Life in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, is usually pleasantly uneventful. But with the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident, Hannah Swensen hardly has time to think about her bakerylet alone the town's most recent murder. . .
Hannah is eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gaveland Hannah is the number one suspect. Now on trial in the court of public opinion, she sets out in search of the culprit and discovers that the judge made more than a few enemies during his career. With time running out, Hannah will have to whip up her most clever recipe yet to find a killer more elusive than the perfect brownie. . .
Features over a dozen Cookie and Dessert Recipes from The Cookie Jar!
About the Author
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 and readers are welcome to contact her at the following e-mail address, Gr8Clues@JoanneFluke.com, or by visiting her website at www.JoanneFluke.com.
Read an Excerpt
Double Fudge Brownie Murder
By JOANNE FLUKE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 H.L. Swensen, Inc.
All rights reserved.
It was a brisk September morning and to say that Hannah Swensen was excited would be the understatement of the year. Not even the specter of her upcoming trial for vehicular homicide, which had been postponed again last week, could dampen her spirits.
"Don't worry, Moishe," Hannah told the orange and white cat who was staring at her from the top of her dresser. "I'm only going to be gone for three days and Norman should be here to pick you up any minute now. You're going to stay with Norman and Cuddles while I'm gone."
Hannah smiled as she slipped off her robe and dressed in her stylish, new, forest green pantsuit. Some people claimed that cats didn't understand when you spoke to them, but Moishe always reacted with an excited yowl whenever she said Cuddles. Norman's cat was Moishe's favorite friend. Hannah admitted that she might be anthropomorphizing, but she was convinced that Moishe loved Cuddles every bit as much as her mother loved Doc Knight.
Hannah slipped on her shoes and walked to the foot of the bed. Her suitcase was open on top of the bedspread and she checked the contents again. Claire Rodgers Knudson, the owner of Beau Monde Fashions, the upscale dress shop right next to The Cookie Jar on Main Street, had chosen what she called a mini trousseau for each of the three Swensen sisters. It was a gift from Doc Knight, their mother's groom-to-be. Of course, Delores had her own, much larger bridal trousseau, which was currently stashed in the trunk of one of Cyril Murphy's Shamrock Limousines, waiting for the wedding surprise that Doc and Delores's daughters had planned for her.
At first, all three Swensen sisters had been reluctant to accept Doc's lovely and expensive gifts. Such largesse was highly unusual in Lake Eden, Minnesota. There were a couple of rich families in town, but most people worked hard for their money and didn't have any excess to spend on luxuries. Hannah, Andrea, and Michelle fell into that latter group.
It had taken Doc a week, but he had convinced them to accept his generous gifts. He'd reminded them that presents for members of the wedding party were traditional, and with the exception of Doc's best man, Hannah, Andrea, and Michelle comprised the whole wedding party. He'd also stated that the lovely mini trousseaus were doubling as thank you gifts for helping him implement his wedding surprise for their mother. With that said, Doc had led them into Claire's shop and turned them over to her.
The Swensen sisters didn't shop in Claire's designer boutique very often. All three were on a budget. Hannah's bakery and coffee shop made enough money for her to live a comfortable life, but designer clothing was low on her list of priorities. Andrea, the middle Swensen sister, loved to wear designer things, but most of her commissions as a part-time real estate agent went into a college fund for her two daughters. Andrea's husband also worked. Bill was the Winnetka County sheriff, but most of his salary went toward the family's living expenses. Michelle, the youngest Swensen sister, was in college at Macalester and everything she earned from working part-time was spent on tuition, books, and living expenses.
Hannah reached out to touch the gorgeous sapphire blue dress that she would wear to her mother's wedding. Andrea and Michelle had identically styled dresses, but they were in gradiated shades of blue. Hannah's was the most vivid and the sapphire blue looked wonderful with her red hair. Michelle's dress was a lighter shade that brought out the red and gold highlights in her brown hair. Andrea's dress was the palest, an ice blue that was worthy of a winter princess. With her light blond hair worn up in a twist and secured with a rhinestone-studded comb, she looked positively regal.
Tonight, Delores would marry Doc Knight in the Little Chapel of the Orchids in Las Vegas with only Doc's best man and Delores's three daughters in attendance. The bride-to-be had no idea that Doc had planned a surprise elopement when he'd invited her to a special board member breakfast at the hospital. The breakfast had been Andrea's idea to make certain that Delores wouldn't wear her Rainbow Lady volunteer jacket and slacks.
When Delores arrived at the hospital, Doc would whisk her away in a waiting limousine that would take them to the airport. Doc had hired a second limousine to take Michelle, Andrea, and Hannah to the airport, and once they'd arrived, they would be escorted to the plane where Doc had somehow arranged for all five of them to be served a champagne breakfast.
Delores had no idea that any of this was going to happen. Hannah knew that Doc had surprised Delores several times in the past with impromptu dinner parties and gifts she hadn't expected. So far, Delores had loved his surprises. But this surprise was the biggest one of all!
Hannah readily admitted that she was a bit nervous about the whole scenario that would play out today. When her mother discovered that Doc and all three of her daughters were co-conspirators in this elopement, one of two things would happen. Either Delores would be so angry at all of them that she'd refuse to marry Doc or she'd be delighted with Doc's romantic spontaneity and grateful that they'd all helped him with her surprise.
Hannah was betting on the latter for several reasons. The most important was that Delores loved Doc totally and irrevocably. If he wanted to sweep her off her feet and elope with her, she would not hesitate. The odds in Hannah's mind tallied at ninety to ten, perhaps even steeper than that. But there was the slim chance that Hannah's mother would balk at the way that Doc had chosen to take the planning of their wedding away from her.
"That's not going to happen!" Hannah said aloud, as if by voicing that opinion, she could assure its validity. She was almost positive that Delores would go with Doc to the ends of the earth. Seeing the two of them together made Hannah long for the same kind of total consuming love. In retrospect, she knew it was the reason she hadn't accepted either Norman's or Mike's proposal. She loved both of them, but it wasn't the heart-pounding, can't-live-without-you kind of love she craved. Just once in her life she wanted to be swept off her feet by the perfect man on the perfect night with perfect love.
Did she want too much? Was there such a thing as perfect love? By refusing to settle for something less was she depriving herself of a fulfilling life?
A knock on her door pulled Hannah from her contemplative mood. She shut her suitcase, hurried from the bedroom with Moishe at her heels, and arrived at the door slightly breathless. "Hi, Norman," she said, pulling open the door.
"You didn't look through the peephole, Hannah," Norman chided her gently as he came in.
Hannah laughed. "At eight-thirty in the morning? Besides, you said you were coming at eight-thirty and you're never late."
"Okay." Norman looked a little sheepish. "I might have overreacted, but I wish you'd remember to use the peephole. I could have been someone you didn't want to see."
"Never!" Hannah reached out to give him a hug. "You couldn't possibly be someone I didn't want to see. Not as long as you're you, Norman. I always want to see you!"
Norman hugged her back and Hannah knew she'd said the right thing. And he did have a point. She really ought to get into the habit of looking through the peephole before she opened the door.
"Hello, Big Guy." Norman bent down to pet Moishe. "Cuddles is at my house waiting for you. I hope you're ready to play all day and sleep all night."
Moishe looked up at him for a second and then he walked over to his Kitty Kastle. He jumped up to the perch and jumped down again with a toy mouse in his mouth.
"You want to take that with you?" Norman threw it down the hallway once and let Moishe retrieve it. "Okay," Norman picked up the mouse. "I'm putting it in my pocket for you. I'll give it to you the minute we get to my house ... okay?"
Hannah watched the interaction between cat and man with some amusement. Norman really did get along wonderfully with Moishe. Of course Mike did, too. Both of the men in her life liked her cat. And he liked both of them. Moishe hadn't helped her at all in any permanent decision making. He liked everyone ... except Delores. And since falling in love with Doc Knight had mellowed Delores, Moishe had become much more tolerant of her.
"Do you want me to carry out your suitcase?" Norman asked her.
"Thanks, but no. Doc said the limo driver would come up to get the luggage and load it. Wheeling it out right now might upset Moishe."
"You're probably right. I just didn't want you to have to do it yourself." Norman took Moishe's harness and leash from the hook by the door and held it out. "Come on, Moishe. It's time to go and see Cuddles."
Hannah watched while Norman harnessed her pet. Moishe had always objected to getting into a cat carrier, but he loved to wear his harness. That was probably because he didn't like to be confined and preferred to roam around in the back seat of Norman's car or in the back of her cookie truck.
Norman hooked the leash to Moishe's harness and stood up. "Have a great time, Hannah. And don't let wedding fever get the best of you ... at least not until you get back here."
"Don't worry. I won't." Hannah smiled at him. "And I won't let gambling fever get the best of me, either. I'm only taking along the money that I can afford to lose. And that's not much!"
"Do you need to borrow some from me?"
"No thanks. This way I'm not tempted. And to tell the truth, I'm really not tempted, anyway. It's just something to do while I'm there."
"I've got something else for you to do while you're there." Norman pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to her. "These are for you."
Hannah opened the envelope and pulled out a sheaf of papers. "These are ... show tickets!"
"That's right. Three tickets to Cirque Du Soleil, three tickets to the Beatles Retrospective, and three tickets to the New Irish Show Band."
"How wonderful!" Hannah threw her arms around his neck and hugged him hard. "This is so nice of you, Norman. Michelle's been talking about Cirque Du Soleil for practically forever and Andrea just loves the Beatles. And I read about the New Irish Show Band in Sunday's paper. The dancing is supposed to be fantastic."
"That's what gave me the idea. I called the paper and found out that they had a special deal if you went through the Las Vegas visitor's bureau to order the tickets." Norman looked down at Moishe, who was trying to pull him toward the door. "I think he's anxious to go and see Cuddles."
"I know he is. When I said her name this morning, he gave me the most pitiful, yearning yowl I've ever heard."
"Just like I do when I think about you." Norman reached out to hug her again. "Have a good time, Hannah. And don't worry about a thing back here. I'll keep an eye on your place and I'll make sure that Moishe has a good time while you're gone."
Hannah had just pulled her rolling suitcase into the living room when there was another knock on her door. She gave a quick look through the peephole, thinking that perhaps Norman was back for something he'd forgotten, and gave a little gasp when she saw who was standing there.
"Hannah," Mike greeted her when she opened the door. "Good for you!"
"I'm glad you looked to see who was there before you opened the door. We'd have less crime if everyone would do that."
Hannah sent a silent thank you to Norman for reminding her and ushered Mike in. "Did you come to say goodbye?"
"That and something else." Mike pulled her into his arms and hugged her. "I got something for you to take with you. I know you've never flown before, so I brought you a good luck charm."
Hannah accepted the bag Mike handed her and opened the top a bit gingerly. She didn't really think that it was a foot from a roadkill rabbit, but you could never tell with Mike.
"Do you like it?" Mike asked, grinning widely.
"It's ... beautiful," Hannah answered quite truthfully, staring down at the pendant inside the little jewelry box.
"It's a four-leaf clover encased in silver, and it's on a silver chain. They had silver rabbits' feet and little horseshoes, and lots of stuff like that, but I thought this would be better. So did Sharon. She said it would be perfect for you."
"She's the woman who works at the jewelry shop. The minute she said it, I knew she was right. Four-leaf clovers are harder to find than rabbits' feet or horseshoes. And Sharon personally guaranteed that there's a real four-leaf clover under that silver."
"Well, I'm not about to break it apart to find out!" Hannah slipped it on over her head and touched it gently with her fingertips. "Thanks, Mike. It's really beautiful."
"She said you'd say that. She told me she wanted one the minute she saw the display."
Hannah wasn't about to ask if Mike had gotten one for Sharon, too. She really didn't want to know. Mike was a flirt, pure and simple, and even though he wasn't Irish, he had an even bigger helping of Irish blarney than Cyril Murphy did!
"I didn't," Mike said.
"You didn't what?"
"I didn't buy one for Sharon."
Hannah frowned slightly. "I didn't ask you if you had."
"I know, but you were thinking about asking. I heard you loud and clear. This is just for you, Hannah. It's special because you're special."
Hannah didn't say anything. She just hugged him. Mike could be really sweet when he wasn't playing his officious cop role. She was wondering if she should thank him again, she really did love the silver clover, when there was a knock at her door.
"I'll get it," Mike said, pulling the door open without looking through the peephole.
Hannah had the urge to remind him that what was good for the goose was good for the gander, but she didn't when she saw Michelle's excited face.
"Hi, Mike," Michelle said, stepping in with her suitcase. "Are you all ready, Hannah?"
"I'm ready. Did you see Andrea on your way in?"
Mike, who was still standing by the open door, pointed toward the visitor's parking lot. "Bill just dropped her off and she's wheeling her suitcase down the walkway. And your limo just pulled in. The driver's parking out by the road."
"Great!" Hannah felt a hoard of nervous butterflies take flight in her stomach. She'd never been on a plane before and she wasn't quite sure what to expect. There was something about being up in the clouds with nothing but air beneath her that was terrifying, but the thought was also exhilarating.
"I'll carry your suitcases down for you."
"But the limo driver will come to get them," Hannah said.
"That's okay. I'll do it." Mike grabbed both suitcases and started down the stairs. "Hannah?"
"Make sure you double lock your door."
"But the deadbolt doesn't fit right."
"It'll work if you lift up on the doorknob. Just do it, Hannah. It's important."
Hannah sighed. "All right, Mike. I'll do it."
"All cops are alike," Michelle grumbled just as soon as Mike was out of earshot. "I'll help you, Hannah. I've double locked your door before and it's a two-person job."
Hannah inserted her key and Michelle lifted up on the doorknob so that Hannah could throw the deadbolt that wasn't quite lined up correctly. It took three tries, but the bolt finally slid home.
"Mike always tells me to double lock the door," Hannah said with a sigh, dropping her keys into her purse, picking up her large carry-on by one strap, and following Michelle down the stairs. "It's a royal pain to do and I don't really have anything for anyone to steal."
"I know, but Mike's a cop and they all say that. Lonnie told me to double lock my door when we left my place, and two of my roommates were still inside. I'll bet you five bucks that Bill reminded Andrea to double lock their door this morning."
Hannah laughed. "There's no way I'm going to take that bet, not when I'm sure you're right. People who work in law enforcement are very safety conscious."
"Oh, it's not that." Michelle turned around at the base of the stairs to smile at her older sister.
"No. Lonnie explained the whole thing to me this morning and it's not a matter of safety at all. It's just that they have to file a report for every theft that occurs, and they don't want to fill out all that paperwork."
Excerpted from Double Fudge Brownie Murder by JOANNE FLUKE. Copyright © 2015 H.L. Swensen, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This series is headed into a downward spiral. Time to finish it up....cut the strings. What use to be one of my fave cozies is now something of a shambles. The characters are now unlikable and annoying. I could barely get through this book and almost didn't. No more Hannah Swensen mysteries for me. Save your money on this disappointment. Plenty of other cozies out there that are top notch.
No spoiler alerts here, but love the new dynamics and how each additional book builds on the last and often references previous books in the series. My girlfriends and I love to chat about Hannah! A big draw to this series is the cleanness of the writing. My daughter and I have been reading this series for a while now and when she was a pre-teen I knew there was NOTHING inappropriate that she would stumble upon. Great book!
I am out of my mind excited. Don't want to spoil the surprise for fan's that haven't read Double Fudge Brownie Murder yet, but the surprise of what occurs in Hannah's personal life is something to celebrate. And don't "judge a book by it's cover". Knowing Ms. Fluke, the obvious sequel will be another shocker. I loved the way this one ended, but she isn't one to let sleeping dogs lie. I can't wait for the next book. And will she throw us yet another curve for the one following? After being a Hannah fan from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder on, I know Fluke never let's things get predictable. This one is a real roller coaster ride. I've loved every book in the series, but I think this is the best one ever. And the recipes are frosting on the cake! I made the double fudge brownies first, and they are to die for! Can't wait to try the others.
End the series. Enjoyed all but last two in series. Finding killer is secondary in this book. The killer is only revealed in last chapters as an afterthought . Author needs to end series
This was a boring disappointment for me. This will be the last for me.
I have really enjoyed this series and still enjoy the recipes. That said Hannah annoys me with her overly puritian behavior and having two men hanging onto her without commiting to either for years is ridiculous. Not to mention the author acts as if any sane or desirable man would be ok with essentially treading water in their life for years. Unbelievable. The story has spiraled into unrealistic drivel. The story gets worse with hannah coming off as niave and ignorant with her belief that everybody will remain best friends after her decision is announced.
I was very disappointed in this book!! I love this series but this storyline did not go over well with me!! Throwing Ross into the mix when he hasn't been in the picture for quite awhile just seems like you don't know where to go with the series!! Also Hanna's decision at the end very disappointing!!
This book ties up the loose ends the last book left, sure hope it it isn't the last!
Fudged Plot Doc has a surprise for Hannah’s mother Delores. He’s decided that they should elope to Vegas for their wedding with Hannah, Andrea, and Michelle along for the vacation. The only other addition to the party is Doc’s best man. It’s a wonderful vacation that gives Hannah the room to face what is coming. Because when Hannah returns to Lake Eden, it’s time for her trial for vehicular manslaughter. Despite the fact that her lawyer is still telling her that she has nothing to worry about, she can’t help but be nervous, especially when Judge Colfax asks for a pre-trial meeting. While waiting for that meeting, Hannah hears a thump from his chambers and goes in to find the judge dead next to one of her double fudge brownies. Since she was about to stand trial in his court, the police consider Hannah a suspect. Can she find the real killer and clear her name? This has long been a favorite series, but I must admit I was disappointed with this latest entry. Every so often, there is a book where the cooking overwhelms the mystery, and this is such a book. Add to that the trip to Vegas at the beginning, and you’ve got a book that moves more slowly than I would like. On the other hand, I love the characters, and I do enjoy spending time with them. There is some forward movement on the love triangle as well, which will please longtime fans. I definitely think it is going in the right direction. As always, the recipes will leave you drooling as you read. Longtime fans of the series will definitely want to read this book to find out what happens next to Hannah and company. However, if you are new to the series, don’t start here. There are better books to introduce you to these characters.
First let me say, I have read every book in the series and love them all. However, I was let down by this one. Ross?? Really? I can hardly remember him from past book, little lone thinking a love connection would come from years ago with Hannah and Ross. It has been to long! I loved the interaction with Mike,Norman and Hannah, I can see how some readers would want Hannah making a choice between the two, but throwing Ross in there out of no where? I'm sorry, this book was very hard to get through, my hopes were for Norman, was very see able ,Norman built Hannah a house, yes he was seeing the dr at one time, but she tricked him into it, Mike is the one I can see her not choosing because he's been the lady's man from the start.. Ross, there is not much of a back story for me to think he is like able enough. This book did nothing for me once he came into the picture, sorry story seemed rushed and dull. Maybe Ross can be killed off and Hannah can catch the killer with Norman.. I really hate saying this about one of my favorite authors, and I really hate seeing my favorite series come to a end, but when you are picking things out of the air, and it no longer sounds like your voice..its time to say goodbye. I don't know if that movie coming out, changed things for you, or if someone else started to ghost write..was not the Joanne Fluke I read.
as a murder mystery, it sucked - very weak plot..... as a romance story, major sucky... seriously! 3 proposals - give us all a break
Below average for Joanne Fluke. Too much Delores wedding. Not enough Mike and Norman. Ending disappointing. I feel I've been strung along
Another great Hannah mystery. But what a surprise ending!!
A very quick read, but it was a good story!
Verymuch let down by this installlment
I was so glad the vehicular manslaughter trial ended before it began--that was one time the author messed up. For anyone to be convicted of that, they either have to have some kind of "intent" to do harm, or have committed some other "crime"--like DWI--that contributed to the accident. People don't gon on trial for vehicular manslaughter for regular accidents. (Even if they committed some sort of other traffic violation that leads to accideent--it has to be major). That being said, I really expected it to end differently--that Hannah would discover some other fact, like the man was already dead when he was hit, thta would lead to an investigaton. Oh well, the death of the judge was unexpected, but Hannah doesn't seem to dig into it the way she usually does. Maybe because she has so much going on persnally. I am not liking the "romance" between Ross& Hannah. It is completely unrealistic; Hannah has been so slow in making any decisions on her love-life so far, & now she gets to the stage she does w. Ross in what really amounts to a couple of weeks (their past history is way too far back to really count). Plus, I truly want to see her end w/ Norman. The way she reacted when he was going to marry Dr Bev was truly the sign of her deep love for him; now it will seem more like petty jealousy if she ends with someone else. All the usual people who populate Hannah's world were in this book, and the story was sitty & fun, but I truly hope that the author re-thinks this romantic development. It isn't for the best! I like these stories too much, I don't want to lose interest because of the Ross-factor.
The romance between Hannah and Ross threw me at first, but now can't wait to read the next one and see how she handles that with Mike and Norman.
another great mystery for hannah swenson to "solve". also an old love interest comes back into her life. what does this mean for mike and norman? the plot thickens. joanne's stories have a lot of heart in them. they are not ' just' stories, the characters are 'real', at least she brings them to life. as you read you feel yourself drawn right into the story. you will have a hard time putting the book dowm, and when the last page is read, you wish for more!!
I loved this one!! Good recipes, suspense on the murderer, and romance all in one book. I love it!!
This is not the worst book in the series. For me that's the Devil's Food Murder book, but this comes close. The character's dialogue is immature and silly. . Their sides hurt from laughing so hard (per the author) at inane "witty" comments. The mystery is barely there. I'm glad the love triangle has been blow up; it was always unrealistic and ridiculous. Hannah is quite the femme fatale with so many men that want to marry her. It must be her prudish ways and lack of techno knowledge. Sometimes I think the author is still in the 1950s or thinks her readers are. One reviewer on another site compared these books to Nancy Drew mysteries; they seem aimed at the same age level. I've read all of the Hannah Swenson books, and I've seen a deterioration or maybe I'm just tired of the same old, same old.
Disappointing at best. The series has morphed from murder mystery to cookbook.
Hannah made a decision! Been wsiting for that for a while! ? cant wait to try recipes!
I've been a Hannah fan from the beginning and this one does not disappoint! Don't listen to the naysayers, this is definitely a worthy buy. Keep on the good work Mrs. Fluke, your books are always a treat.
I had this book completely figured out by the 4th chapter. Very disappointing. Do not waste your time or money.