mystery website has a download link for a free ebook version of  A Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.

My rating: 8/10
Some mild violence...not graphic.
Ages 10 & up

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