Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #12)

( 119 )

Overview

The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar—and murder. As a shadow hangs over her friends' Christmas wedding, Hannah's determined to cook a killer's goose before anyone else gets burned...

The Cookie Jar's busiest time of the year also happens to be the most wonderful time...for Christmas cookies, Hannah's own special plum pudding—and romance! She also gets a kick out of ...

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Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #12)

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Overview

The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar—and murder. As a shadow hangs over her friends' Christmas wedding, Hannah's determined to cook a killer's goose before anyone else gets burned...

The Cookie Jar's busiest time of the year also happens to be the most wonderful time...for Christmas cookies, Hannah's own special plum pudding—and romance! She also gets a kick out of "Lunatic Larry Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot," a kitschy carnival taking place smack-dab in the middle of the village green. But then Hannah discovers the man himself dead as a doornail in his own office...

Now, with so many suspects to investigate and the twelve days of Christmas ticking away, Hannah's running out of time to nab a murderous Scrooge who doesn't want her to see the New Year...

Includes Hannah's favorite Christmas dinner recipes!

"Readers can't help but love Lake Eden and its warm and welcoming inhabitants." —Romantic Times

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Holiday business is booming at Hannah Swenson's Cookie Jar pastry shop, but the mysterious murder of "Lunatic Larry" Jaeger puts a serious crimp in the season of good cheer. From the looks of it, Larry had as many enemies as Hannah's sugar cookies have sprinkles. With the 12 days of Christmas ticking down and cookie orders piling up, tracking down the killer won't be easy. A clever whodunit with pastry recipe dividends.
Publishers Weekly
The Christmas season provides the backdrop for bestseller Fluke’s sprightly 12th Hannah Swenson holiday mystery (after Mar. 2009’s Cream Puff Murder). When Hannah, the proprietor of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minn., stops by the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot one night to pick up a check, she discovers the body of the owner, Larry Jaeger, inside “Elf Headquarters,” the double-wide trailer that was Larry’s home. Hannah’s “slay-dar” has led her to yet another murder victim. With the support of various friends and family, including her lively and manipulative mother, Delores, Hannah investigates. Her sessions in a class on small business practices raise her suspicions about the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. Cozy fans will cheer as Hannah survives a hair-raising confrontation with the killer to present an elegant Christmas eve banquet. Tempting recipes range from Hot Fudge Sundae Cakes to Triple Threat Chocolate Cheesecake Pie. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Baker Hannah Swenson, star of Fluke's popular cozy series (Candy Cane Murder), is busy with holiday orders when she stumbles across the body of a local businessman, murdered in his office. The list of suspects is long, and Hannah's time is running short, what with her big job catering desserts for the wedding of the season. Along with recipes for a complete Christmas dinner, this will appeal to Fluke's fans and cozy readers. [The first Swenson mystery, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, has been optioned for a Lifetime TV series.—Ed.]
Kirkus Reviews
Sleuthing Minnesota baker Hannah Swensen (Carrot Cake Murder, 2008, etc.) discovers that something just doesn't add up at a local holiday emporium. Even though she accompanies her mother Dolores to only one session of Lake Eden Community College's course in Small Business Practices, Hannah learns a lot about how to succeed in business without really trying. So when Dolores' shop assistant Luanne can't balance Larry Jaeger's books, Hannah wonders why the apparently thriving Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot isn't making any money. Larry's nearly doubled his order of White Chocolate Pumpkin Dreams and Fudge-Mallow Cookie Bars, and holiday shoppers have scarfed down all seven of the Minnesota Plum Puddings she sent him. But when she goes to collect her fee for the treats, she finds both Larry and his plasma TV riddled with bullets. Forget Hannah's inquiry into Carrie Rhoades's sudden unavailability to play bridge with Dolores or go to the movies with her son Norman, one of Hannah's two beaux. Instead, she cross-examines detective Mike Kingston, her other sweetie, to find out who might have it in for Larry. As her cat Moishe demolishes the handmade bird ornaments on her tree, Hannah unravels the tangle of schemes that brought Larry and his flat-screen to an untimely end. Fluke's tale of an unorthodox entrepreneur is really just business as usual. Neither the domestic details nor the staggering number of recipes give the mystery any more traction than an Oldsmobile in a Lake Eden winter.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758210258
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Series: Hannah Swensen Series , #12
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 128,279
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanne Fluke
Joanne Fluke

Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in sunny Southern California. She is currently working on her next Hannah Swensen mystery.

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Interviews & Essays

A Message from the Author
Dear Friends,

Christmas conjures up delightful images -- a lovely Christmas tree with twinkling lights and ornaments, a sumptuous Christmas dinner with everyone's favorite dishes, hot chocolate stirred with a cinnamon stick, and pajama-clad children rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning to see if Santa has left gaily-wrapped presents for good little boys and girls.

Hannah Swensen must have been very naughty this year, because in PLUM PUDDING MURDER, her surprise gift is one very dead Christmas Elf!

Of course the elf is not a real elf. He's Larry Jaeger, owner of the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot in Lake Eden, Minnesota. And now that Hannah has discovered Larry's body, she feels obligated to solve his murder during her busiest season of the year.

Mike Kingston, deputy sheriff and one of Hannah's boyfriends, warns her not to interfere with his official investigation. Norman Rhodes, town dentist and another of Hannah's boyfriends, offers to help her catch the killer. Hannah's two sisters, Andrea and Michelle are in on the search for the killer, along with their mother, Delores Swensen, whose friend is a murder suspect without an alibi.

Larry Jaeger couldn't have picked a worse time to become a murder victim. Hannah's investigation faces a raft of interruptions. There are hundreds of special orders for holiday sweets at The Cookie Jar, Hannah's bakery and coffee shop. Hannah's cat, Moishe, obviously believes that the Christmas tree in Hannah's living room is just a tree and should be treated as such. Norman is worried about the change in his mother, Carrie Rhodes, and asks Hannah to find the time to discover why she's being so secretive.

Somehow Hannah manages to do it all and keep a cool head in the process… until she confronts Larry Jaeger's killer in the icy cold of a Minnesota night. Deep in the woods. Alone. With no one close enough to hear her cry for help. Will Hannah manage to outwit the killer? Or will she become the second victim in the case the Lake Eden Journal is calling the "Crazy Elf Murder"?

Of course there are recipes - over thirty for you to try including the Swensen family's complete Christmas Eve Dinner. Every recipe was taste-tested by my family, friends, and neighbors. The consensus is that Hannah's Minnesota Plum Pudding is to die for, the Fudge Mallow Cookie Bars are incredibly yummy, and you can't eat just one Christmas Lace Cookie.

I hope you enjoy reading PLUM PUDDING MURDER as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm including the recipe for Christmas Lace Cookies so you'll have something to munch while you read. Since it's time for holiday fun, you may want to pick up two more of Hannah's Christmas adventures. SUGAR COOKIE MURDER involves a dead bride no one liked, a Lake Eden Christmas party, a blizzard, and the birth of Hannah's youngest niece. The second half of the book contains over 80 potluck recipes from Lake Eden's finest cooks. CANDY CANE MURDER is a collection of three novellas. In Hannah's story, right along with some yummy cookie recipes, someone does the unthinkable; they murder Santa Claus!

Thanks so much for your wonderful e-mails and snail mails. I just love being Hannah Swensen's biographer!

Jo Fluke

CHRISTMAS LACE COOKIES
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position

1 and ½ cups rolled oats (uncooked dry oatmeal - use the old-fashioned kind that takes 5 minutes to cook, not the quick 1-minute variety)
½ cup melted butter (1 stick, 1/4 pound)
¾ cup white (granulated) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon flour (that's right - one teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt
1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 beaten egg (just whip it up in a glass with a fork)
½ cup chocolate chips

Measure out the oatmeal in a medium-sized bowl. Melt the butter and pour it over the oatmeal. Stir until it's thoroughly mixed.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, flour, and salt. Mix well.

Add the sugar mixture to the oatmeal mixture and blend thoroughly.

Mix in the vanilla and the beaten egg. Stir well.

Add the chocolate chips and stir the mixture until it is well combined.

Line cookie sheets with foil, shiny side up. Spray the foil lightly with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray.

Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoon onto the foil, leaving space for spreading. Don't crowd these cookies together -- no more than 6 or 8 per sheet.

Hannah's 1st Note: I used a 2-teaspoon cookie scoop to form these cookies. It was just the right size.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Pull the foil off the cookie sheet to a waiting wire rack and cool thoroughly on the foil.

When the Christmas Lace Cookies are cool, peel them carefully from the foil and store them in a cool, dry place.

If you want to dress up these cookies for special company, wait until they're cool and drizzle them with melted chocolate chips mixed with coffee. Start with ½ cup of chips mixed with 6 Tablespoons coffee and microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH. Stir until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, add additional coffee and microwave in 20-second intervals on HIGH until you're able to drizzle it on the cookies.

Yield: One batch of Christmas Lace Cookies makes about 2 and ½ dozen cookies. This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled if you wish.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 119 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2010

    This series has run its course. Enough already.

    I found this one just plain annoying. The characters aren't growing at all. Hannah needs to make up her mind between the dentist and the cop or cut them both loose and go for someone else. Norm has moved beyond simply courteous to outright obsequious. Mike is just obnoxious. Seriously, who shows up at someone's home at 10:30 at night when they know the person gets up at 4:00 am? And who answers the door?

    The plot of this one was totally predictable - I figured it out about a third of the way through.

    I'm done with this series, which makes me sad, since I've read them all and enjoyed them greatly up until the last few.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    Recipes are the only redeeming part of this book.

    I have always enjoyed the Hannah Swenson books, but I have to agree with the reviewers who think the series has become dull and trite. The love triangle has lost its intrigue. Now it's just weird. I can't imagine three people having this kind of relationship in real life. The "mystery" has become secondary to the recipes. The dialogue between the characters is stilted and contrived. I skipped pages of this drivel to either get to the recipes or to whatever there was of the mystery...the solution of which was predictable. My suggestion?? Hannah has to make up her mind and marry either Norman or Mike. She needs to get involved in a complex mystery with more depth and intrigue, and keep the other characters' involvement limited to their participation in the mystery... no more sections like the ones devoted to Carrie and the man in suede boots!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    PLUM PUDDING MURDER is brilliantly executed

    December may be freezing in Lake Eden, Minnesota, but hearts are warm as the residents celebrate the holidays. This year entrepreneur Lunatic Larry Jaeger has created a Christmas shopping mall where he sells trees at cost. There are rides adding to the colonial like atmosphere as well as the Tree Lot store and food court in which the cookies are supplied by Cookie Jar owner Hannah Swensen and her business partner Lisa.

    The Mayor has cut short his fishing trip because he is concerned over Jaeger's business practices and as an investor wants to make sure his is safe and as the mayor he wants to keep everyone who goes to the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot safe from Larry's financial maneuvering. Larry's business partner and fiancée gives accountant Luanne the books for Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot to audit; she is up all night to find why they fail to balance. Hannah looks in on her and helps her return the books. When Hannah and one of her boyfriends Norman go to Larry to pick up her check, they find him dead and his large screen TV shot with holes. Her other boyfriend Mike the cop zeroes in on a suspect, but Hannah disagrees. She investigates with the help of friends and family and is almost killed by the real culprit.

    Minnesota in the winter as seen through the eyes of the natives is pictured as a freezing, snow filled and wind blown; yet these same natives find plenty of fun things to do to keep from going stark crazy. Thus the cast adds a sense of a vivid seasonal place that anchors the whodunit. This long running amateur sleuth retains the freshness of the first snow of the year. PLUM PUDDING MURDER is brilliantly executed and Hannah's inquiry seems credible though she should know by now an investigation can prove potentially lethal even when she asks a few penetrating questions out of inquisitiveness that she failed to recognize as dangerous.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    This was a little boring...

    Every Christmas season, cozy mystery authors like to pen a Christmas story with a little mystery.

    And I don't read these christmas cozies anymore....and this book is one of the reasons why.

    Pages and pages of finding a tree, decorating a tree, and trying to keep your cat off of the tree. Enough!

    We will take a little Christmas cheer with our mystery but this was too drawn out and dull.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    Another great read from Joanne Fluke.

    This author never disappoints me. I found this Hannah Swenson book just as hard to put down as the 11 before it. I love the writing style of this author. Her stories are easy to follow and not confusing at all. I never have to go through the previous chapters to try to figure out who somebody is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful read!

    Joanne Fluke is a great author. Every book in her series is one that you hate to put down. I tend to finish one and dive right into the next in the series. The endings are rarely predictable and the story line is very interesting. She includes some very interesting and yummy recipes for each book as well. Great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great, quick read with wonderful characters.

    Another great winner from Joanne Fluke. I love her characters and the recipes she includes in each book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    I read this book a few weeks ago. I liked the book. I try to fig

    I read this book a few weeks ago. I liked the book. I try to figure out who the killer is before I get to that part of the book. I had a hard time with this book. I really thought that it was the newest girlfriend/business partner, but I was wrong. Great book. I do, sometimes, wonder about the boyfriend thing though. And I wonder about the exercise thing too. If she is going to keep chasing murderers, she might need to be in better shape so that she may be able to get away from them or at least a little farther ahead of them. Just saying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    First and last one of these I will read.  I was looking for some

    First and last one of these I will read.  I was looking for some light holiday reading and picked this up, attracted by the Minnesota setting (where I grew up).  This book was inane:  endless, pointless details and dull characters eating and drinking coffee.  I thought I would like the setting, but this book is full of dumb cliches about Minnesota and Minnesotans.  (Yes, it does get cold and people plug in their cars, but enough already.)  Written for people who know nothing about the North Star State.  Shallow and annoying.   

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    Love this series and the recipes in each book are wonderful.

    Excellent !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Dani

    No.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Anonymous

    I really do enjoy these books a lot, but hannah does really need to make up her mind. When mike said"i guess that's why i'm a detective and you're not" to hannah, she should have snapped a comment right back!! Needs some more action between hannah,mike and norman

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  • Posted February 13, 2012

    Great series! Read in order!

    Love getting to know the characters!

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend

    I love the Hannah Swensen series and hope he continues to write more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2011

    If you are a cook you must check out her books

    I have read all 12 of the series and each one has given me much enjoyment.
    I have tried many of her recipes. I am going to buy her cookbooks. That way I will always have them. I am anxious to see what happens next with Hannah love life.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    Love this series!

    I love this series. No, it's not serious literature, but it never disappoints in the entertainment value. Always a quick and easy read and I like the characters. Fluke's recipes are great, too!

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  • Posted December 25, 2010

    Love the series

    As withthe rest of the Hanna Swensen series - a quick and fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2010

    Waste of time

    This is the first book by this author I have read. The murder took place more than halfway through the book. It wasn't a great mystery who killed the victim either. It seems that the book is basically a cookbook surrounded by simple, inane conversation. All the characters do is eat....& talk about food.There are recipes at the end of every chapter & a ton more at the end of the book. There is no substance to the story. It was a total waste of time for me. If I wanted recipes, I would get a cookbook.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2010

    As always, deliciously delightful!

    I always enjoy Fluke's books, including the recipes. They are not known for being incredibly original or unusual - they are just good, plain fun and it's not bad to be predictably fun.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Yummy Mystery

    To me reading the Hannah Swensen series is like sitting down with an old friend and swapping gossip and recipes- with a twist- murder. You don't have to read the books in order, bcause with all good friendships, every time you pick one up, you learn something new about your friends. And the recipes are another story! After reading this book I made the TRIPLE THREAT CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE PIE twice in 2 weeks!

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