Coconut Layer Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #25)

Coconut Layer Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #25)

by Joanne Fluke


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Bakery owner Hannah Swensen is leaving Lake Eden to help a friend in sunny California. But an unexpected phone call swiftly brings her back to a cold Minnesota winter . . . and murder . . .
When Hannah learns that her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Detective Lonnie Murphy, is the prime suspect in a murder case, she goes straight from a movie studio sound stage to the Los Angeles airport.
Back in frigid Minnesota, she discovers that proving Lonnie’s innocence will be harder than figuring out what went wrong with a recipe. Lonnie remembers only parts of the night he went out to a local bar and ended up driving a very impaired woman home. He knows he helped her to her bedroom, but he doesn’t recall anything else until he woke up on her couch the following morning. When he went to the bedroom to check on her, he was shocked to discover she was dead.
Hannah doesn’t know what to believe—only that exonerating a suspect who can’t remember is almost impossible, especially since Lonnie’s brother, Detective Rick Murphy, and Lonnie’s partner, Chief Detective Mike Kingston, have been taken off the case. Before everything comes crashing down on Lonnie like a heaping slice of coconut layer cake, it’ll be up to Hannah to rack up enough clues to toast a flaky killer . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496718891
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 02/25/2020
Series: Hannah Swensen Series , #25
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 788
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

JOANNE FLUKE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, Cinnamon Roll Murder, and the book that started it all, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. That first installment in the series premiered as Murder, She Baked:  A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in Southern California. Please visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Coconut Layer Cake Murder 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
diane92345 29 days ago
Hannah is stressed in the Coconut Layer Cake Murder. Her doctor, and stepfather, arranges for Hannah and her mother, Delores, to fly to Los Angeles. They are there to help Hannah’s college friend, Lynn, move back to her hometown, Lake Eden Minnesota. While in California, Hannah’s sister’s boyfriend, Lonnie, is named the primary suspect in a murder. So, of course, Hannah must find the real killer. There are some yummy recipes including in this book. Here is the list. • Chocolate Peanut Butter Toffee • Minestrone Soup • Chocolate Cake in a Mug • Confetti Blizzard Whippersnapper Cookies • Corned Beef and Pepper Jack Quiche (which sounds delicious) • Butterscotch and Pretzel Cookies • Cinnamon and Raisin Snap Cookies • Chocolate Salami • Lemon-glazed Chicken Breasts • Mushroomy Rice • Mandarin Orange Bundt • Eggs Benedict • Chips Off the Old Block Cookies • Snowflakes and Ice Cookies • Pear and Apple Pie • Strawberries and Vanilla Pinwheel Cookies • Chocolate Cashew Marshmallow Bar Cookies • Coconut Layer Cake with its Coconut Lemon Frosting from the title With eighteen lengthy recipes, there isn’t much room for the actual mystery. Unfortunately, the lack of complexity shows. It is sad when a mystery series that you have enjoyed for literally years fizzles out. I’m sure I will read the next one anyway on the hopes that it will be better. Still, skipping the Coconut Layer Cake Murder won’t cause any readers to miss out and is probably a good idea unless one of the recipes listed above sound tasty. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 stars. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Avid_Reader_TC 29 days ago
Concerned when Hannah told Lynn that she loved Norman, but not the way he wanted her to.
Elizabeth Walsh 3 months ago
Great as always; can't wait for the next installment.
beachbumbookworm 3 months ago
I was so happy when I learned I was returning to Lake Eden! It is one of my favorite places to visit! No sooner then I got there Doc is prescribing a trip for Hannah (get it...prescribing...because he is a doctor). Per Doc's orders we were off to California with Hannah’s mom Delores. Hannah’s college roommate and friend Lynne is moving to Lake Eden after her divorce, and we are going to help her with the transition. However Hannah’s trip (and mine) is cut short when her sister Michelle calls her frantic. Michelle's boyfriend and Lake Eden police officer Lonnie is the prime suspect in a murder. Upon the request from the Lake Eden police force Hannah is asked to investigate the murder. The other officers all have a conflict of interest in being involved in the case investigating one of their own. So of course Hannah and I immediately return to figure out what happened to Darcy and keep officer Lonnie out of the clinker. My thoughts: I rated this book 3 large cups of coffee...more like 3.5...if I can carry without burning myself. I am one of those people who have been very disappointed in the last few books. The writing and dialogue had some major issues, and the Ross issue….INFURIATING!! Hannah marrying….Ross...who??... are you kidding me??....we have been reading the NEVER-ENDING love triangle with Mike and Norman (#team Mike) for how many years...and now she chooses neither???...and so out of the blue??? To make matters even more infuriating and UNBELIEVABLE Mike and Norman stick around with no hard feelings. I was really glad the Ross situation was taken care of, but I REALLY wish this book didn’t jump right back into the love triangle fiasco. It was already drug out waaaaay too long, and as mentioned above at this point is really unrealistic. These two men are both still pining and trying to win Hannah after she picked someone else….and are the best of friends to boot...NO WAY...WOULD NOT HAPPEN!! I also thought the police force even in a small town like Lake Eden asking a citizen to investigate a crime (a murder no less) was silly. I get the conflict of interest....but come on….they would call in officers from another district to investigate. That all being said….….for lovers of this series who have been disgruntled.... This book felt much more like the older books that made this series amazing!! HOORRAAY!! The writing issues and dialogue (for the most part) seem to have straightened themselves out. The characters and setting now and have always been my favorite of any cozy series!! I am a sucker for a small town with lots of quirky lovable characters...and well with Delores, Michelle, Lisa, Doc, Andrea, The cookie jar, just to name a few...this series is packed with greatness!!! I enjoy the recipes and the notes that come along with them. They always sound delicious! The mystery was light and fun (just like a cozy should be)!! I would recommend anybody and...well.... everybody visit the cookie jar and get to know the residents of Lake Eden. While you're there….grab a cup of coffee...and try one of Hannah’s amazing cookies….there are so many to choose from. Although this book can be read by itself...start at the're in for a great time!! I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Netgalley, the author Joanne Fluke, and the publisher for this opportunity.
Emily Asbill 3 months ago
Great! Live the recipes too
Pattistep 4 days ago
This is another good book in this popular series. Hannah’s working on solving another perplexing mystery and there are several twists and turns until she confronts the killer. Things are happening in her personal life, too, and that adds extra interest to the story. As always, the recipes look so good. This story has a little bit of a different angle than some, and that made it interesting. Fans of this series will like this book. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Pattistep 4 days ago
This is another good book in this popular series. Hannah’s working on solving another perplexing mystery and there are several twists and turns until she confronts the killer. Things are happening in her personal life, too, and that adds extra interest to the story. As always, the recipes look so good. This story has a little bit of a different angle than some, and that made it interesting. Fans of this series will like this book. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
3900980 5 days ago
This is Book 25 of the Hannah Swensen Mystery series. For those who have not read all the books, especially the last two or three, please note there are spoilers in this review. Proceed with caution! This story finds Hannah, a recent widow, totally exhausted and drained from current events. Trying to put her life back together she and her mom fly to Los Angeles so she can assist a friend who is moving to Lake Eden. While soaking up the sun she receives a frantic call from her sister. Michelle’s boyfriend Detective Lonnie Murphy has been accused of a crime. In a town as small as Lake Eden where everybody knows everybody, and their police force being a small group, they all needed to recuse themselves from the case because they know Lonnie. So in steps Hannah and her investigating skills to save they day! Lonnie has been accused of murdering a woman in her home. He wakes up on her couch after spending the night prior at a bar drinking with some of his friends. The only problem is Lonnie can’t remember what happened the night before. He only remembers waking up and discovering her lifeless body in her bedroom, (with a coconut layer cake on the kitchen table). It’s all up to Hannah to try and piece the puzzle together alone (but with helpful clues and assistance from her friends). In the meantime, its seems the mystery of Ross, her late husband, continues to haunt her as she finds strange objects he owned and he kept hidden prior to his murder. The Hannah Swensen Mysteries are like visiting with an old friend you’ve known for a while but only see maybe once or twice a year. Always happy to see and hear from them, always greatful to catch up and see what’s been going on, always enjoyable, and they always come with delicious food suggestions you want to try.
Carstairs38 6 days ago
Hannah Swensen, owner of The Cookie Jar, has been ordered to rest – it came straight from Doc himself. But a trip to California to help a friend pack up is cut short when Hannah’s younger sister, Michelle, calls in a panic. There’s been another murder in Lake Eden, and Michelle’s boyfriend, Lonnie, is the prime suspect. After a night out with friends, Lonnie took a drunk woman home only to pass out on her couch. The next morning, he wakes up to find her dead in her bedroom with no memory of anything after he passed out. Since Lonnie is a detective with the police department, most of them can’t investigate since they are friends with the suspect. Naturally, Hannah immediately flies home, but can she figure out who is the killer? If you haven’t read the last few books, be aware this one spoils some pretty major things by necessity since they had a major impact on Hannah’s life. Those up to date on the series will be happy to learn we get an answer to the cliffhanger from the last book early on. This book is a return to the status quo of a few entries ago. After a slow start, the pacing gets better once Hannah returns home. There is still plenty of talk about cooking, however, but we get clues and red herrings until we reach the climax. The characters are all here, and I enjoyed seeing them, but there is little in the way of actual character development. That includes the love triangle, which is back in play here. We get another nineteen recipes, and I think I gained weight reading about them. They certainly sound delicious. Fans who have stuck with this series will enjoy this outing. If you are new, don’t jump in here but go back to the beginning to see why we love these characters.
Pottermom 7 days ago
Sweet in more ways than one. Predictable-but it's like meeting old friends.
campred 10 days ago
I've read all the series but this one they dialog is awkward and the plot really unrealistic
Kathleen Blair 12 days ago
I always enjoy the books by Joanne Fluke and this was not disappointing. I always look for her next edition to read.
carol matlock 13 days ago
Great to keep you wondering
SewWrite 14 days ago
Hannah Swensen is on vacation in California when she gets a frantic phone call from her sister Michelle. Michelle's boyfriend, Lonnie is involved in a murder and Michelle wants Hannah to come home and solve the case. Hannah teams up with her sisters and er friends to follow all of the clues to get Lonnie out of hot water and back to work. I must say I was able to figure out the killer pretty early on in the book. I didn't think the story had as many suspects as usual and everything took place over a short period of time. That being said, I will continue to read this long running series. The last four or five books have taken Hannah's life in some new directions and I'm enjoying watching how she is growing as a character and her life is evolving around the changes.
PattySmith87 15 days ago
Many thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and Joanne Fluke for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review of Coconut Layer Cake Murder. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. Hannah is back with a whole new slew of recipes that she dreams up on the spot. But this time the town really needs her help. Instead of her “meddling”, they need her to solve the murder. There is a dead woman and Lonnie, one of the local police, has been accused of the murder. Mike has to take a back seat because of personal conflicts and there is no one else in the department to solve the murder. So Hannah flies back from her California vacation to gather the facts. All of the characters are part of the story like Norm, her sisters, and her mother. The coconut layer cake is at the center of the murder. Nothing new in the story. The same characters, the same saccharine-sweet banter along with the consumption of a lot of cookies. I am surprised everyone in that town isn’t 300 pounds with cholesterol problems! These characters are super supportive, super sweet and super into everyone’s business! Look, when you read this series you know what you’re getting. I just wish there was more mystery, even in the light-as-air genre, something would be nice. Hannah talks to everyone, creating recipes as she goes and then in the last ten pages boom, it is solved. I haven’t given up on the series yet, so there’s that. Sometimes you want the comfort of what you know and can enjoy it for what it is!
Floyd Johnson 18 days ago
A Hannah Swensen Mystery 1 Simple Cozy Mystery 25 Assorted Tasty Recipes 5-6 Good Friends Mix together for about 5-1/2 hours until 350 pages in length. Be sure to skip at least two nights of good sleep till done. When completed, you will have one fun book, ready to recommend eagerly to other readers. ================================================ That is how it seemed this Joanne Fluke book was put together. The cozy mystery centers on a young man who takes a friend home after dinner; but when the morning arrives, she is dead and he is charged with murder. The police have found their suspect; Hannah Swensen and her friends are not so sure. They will spend the next week searching for clues and putting together a puzzle that will lead to the guilty party. The mystery is not as involved as most cozy mysteries that cross my desk, but it is fun. And when it is wrapped with two dozen appetizing recipes (appetizers, soups, entrees, and a lot of deserts) the reader has a great book. My favorite recipes included Meaty Minestrone Soup, Lemon Glazed Chicken Breasts, and Peach Cake (though my favorite dessert was hard to choose - though my doctor would not me touch any of them). A gentle read - full of fun food. Enjoy your evening. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Teri1957 21 days ago
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I've read this series from the very first book and I truly believe each one gets better than the last. I feel like I'm part of the Lake Eden community when I sit down to read; coming home to visit friends and family and, of course, help solve a murder! These books are extremely well written with fabulous characters. I highly recommend this book to everyone! Enjoy!
Anonymous 22 days ago
Coconut Layer Cake Murder is the 25th installment to the Hannah Swensen series. It’s a series I have followed for a long time that my love for the characters and their town has grown immensely. This book follows Hannah bound for California to help her friend and to have a nice vacation with her mom. However, her vacation is cut short with another murder in Lake Eden, where Lonnie Murphy, her youngest sister’s boyfriend, is suspected as the culprit. Hannah takes on the case to investigate and help to prove Lonnie’s innocence. However, this time is proven to be more difficult as Lonnie has no recollection of what happened during that fateful night. Plus, Lonnie’s brother and partner in the department are taken off the case. I enjoyed reading this book. I loved it for its rich characters and small town set-up. It was fascinating to me how realistic Lake Eden could be, from where everyone knows everybody’s business to mentions of ordinary places like the local grocery store. Though the pattern could be same as the other books, my reading experience was not blighted. I came in knowing this. What did not quite go well with me was that I got to determine the culprit right away without having any doubts or having anyone else in mind. I was also looking for more baking sessions with Hannah on The Cookie Jar while discussing investigations with others. I think it's one of the best points of the previous books. I’m rating it with 3 stars. I might recommend it to other readers, but not as much as I would relative to other books in the series. Joanne’s Hannah Swensen Series is something I’d absolutely recommend as a whole rather than a standalone. Nevertheless, I would still wait eagerly for the next adventures of Hannah. Many thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts here are my own.
Elaine S. Landry 25 days ago
enjoyable aLWAYS
LulusReviews 25 days ago
Not my favorite Hannah Swensen novel - the recipes looked great however. The story was choppy, the character development was incomplete and for me, the ending was ho hum. One bad egg doesn't spoil the dozen, so I'll look forward to continuing to read more Joanne Fluke novels. Thanks to #NetGalley for the opportunity to preview #coconutlayercakemurder
KWeldon 26 days ago
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I voluntarily reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. Hannah Swenson is back in Coconut Layer Cake Murder (#25). Hannah and her mother visit California to help a friend who is moving back to Lake Eden.  Within a few days Hannah receives a call from her sister telling her to she needs to come home to help Lonnie.  Lonnie is a family friend and police officer in Lake Eden.  He is the prime suspect in a murder and everyone wants Hannah to help solve the case because most of the police officers are not allowed to investigate.  Hannah hurries home and starts her investigation.  How could Lonnie be caught up in a murder case?  Who would want Darcy dead?  It's up to Hannah, her family, and friends to help the police department solve the case. This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. Joanne Fluke creates an atmosphere of close family and friends in a small community in Minnesota. As always, there are a lot of recipes with little tips and shortcuts. It's always nice to see what's going on in Lake Eden and I look forward to book #26. Thank you to Kensington Publishing for gifting me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Mystery & Thrillers Publication Date: February 25, 2020
JuliW 26 days ago
I have been reading the Hannah Swensen series ever since the first book, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, came out in 2000! I love the setting, the characters, the recipes, and the light mysteries. Each time a new book comes out, I nab it as quickly as possible and binge read it to find out what's going on in good ol' Lake Eden, MN. Coconut Layer Cake Murder is the 25th book in the series. I happily curled up with this newest book, a cup of tea and my chihuahua for a long night of happy reading. The last book ended on a bit of a cliff hanger of sorts and I just HAD to find out what was going on..... I waited an entire year to find out! :) I enjoyed this newest book. About 3 books ago, there were some major writing problems with this series, but it's HANNAH....I can't do without my Hannah-fix each year. The writing seems to have smoothed itself out for the most part, as have some plot developments that left long-time Hannah fans upset (the evil R...boooo hisssss). But, I still see differences in these later books when compared to earlier books in the series. The mystery portion of the plot is much lighter, and the recipes are much longer (instead of just recipes and cooking instructions, they include cute comments from story characters and other things. And each one can be 3 pages long or more). After reading a series this long, I'm ok with the books being shorter, but it does make me think that the series might be winding down. Maybe when Hannah finally makes The Decision, the series will have a final book? I read through this entire book in less than 2 hours....I'm a fast reader, but a lot of this book is recipes. I'm ok with that -- some of them really sound YUMMY this time! I'm going to do a bit of experimenting and see if I can't change over some of the cookie recipes to a diabetic version my hubby can enjoy. :) There are several savory recipes as well -- a mushroom rice dish as well as other non-dessert goodies. All in all, a fun entertaining read as usual. I'm definitely in line for my next visit with my book friends from Lake Eden! And maybe......The Decision???? It's been 20 years....we need The Decision.ha ha Full stars from me..... 'cause it's Hannah. :) **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
bookaholique 27 days ago
Wow - I cannot believe we are on book #25 of this series. I still remember reading book #1 and how much fun it was. I will admit to enjoying some of the stories better than others, but that is pretty typical for a series that has been around this long. As someone who has been on team Norman from the very beginning, I do wish the author would do something with this part of the storyline. The murder solving aspect has always been entertaining and is part of why I continue to read these books. It just feels like it is time to move on from the Norman versus Mike aspect, as this has been an integral part of the series for so long. That being said, I know I will continue to look forward to each new installment. I am just not able to stay away from finding out what Hannah is up to next. My thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for this ARC.
Marsha Beetham 28 days ago
I very much enjoyed this book, it kept me intrigued & what a surprise about her husband. I would like her to be joined with Norman & continue to solve mysteries together.
Anonymous 28 days ago
I don't know why I keep reading this series, because each is more disappointing than the one before. This one has 24 multi-page recipes that take up a lot of pages in the 332 page book, so the story part isn't very long. The characters all use very stilted language which is very unrealistic and "Norman is wonderful but I don't love him in 'that' way" thing is getting very old. The weird dreams add nothing to the story, and the "Hannah has to solve the murder because most of the police have conflicts" thing is mind-boggling. I gave it 2 stars only because it helped me get through a very cold afternoon and was a diversion from politics, FB hate. and Covid-19.