Saturday, January 21, 2017

REVIEW: Carrot Cake Murder

Carrot Cake Murder
Author: Joanne Fluke

Old family secrets are boiling just underneath the surface when a long-lost relative shows up at the Beeseman-Herman family reunion in Lake Eden, MN. Gus Herman reappears after 25 years, showing off very expensive clothes and jewelry and telling tales of his huge success. Obviously emotions are still raw, even decades after his disappearance in the middle of the night with no explanation. Hannah Swensen's business partner, Lisa, is a member of the family so The Cookie Jar is catering the event. To her mother's chagrin, Hannah discovers Gus' dead body in the pavillion. The prodigal family member has been stabbed with an ice pick.

There are more than 100 family members at the reunion. Who killed Gus? Why did he disappear all those years ago? With the help of friends and family, Hannah is on the case once again to track down the killer.

Carrot Cake Murder is the 10th book in the Hannah Swensen series. The recipes fit the plot....great potluck fare ranging from casseroles and Mexican hotdish  to decadent desserts like chocolate fudge cake and red velvet cookies. And, of course, there is a recipe for carrot cake!

The mystery is engaging with plenty of suspects and lots of sleuthing by Hannah and her friends. The strange love triangle between Hannah and her two love interests, Mike and Norman, continues...but it really isn't an integral part of this story. It's in the background, but not really important. That was a nice change. It's the one thing about  Hannah that annoys me.....she can't make up her mind which man she wants but she gets ridiculously jealous if either of them even look at another woman. I don't believe any self-respecting, intelligent man would put up with that sort of treatment for such a long time. But I also recognize that I have been pulled into this series partially because I want to know which man "wins,'' I'm reading the books as fast as I can -- and avoiding spoilers as best I can -- so that I can find out what happens. I have a guess....prompted by the ending of Carrot Cake Murder.....but I'm not saying a word.

Wanting to know the outcome of Hannah's love life isn't the only reason I enjoy the Hannah Swensen series. I like the characters, the recipes are amazing, and I like the setting. It reminds me of the town I grew up in. There are lots of culinary themed cozy mystery series out there today, but the Hannah Swensen series was one of the first. I read the first couple books when they came out and loved them.....then life happened (darn adulting taking up all my time!) and I never got to read the rest. Now that I only have one child at home,  I have more time for reading. So, I came back to the series and can't get enough of it! I've had the books on my shelf just waiting for me to have time to enjoy them -- so happy to finally be catching up on what's been happening in Lake Eden! :)

The Hannah Swensen series has 20 books, with #21, Banana Creme Pie Murder, coming out in late February. There is also a cookbook, Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook, and two holiday themed short story/novella collections that include Hannah stories. I highly recommend the series to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries or loves to bake -- the recipes are awesome! :)

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel has made four Hannah Swensen movies starring Allison Sweeney. There are some differences between the books and the movies, but they are fun to watch! So far, they have filmed movie versions of: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Book 1), A Plum Pudding Mystery (Book 12), Peach Cobbler Mystery (Book 7) and A Deadly Recipe (Fudge Cupcake Mystery - Book 5). Hopefully more are to come! Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel also has movies from several other cozy series -- check them out!

For more information on Joanne Fluke and her books check out her website:

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