Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #4)

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #4)

by Joanne Fluke

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The residents of Lake Eden, Minnesota, are planning to paint the town red, white, and blue to celebrate the Fourth of July—but the fireworks are already going off at Hannah Swensen’s bake shop, The Cookie Jar. . .

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Hannah Swensen thought she’d finally discovered the recipe for a perfect life. But her sometime beau Norman Rhodes tosses a surprise ingredient into the mix when he phones to tell her he’s just bought a house from local drugstore clerk Rhonda Scharf—which he plans to tear down in order to build the dream home he and Hannah designed. It seems the plan has been cooking for quite some time, and Hannah’s shocked. Especially since her ring finger is still very much bare. . .

The good news is that the soon-to-be-torn-down house is full of antiques—and Norman has given Hannah and her mother first dibs. They uncover some gorgeous old furniture, a patchwork quilt . . . and Rhonda Scharf’s dead body. A little more sleuthing turns up the half-eaten remains of a very special dinner for two—and one of The Cookie Jar’s famous lemon meringue pies. Now it’s up to Hannah to turn up the heat—and get busy tracking down clues. Starting in her very own kitchen. 
Includes nine original cookie and dessert recipes for you to try!
“Tasty . . . Hannah is irresistible as a cookie fresh from the oven.”
Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617731273
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Series: Hannah Swensen Series , #4
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 27,556
File size: 2 MB

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 www.JoanneFluke.com.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hannah Swensen was startled awake at four forty-seven in the morning. Two feral eyes were staring down at her. She batted out at them and they vanished, leaving an accusatory yowl floating in their wake.

"This is my pillow, not yours!" Hannah muttered, retrieving it and settling it in, under her head. But before she could close her eyes for the few precious minutes of sleep that remained until her alarm clock blared, guilt set in. She'd never slapped out at Moishe before. Her orange and white tomcat had taken enough abuse while he was living on the streets. His left ear was torn and he was blind in one eye, a reminder of how he'd once fought to survive. In the time since Hannah had invited him in to share her condo, they'd become friends. Now that friendship was in jeopardy. If worse came to worst, Moishe might never trust her again.

"I'm sorry, Moishe. Come here and I'll scratch your ears." Hannah patted the sheets, hoping for feline forgiveness. "I'd never really hurt you. You should know that by now. You just scared me, that's all."

There was another yowl, a bit less irate this time, coming from the floor by the foot of her bed. Hannah patted the sheets again and she felt a thump as Moishe landed on the mattress. All was forgiven and that made her feel good, but now that she was wide awake, her neck began to twinge with a vengeance. Moishe must have commandeered her pillow shortly after she'd gone to bed and now she was paying the price of his comfort. The only cure for her sore neck would be a long hot shower before she went to work.

"Fine. I'm up," Hannah grumbled, reaching out to flick off her alarm. "I'11 get your breakfast. Then I'll shower."

Once she'd found her slippers, Hannah padded down the hallway to the kitchen. She flicked on the light and opened the window to catch any early morning breezes that might be lurking outside her condo complex, but only warm, muggy air greeted her. Lake Eden, Minnesota, was in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave, unusual weather for the tail end of June, and the nights were almost as hot as the days.

Moishe took up a position by his food bowl and gazed at her expectantly. His tail was flicking back and forth like a metronome, and Hannah wondered idly whether she could attach a fan and harness all that energy.

"Patience is a virtue," Hannah muttered, quoting her mother. Then she remembered that the admonition hadn't worked on her, either. "I'm getting your breakfast right now, even before my first cup of coffee. If that isn't an apology, I don't know what is!"

Moishe's tail continued swishing as Hannah went to the broom closet and opened the padlock she'd installed on the door. Some people might think that the padlock was overkill, but Moishe got insecure every time he could see a bare patch at the bottom of his food and he wasn't shy about helping himself from the mother lode. Tired of sweeping up spilled kitty crunchies, Hannah had attempted to secure her stock by several unsuccessful methods. Moishe had conquered a bungee cord, a new heavy-duty latch, and a hook-and-eye fastener. When her determined feline roommate wanted food, he turned into a regular Houdini. No lock could stop him for long.

Once Moishe was crunching contentedly, Hannah poured herself a cup of coffee and headed off to the shower. Today was Friday and it promised to be a busy day. Not only was Friday Pie Day at The Cookie Jar, Hannah's bakery and coffee shop, she had to fill an order for five batches of Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies. The order had come from a Minneapolis caterer and the cookies were for a wedding reception.

Hannah and her partner, Lisa Herman, had mixed up the cookie dough before they'd locked up the previous night. Hannah would bake the cookies and then the pies, Lemon Meringue this week, before Lisa came in at seven-thirty. It was Lisa's job to decorate the cookies with the initials of the bride and groom, "PP" for Pamela Pollack and "TH" for Toby Heller.

After a few minutes under the steaming spray, Hannah's neck pain had faded into a dull ache. Since the KCOW weatherman had predicted that today could be one of the hottest days of the summer, she decided to wear her lightest-weight slacks, the ones she'd chosen last summer on a rare shopping trip with her sister, Andrea. Hannah stepped into the slacks and struggled as she attempted to pull them up. Even with the zipper wide open, she couldn't get them past her hips. They hadn't been this tight when she'd tried them on in the dressing room!

Hannah eyed her straining slacks balefully. She'd gained weight, a lot of it. It was bad enough being the tallest one in her petite family and the only daughter who'd inherited her father's unruly red hair. Now she was also overweight. It was time to go on a diet whether she liked it or not.

Visions of an endless stream of salads with low-cal dressing danced through Hannah's head as she peeled off the slacks and rummaged in the closet for a pair with an elastic waistband. Jogging was out. She hated it and she didn't have the time anyway. Joining a gym wasn't possible, either. The nearest gym was out at the mall and she'd never drive out there to use it. As much as the prospect sickened, she'd just have to limit her intake of food. It was the only possible way for her to shed the weight she'd gained.

Hannah turned to glance at the bathroom scale. She knew it was only her imagination, but it looked coiled and ready, like a rattlesnake set to strike. She told herself the sensible thing would be to weigh herself now, to see how much she needed to lose. She even took a step toward the scale, but she stopped when her heart began to pound and her palms grew damp. When was the last time she'd stepped on the scale? It had to have been at least six months ago. Perhaps she should diet for a week and then weigh in. That way the shock wouldn't be so severe. At least coffee didn't have calories. She'd have another cup and decide later about when she should weigh herself.

The hands of her apple-shaped kitchen clock were approaching five-twenty by the time Hannah finished her third cup of coffee. She refilled Moishe's food bowl and poured the rest of her coffee into the car carrier Bill Todd, her brother-in-law, had given her two Christmases ago.

"'Bye, Moishe. Be good while I'm gone," Hannah said, giving him a scratch under the chin and then slinging her saddlebag-sized purse over her shoulder. "I may be condemned to lettuce for supper, but I promise that you'll get a big bowl of…"

Hannah broke off in mid-sentence as the kitchen wall phone rang. It had to be her mother. No one but Delores would call her this early. For a fleeting second, Hannah thought about letting the answer machine pick up, but her mother would just track her down later, perhaps at an even more inconvenient time. There was no sense in delaying the inevitable.

The phone pealed a second time and Moishe turned his back on it, sticking his haunches in the air and flicking his tail. Hannah laughed, amused at his antics. Delores was not one of Moishe's favorite people. She was still laughing as she grabbed the phone and answered, "Hello, Mother."

There was silence on the other end of the line and then Hannah heard a chuckle, a male chuckle. "I'm not your mother."

“Norman?" Hannah plopped her purse on the kitchen table and sat down in a chair. Norman Rhodes was one of her favorite people and she dated him occasionally. "What are you doing up this early?"

"I always get up this early. I wanted to catch you before you left. Hannah, I need a favor."

"What is it?" Hannah asked, smiling as she pictured Norman. She could hear water running and she knew he was making coffee in his mother's kitchen. Norman wasn't what most people would call handsome, but Hannah liked his looks. He had the kind of face people instinctively trusted.

"Will you reserve a big table at the rear of The Cookie Jar for me at nine-thirty this morning?"

"I can't," Hannah said with a grin.

"Why not?"

Hannah laughed outright. "Because I don't have any big tables. They're all the same size. How about if I push two together for you?"

"That'd be fine. I've got some exciting news, Hannah."

"Really?" Hannah glanced up at the clock. She was running late, but that was all right. The pies wouldn't take long. She'd baked the crusts before she'd left work yesterday, and all she had to do was cook the filling and put on the meringue. She wanted to talk to Norman. She'd just work a little faster when she got to her cookie shop.

"I made an offer on a house and it's been accepted."

"You bought a house?" Hannah hadn't had an inkling that Norman was in the market for a house.

"That's right, and I want to sign the papers this morning before the seller changes her mind. I got a really good deal on the Voelker place."

Table of Contents


Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cookie Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., with rack in middle position.

(Another recipe with a no-roll crust--don't you just love it?)

2 cups flour (no need to sift)
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks, 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 beaten eggs (just whip them up with a fork)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup frozen concentrated pineapple juice
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple (if you have any left over, freeze it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons flour (that's 1/4 cup--don't bother to sift)

FIRST STEP: Dump pineapple in a strainer and let it drain while you do this step. Cream butter with sugar and add flour. Mix well. (You can also do this in a food processor with hard butter cut into chunks and the steel blade.) Spread mixture out in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan (that's a standard sheet cake pan), and press it down evenly with your hands.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven. (Don't turn off oven!)

SECOND STEP: Mix eggs with sugar. Add pineapple concentrate, drained pineapple, and mix. Add salt and baking powder and stir it all up. Then add flour and mix thoroughly. (This will be runny--it'll set in the oven.)

Pour this mixture on top of the pan you just baked and stick it back into the oven. Bake at 350 degrees E for another 45-50 minutes. Then remove from oven.

Let cool thoroughly, then sprinkle a little powdered sugar on the top and cut into brownie-sized bars.

(Herb Beeseman loves these--it was the least I could do for him. Mother and Carrie love them too, but they like a double serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Marge Beeseman has refused to taste them, probably because she thinks she makes the best Pine- apple Upside-Down Cake in the state of Minnesota and she doesn't relish any interference.)

Customer Reviews

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Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #4) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 178 reviews.
JC62JC More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I have read quite a few of the Joanne Fluke books and found this to be a very good one. I read this on my Nook and found it to be an entertaining and light story. This is a book that you can pick up and not lose the story line before finishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy reading --rather like being a part of the little town as you become acquainted with the characters in the m,urder series. I have enjoyed the first five in the series. I live in a small town so understand how people know everyone's business before it happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all the Hannah Swensen (I have read so far)series. They are easy reads and the recipes are good too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining.
nancydrew123 More than 1 year ago
In the fourth book in this series Hannah Swensen discovers a dead body in the home of her part-time boyfriend Norman's new house. Worse than the dead body is the fact that Hannah's Lemon Meringue pies are found on the table right above the body. This is another fun read that draws you into the world of Lake Eden, Minnesota. In this book we meet Hannah's hilarious younger sister Michelle. Hannah's mother is as nagging as ever but still likeable.... maybe some of us can relate! The mystery was a little slow to start in the beginning but started to move right along as the book progressed. I'm getting a little frustrated with her continuing struggle between Mike and Norman but in the end it's always a delight to spend a little bit of time in Lake Eden.
HoneyPot More than 1 year ago
I have just recently started reading her books, I do like them, but they are becoming very familiar and easy to predict. For the past two I have read I know who the killer as soon as they are introduced in the story. Like to have an easy read while school is in, but would still like a little mystery to remain.
bremmd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My husband jokes about the various mystery series I read and the professions of the solvers of said mysteries. He loves to pick some far fetched job or hobby and then have them solve the crime. Topiary sculptor or glass blower, teapot collector or professional sock darner you name it they solve crimes. I myself am perfectly okay with this. But then I do have a remarkable ability to really suspend disbelief. So it all works out.I'm just fine with Hannah Swensen being a baker who just happens to solve murders. I'm good with the idea the police in her town can't seem to solve any of these murders without her input. I'm alright with the fact Hannah stumbles on dead bodies more often than most people come across litter. This series works for me and I do enjoy most the characters.Hannah's mom discovers a body in the basement of a house recently purchased by one of Hannah's love interests, Norman. (See she didn't stumble on the body this time so it works) In no time Hannah is investigating the murder and even has the okay of her other love interest, Mike, a detective in the local police. There's also a sub plot of stolen money and a local boy being led astray my his cousin and all of this takes place during 4th of July festivities.I had a hard time sticking with this story. It moved just a little slow for me and it wasn't to hard to figure out who and why the murder was committed. The side stories of Hannah's diet and her little sisters visit didn't really move the story along (though I did like the character of the little sister). There were also time where Hannah came across as a little prudish or behind the times which just struck me as odd.None of this turned me off to the series and I'm sure I'll keep plugging away. Plus, there are some really good recipes throughout and I love a good cookie recipe.
pacey1927 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I mentioned in my earlier review of "Blueberry Muffin Murder" readers shouldn't expect a deep involved mystery from Joanne Fluke. These books definately run in the 'cozy' category. My 6th grade step-daughter reads and enjoys them, as well. In my opinon each of the four novels have gotten progressively more interesting. (I seem to read them each a little quicker than the previos volume as well!) This volume finds Hannah involved in the murder of one of the town's residents. She also finds out about an old bank robbery, and some suspicious activity involving a local mentally handicapped man. How do these relate, if at all, Hannah wonders. By now, residents of Lake Eden are used to Hannah involving herself in murder investigations despite the lack of encouragement from local law enforcement. As a side note, things seem to be coming to a head in Hannah's love triange with handsome policeman Mike, and fun and earnest dentist Norman. Readers know all these characters now, and probably everyone has their favorites. We enjoy Hannah's attitude and delight in the antics of her sisters, mother and niece. There are flaws here, hence my three star rating. Readers obviously have to suspend reality when reading Fluke's novels. Medical information is quickly given to parties it shouldn't be. Everyone seems to run their mouths and volunteer information. Hannah has yet to meet someone who kicks her to the curb for questioning them. I guess the clues and information come across a little too conveniently. Still the entertainment value here is high. This is a fun series to hook yourself on. If you question whether or not to buy it, especially if you haven't tried a Hannah mystery before, borrow it from the library or buy it here used cheaply.
miamismartgirl09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the 4th book in the Hannah Swenson, this time a previous owner of a home that Hannah's boyfriend, Norman Rhodes, the town dentist, is found dead in the basement of the home!Hannah needs to solve this murder in time for Norman to start tearing down and then building up their dream home!Anoter delightful read
sunfi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fourth Hannah Swenson cozy mystery. This introduced a couple new characters, but not so many that you wouldn't keep the story lines straight. While these books are entertaining, they won't make you brilliant. However I do think they will help deductive/inductive reasoning.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Hannah's mom finds the body this time around, and the victim was about to leave town on a trip. Why kill her now? The mystery was a little obvious, but the book was still fun.
ryanphoffmann88 More than 1 year ago
Fourth book and the series just keeps getting better and better. its summer in Lake Eden and the Fourth of July picnic and parade is just around the corner. Hannah Swensen, our heroine is up to her old tricks in this whodunit. Her occasional boyfriend, Norman Rhodes bought a house in town and plans on remodeling it to fit his "dream house". Hannah shows up to find the owner dead and the remnants of a romantic dinner for two (including a half eaten lemon meringue pie form Hannah's Bakery). this is one of the key things that make this mystery show entraining. at every crime scene including this book. one of Hannah's deserts is always found at the crime scene. the newest chanter added was Hannah's youngest sister, Michelle (home form college). This rest of the story and characters where pretty entertaining, and I like the small town environment, since spending my early years growing up in a small town. there was only one issue wrere a character was referred to as the "r" word, due to being slow, shy, and dimwitted. otter that that I enjoyed this book very well. the books don't have sex in them and the crime scene isn't gruesome, or if it's it is in an way it isn't described in detail. the last thing is that there is no profanity in the books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need some love and a hot c.ock. My pu.ssy is wet for you. Rp to Willow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another winner. Very enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE the Joanne Fluke books. They are easy reads and the recipes are fantastic. Taught me a whole new way to bake. LOVE IT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was another wonderful, easy, breezy read! Have bought the next one!
Honney1944 More than 1 year ago
Fluke's books keep you interested in what going to happen next not only with the case but with the characters from book to book, it is good to read them in order but required.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The series is great, but be prepared to do a lot of cooking. The receipes are just great and so is the mystery with each book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the main charecter group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
marcy818 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy reading the Hannah Swenson series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a0157818 More than 1 year ago
Fun and humorous, as usual for Johanne. :) A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago