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! Holiday orders are high, and Hannah's slated to provide dessert at the Reverend Knudsen's upcoming nuptials. She's busy as can be and loving it. 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. Larry thinks he's crazy like a fox with his wild business schemes, but this time, the entrepreneur may have bitten off more than he can chew. Rumor has it that Larry's in the red-an idea that takes a sinister turn when...
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Plum Pudding Murder
By JOANNE FLUKE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2009 Joanne Fluke
All rights reserved.
Lake Eden, Minnesota Ten Shopping Days Until Christmas
There were nights like tonight, right after he'd bet a bundle on the losing team, when Larry Jaeger wondered why he'd ever come back to this dinky little town. When it came to money matters, people around here were clueless. Swindling them out of their savings was no contest at all. He preferred an even playing field where he could outwit the investors he thought of as his adversaries. It was a game, after all, and the game was boring if your opponents were pushovers.
In an effort to even the odds he'd taken more risks than usual, but not a single one of the locals were suspicious, not even Mayor Bascomb, who prided himself on his business savvy. This was like counting the leaves on a three-leaf clover, and that wasn't his idea of fun. The thrill came from taking off with the money right before someone was about to catch on. These people weren't about to catch on.
And then there was Courtney, his biggest investor, his partner, and his fiancée. She owned fifty percent of the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot ... on paper.
Courtney had insisted on taking a room at the Lake Eden Inn, rather than staying with him in the double-wide trailer they called Elf Headquarters. She was afraid that people would talk because they weren't married. She was right. They would talk. But that wouldn't bother him. His concern was that Courtney was living separately, and that gave her time to think. It was much easier to keep tabs on her when they were together twenty-four seven. She had some surprisingly good business instincts, unlike some of the other girlfriends he'd had. Courtney might just have the smarts to compare the business he'd fabricated for her on paper to what was actually happening right here in Lake Eden Park. If she did that, she might discover the inconsistencies that no one else had noticed.
The customers were long gone and the last employee had left the lot at least ten minutes ago. He was completely alone and once Hannah came to pick up her check, he'd be alone for the rest of the night.
It was time to close up shop. He stepped out the back door of the trailer and walked to the pole that held the breaker box. It was cold tonight, now that the elves had turned off the standing heaters, and he shivered even though he was wearing a heavy sweater.
There were three switches inside the weather-proof box. The top one controlled the electricity for the buildings, tree tents, rides, and tall candy cane lampposts that illuminated the park. The second switch powered the bare bulbs that were strung in a crisscross pattern overhead. They were the night security lights and they kept the park dimly illuminated when the main lights were out. The third breaker controlled the electricity for Elf Headquarters, and that was permanently set in the on position. He'd told the electrician to rig it so that no misguided employee could cut the power to his television set in the middle of an important game.
The music was blaring as usual and it seemed even louder now that it wasn't tempered by noisy crowds and the squeals of children riding the attractions. His trailer wasn't soundproof, but he'd learned to tune out the noise when he was inside. Now that the park was empty, the continuous loop of Christmas carols seemed ear-splitting.
Silent Night was playing as he clicked on the overhead security lights. He'd learned his lesson the first night he'd spent in the park. Once the main lights were doused, it was impossible to see the second switch. He'd picked his way gingerly back to the trailer to get a flashlight to illuminate the second switch so that he could engage it.
Larry reached for the top switch as the music went into the chorus. "Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is ..."
He threw the switch and smiled. "Not bright. Not bright at all," he said, heading back to the lights and warmth of Elf Headquarters.
A big swallow from the brandy snifter on the coffee table made short work of his shivers. A second snifter took care of his icy toes and hands, and then he played channel roulette with the remote in an effort to find something interesting. He bypassed cooking shows, nature programs, reenactments of great moments in history, several movies with actors he didn't recognize, a performance by a symphony orchestra with a conductor he didn't recognize, and reruns of ten-year-old game shows. He finally concluded that there was nothing he really wanted to watch on any of his two hundred plus satellite channels. The only thing that was slightly better than nothing at all was a replay of the championship college basketball tournament that had taken place last year.
A few sips from a third snifter of brandy made it easier to pretend that he hadn't seen the game before. He watched a three-pointer sink in without even rippling the net, and then he looked up as car lights flashed outside his window.
Someone was parking on the street and it was probably Hannah and the dentist. No one else would come here this late. The sign on the gate announced that they were closed, but he'd left it unlocked so that she could come in.
An envelope with her check and receipt was waiting on the table next to the door. He was nothing if not prepared. He picked up the platter she'd used for her plum pudding and glanced down at the remaining crumbs. She'd be pleased to hear that everyone had loved it and agreed that it would be a big hit at the Crazy Elf Cookie Shop.
When the knock came on the door, he was ready. He pulled it open, but when he saw who was standing there, he began to frown. "What are you doing here? You're the last person I expected to see!"
"I will be the last person you'll see." The words were clipped with anger. "It's what you deserve for what you've done."
"What do you mean?" His frown deepened and he stepped back in an effort to avoid a confrontation. It was clear that this was not a friendly social visit.
His uninvited guest stepped in, shut the door, and took another step forward, forcing him to back up even further. "What do you want?" he asked.
The answer to his question came in tangible form. When he saw the gun, he backed up several more steps and dropped the platter with a crash. His hands shot up in a futile effort to protect himself.
"No! You can't ..." were the last words he spoke.CHAPTER 2
One Day Earlier
That horrid gingerbread man was poking her in the eye again! Hannah Swensen reared back to avoid the rounded tip of a well-spiced arm and the rickety step stool she kept at The Cookie Jar began to teeter on two legs. The instant before toppling was a certainty, she managed to grab a sturdy branch that was decorated with five colored lights, a chocolate chip cookie ornament, and a plastic sprig of holly. The branch held, the step stool stabilized, and what she'd feared would be a painful tumble to the floor below was averted.
"That's enough, I'm done," Hannah said to no one in particular since she was the sole occupant of her coffee shop and bakery. It was four-fifteen in the afternoon, and she'd taken advantage of the predictable lull that occurred this time of day. It was too late for most customers to come in for a mid-afternoon snack cookie and too early to pick up the boxes of cookies that had been ordered for evening parties and holiday buffets. Since her partner, Lisa Herman, had offered to make their daily cookie deliveries, Hannah had volunteered to finish decorating the Christmas tree in the front window of their shop.
It was time to admire her handiwork and have a cup of the coffee the Lake Eden Journal had called the best in the tri-county area. Hannah poured a cup and sat down at her favorite table at the back of the shop. As she sipped, she gazed out the front window at a scene that was straight from the front of a Christmas card. Lacy flakes of snow fell outside the glass, gently fluttering down to rest on the pristine white blanket that covered the sidewalk. The tree looked lovely, and Hannah gave a contented smile. It was the second week in December, and night came early in the North Star State. Thanks to the winter solstice, this was the time of the year when people drove to work in the dark, worked all day with only a glimpse of the sun from their office windows, and left work after sunset to drive back home in the dark.
A Minnesota winter could be long and claustrophobic, causing bouts of cabin fever that sent snowbirds, the people who packed up their RVs at the first sign of snow, on their annual migration to more hospitable places like Florida or California. Those who couldn't leave for the entire winter but needed a break from the unrelenting cold, purchased vacation packages and spent a rejuvenating week basking in the sun in Hawaii, or St. Thomas, or the Bahamas. They came back with suntans that were the envy of those who stayed behind in the land of snow shovels, ski masks, and chemical hand warmers.
The Lake Eden residents who stuck it out had months to perfect their survival skills. A Minnesota winter could start as early as October and last all the way through April. In the dead of winter, when the temperatures dropped to forty below, they dressed in layered clothing that added another twenty pounds to their silhouettes and hunkered down next to the heater vents, hoping that the furnace wouldn't go out.
When boredom set in as it inevitably did after the holidays, people created winter diversions to keep their minds off the endless black and white world outside their windows. The end of January brought the Lake Eden Winter Carnival with competitive winter games at the Lake Eden Inn and rides through town in old-fashioned one-horse sleighs. In February, there was a gala Valentine Night's Ball, preceded by a potluck dinner. March heralded a phenomenon called Crazy Days. Standing gas heaters were set up every few feet on Main Street and merchants displayed their wares on the sidewalk in front of their stores. It was a study in delusion, but everyone seemed to enjoy pretending that the banks of snow no longer existed and summer had arrived. In April there was the annual Easter Egg Hunt. If the weather was cold enough to freeze the hardboiled eggs that were decorated by the Lake Eden Women's Club, the event was held in the community center.
Winter was hard, no doubt about that, but almost everyone agreed that December was a magical month. Any month with Christmas in it had to be enchanting. Lights twinkled in shop windows all along Main Street. The pink-flocked tree in the plate glass window of Doug Greerson's First Mercantile Bank glittered with garlands of gold tinsel artfully looped from branch to branch. Pink satin balls were interspersed with gold candy canes, and pink mini-lights twinkled merrily.
Gus York had decorated his barber pole with colored lights again this year, and it reflected against the freshly fallen snow. The picture window that featured two chrome and leather barber chairs was outlined with garlands of pine boughs, red satin bows, and flashing white mini-lights.
Not to be outdone by his neighbor, Al Percy of Lake Eden Realty featured a miniature home in his front window. It had been wired, and lights blazed in the dining room, where a Christmas dinner was being served while the Christmas tree glowed softly in the den. Miniature wreaths were on every door, and the roof was decorated with a miniature Santa in his sleigh.
The window at Trudi's Fabrics was a work of stitchery art. A red and green velvet quilt formed the background, and angels floated from nearly invisible fishing line hanging from the ceiling. Each angel wore a colorful robe, a sample of the Christmas fabrics that Trudi and Loretta featured in their store. Sparkling gold lights provided illumination as the angels floated over a miniature forest of potted baby spruce and blooming poinsettias.
Although Hannah couldn't see the front window of Hal and Rose's Café from her vantage point at The Cookie Jar, she knew Rose had put up her tree again this year. The shiny metal pine changed colors when a small spotlight shone through a disk of revolving colored gels. The metal trees had been very popular a few years before Hannah was born, and Hannah's grandfather and father had stocked them at Lake Eden Hardware. As far as Hannah was concerned, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Rose's tree on display.
"I'm back," a voice called out, breaking into Hannah's thoughts. It was Lisa, and she was back from her cookie deliveries. A few moments later the swinging restaurant-style door between the kitchen and the coffee shop opened and Lisa came in.
"The tree looks beautiful!" she exclaimed, walking closer to take a look. "I can't believe those shellacked cookie ornaments I made two years ago have lasted this long."
"Why wouldn't they? Shellac is a great preservative. Did you know that people used to believe it was made from the wings of an insect found in India?"
Lisa shook her head. "But it's not?"
"That's right. It's actually harvested from the secretions of the female insects and it's scraped from the bark of trees."
"Okay. I guess that's a little better."
"Not always. Sometimes they scoop up the insect along with the bark."
"Yuck! I wish you hadn't told me."
"Sorry about that. It is kind of unappetizing. Did you finish the deliveries?"
"They're all done, except for Mr. Jaeger. I'm going to drop those off on my way home." Lisa sat down next to Hannah and took a sip of the coffee she'd carried in with her. "I ran into Herb, and he drove me around. It's really cold out there, and his patrol car was nice and warm."
Hannah smiled. Lisa still had stars in her eyes when she talked about her husband of ten months. As Lisa's father and Herb's mother were fond of saying, they were perfect for each other.
"We got a chance to talk between deliveries," Lisa went on, "and Herb said Mayor Bascomb had to take Mrs. Bascomb to the emergency room at the hospital last night."
"That doesn't sound good." Hannah noticed that Lisa was still referring to her elders by their formal names, just as she'd done as a child. Old habits died hard in Lake Eden. "What's wrong with Stephanie, do you know?"
"Doc Knight diagnosed her with a bad case of the flu and he's keeping her in the hospital. He was really upset because she didn't show up to get her flu shot at the clinic, especially when he sent her a reminder and everything."
"Why didn't she get the shot?"
Lisa glanced around and leaned a bit closer even though there were no customers to overhear their conversation. "The reminder said that the shot was available for anyone over forty-five."
"And she didn't want to be seen at the clinic because that would be admitting she was over forty-five?"
"That's what Herb thinks, and he's almost always right."
"Vanity, thy name is Stephanie Bascomb," Hannah said, borrowing heavily from the Bard. "She's going to be all right, isn't she?"
"She should be. Doc's keeping her in the hospital for the rest of the week just to make sure she eats right and gets plenty of rest. And that's why I'm losing my husband until the weekend."
Hannah gave a little shake of her head. "What did you say?"
"I said that's why I'm losing Herb for the rest of the week. Since Mrs. Bascomb won't be home, the mayor's taking this opportunity to move his ice fishing house up to Mille Lacs Lake. He asked Herb to come along to help him. They're leaving tonight at midnight when there's less traffic, and once they put it out on the ice, they're going to stay and fish for a couple of days."
"I didn't know Herb liked ice fishing."
"He doesn't, not particularly, but it's the politic thing to do. Besides, Mayor Bascomb's ice fishing house is the fanciest one around. If he doesn't feel like fishing, he can watch television or play pool."
Hannah remembered her one and only tour of the mayor's ice fishing house. She'd driven across the ice to deliver coffee and cookies to the fishing contestants at Lake Eden's Winter Carnival. The mayor's ice fishing house had been luxurious, but the fancy lavish furnishings had been completely overshadowed by the grim discovery they'd made.
"I promised Herb I'd make him some Pork and Beans Bread before he left. It's his favorite and he thinks Mayor Bascomb will like it, too."
"Pork and Beans Bread?"
"It's Patsy's recipe. She got it last month when she went to California to visit a friend. They stopped in Paso Robles at a place called Vic's Café and ordered it off the menu."
Excerpted from Plum Pudding Murder by JOANNE FLUKE. Copyright © 2009 Joanne Fluke. 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.
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!
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Another great winner from Joanne Fluke. I love her characters and the recipes she includes in each book
Another entry in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson mystery series. As usual, Hannah gets embroiled in some sleuthing while cooking up a storm. It's Christmas time in Lake Eden, where it always seems to be cold and snowy, and the Christmas tree lot is not quite what it seems. A very enjoyable read.
For all those who are regular Hannah Swensen fans, this was as enjoyable as all the others with the renewed appearances of Moishe, the cat, Hannah's two boyfriends, Dolores (her mother),her sisters, niece, and co-workers.Hannah is supplying cookies to Crazy Elf town where Christmas trees are sold along with other amusements to entertain the tree buyers. The shady business owner is found murdered by Hannah and Norman (boyfriend #1) and while Hannah tries to solve the murder, she also tries to figure out why Carrie (N9rman's Mother) seems to be hiding something from her friends and son. It is delightful how the recipes that are included (28 total) are interwoven in the story and how the characters fit together so perfectly. Looking forward to the next one.
Hannah Swenson is as busy as ever at the Cookie Jar, not only is she baking for her shop but for the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot as well. It¿s no surprise that the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot is running out of cookies way before closing time and so Hannah meets with the owner, Larry Jaeger to add more cookies to the order. Late one night she stops by the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot to pick up a check, she discovers the body of Larry. With the support of various friends and family, Hannah is on the hunt for the killer. Can she survive another confrontation with the killer? Yes, this is like the other Hannah mystery- main plot with subplots (this one being about Norman's mom, Carrie and how she has been blowing off friends and family causing everyone to worry about her making Hannah and Norman make sure she's not in any trouble. Even Mike is involved as he is worried Carrie is stealing from the mall.) But this book is different Larry dose not die for a long time! Pages and pages go by without his death. I was left wondering if it would ever happen!I have a few problems with this book as well. First being Hannah use to be a strong women in my mind and lately I just don¿t see it anymore. I feel like she is being walked over by everyone because she can cook. You can really see it in the scenes were Mike comes over late for no real reason at a time when he should know she would be sleeping as she gets up super early every day. You can even tell by her thoughts that she does not want to make more coffee and just wants to go to bed but will so that Mike is not disappointed in her. The other time this problem occurred was when Hannah was serving x-mass dinner. It was not about being with family and friends but about the food that on the table. I was left with a feeling of her being used. Next problem is the Mike and Norman issue. We still have a triangle¿ and everyone looks happy about it. Mike is shown hardly at all and when he dose¿ not in the best light. Believing that Carrie is stealing- shows his off to be a bad detective in my mind. Coming late to Hannah¿s place- makes his out to be a jerk who only wants to be feed well. Saving her at the end- kind of random as Mike is hardly investigating at all in Larry¿s death. Mike= Steam man beef. And I hate to say it but I feel like Mike is being used by Hannah, used for his hotness. When Hannah¿s thoughts bring up his cheating again, I no longer feel bad for her, but happy that Mike can see that his relationship with Hannah is going no were at all¿ Norman on the other had is the opposite of Mike. In this book he is her right hand man, even finds the body with her. He asks Hannah all the time if he can help with anything, even cooking and wrapping her gifts. But there is two things he lacks: steamy heat and willingness to win Hannah hands over his friendship with Mike. Norman is almost too safe to pick. And wait! The love triangle might become a square?!? Who is this blast from the past? Do we hate him¿ love him? I really don¿t know other than Hannah looks as if she does not want to see him again.Will I keep reading this? Yes I will. It is not because the town will soon have no one left to kill, but for the fact that it¿s light and fluffy. What I want most is for Hannah¿s love life to be with one man, and the cat to keep on being entertaining. I hope with this new guy something happens to shake up this little town from the nap it¿s been having!
I loved the earlier Hannah Swansen mysteries, but the last four (Plum Pudding, Devil's Food Cake, , Cream Puff, Apple Turnover) have become problematic. Way too many recipes, way too little mystery. And, frankly, the love interests are getting very rote and her attempt to make them more complex has just made Mike more callous and put Norman in an absurd situation that has no credibility. And her other characters are losing their edge.
Crime fiction really takes a back seat in this light fluffy read, #13 in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series. It's hard to take murder seriously when you are constantly being distracted by delicious recipes, placed in the book almost at the end of every chapter.Not that there is anything wrong with the story. It is well plotted and all the threads resolve. Hannah coopts friends and family to help her investigate mysteries large and small, but in the long run she is the one who comes up with the answers.And for those who like it, there is also a little light romance.
Not as interesting as some of the others in the series, so I'd recommend this only for Hannah Swensen fans.
As a previous Hannah Swensen book fan, I enjoyed the story and the characters...nothing too exciting or new. I wish the author would help Hannah decide which of the two men she is going to marry. It is driving me crazy to have the back and forth game going on soooooo long. Now without giving away the ending, there is going to be another love interest if I read the last pages correctly. Sorry, it is getting old. The recipes look really good this time and I have actually made plans to try a few of the cookies out with my family. Great job on choosing recipes this time. Please wrap up the threesome thing and let us move on!
My only regret about this book is that I didn't receive it before Christmas (minor publisher's oops). If you've read any of Ms. Fluke's other books in the series, this one won't be a big surprise. The characters are likable, winter in Minnesota is described so well you feel like you're there and the recipes sound downright delectable (I especially liked the sound of the 'Easy Cheesy Biscuits' and the 'Hot Fudge Sundae Cakes'.) My only complaint is, having grown up in a Scandinavian family, nothing like her 'Scandinavian Spuds' were ever on the Christmas menu. Potatoes were mashed, turkey and lutfisk were served and turkey gravy wound up being poured over all of the above. ;)Like another reviewer, I'm getting tired of the "menage a trois". I thought that Hannah'd pretty much given up on Mike in an earlier book, but no; the "tension" continues with this not particularly likable character. My only complaint with the series is my husband's getting tired of me yelling, "Dump him already!" whenever I read one of the series.This is a "cozy" so, if you're a fan, you'll love it. If you've got a fireplace or wood-stove, build a nice fire, brew up a cup of tea or a cup of cocoa...maybe bake a few Hot Fudge Sundae cakes and snuggle up, sit back and enjoy!
Joanne Fluke's Plum Pudding Murder made me want to go into the kitchen and start baking. This is a Christmas cozy mystery, the 13th in the Hannan Swensen series. Hannah owns The Cookie Jar, a pastry and coffee shop in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She has a knack for finding dead bodies and figuring out who done it. Juggling two boyfriends, the needs of her mother, sisters, employees and one orange and white cat, Hannah still has time to cook.Twenty-eight recipes are included in the book. It makes me wish that every cookbook was written with an entertaining story like this.
The Plum Pudding Murder was an enjoyable read but not one of the best in the series. I like Fluke's books because there is a certain innocence to the characters and the stories (amidst the murders). It's always a cozy read. Fluke also gives the reader enough clues to make things interesting but not so many that it is easy to figure out who's guilty. The characters are realistic in their small-townishness but not so much in their diets - The cookie and coffee consumption should have these folks visiting a combination diabetes-insomnia clinic. Nor is the competition between two men for the affections of the protagonist, Hannah, particularly realistic. But still - I am sure I will continue to read each of Fluke's books as they come out.The investigation in this one was a little thin and while a solid motive was revealed, it didn't really hold together as well as some of her others. Nevertheless, a quick and fun read. These books are a lot of fun to listen to, and if you have a non-iPod MP3 player you can download them for free off of netlibrary.com (you may need to access it first through your local library with your library card number, but once you set up a profile you can go directly to netlibrary.com). Not all of them are on there but there are at least 10.
Life in a small town. It's all so complicated.Hannah Swensen is the owner of the Cookie Jar, a delightful small town bakery. Hannah dates Norman, the local dentist. Norman and Hannah were once engaged, but due to her fascination with another local boy, Detective Mike, she broke it off. Now she dates both men, in a squeaky clean, crime-solving, sexless way. They don't mind, because they both love her (and her cat Moishe).Now, Norman's mom, Carrie, and Hannah's mom, Delores, are partners in the local antique shop, Granny's Attic. Lately, Carrie has been blowing off friends and family--breaking dates, not showing up to work, signing up for a small business class and not attending--and everyone's worried. So, Norman and Hannah begin their sleuthing, to determine what's going on in Carrie's life, and to make sure she's not in any trouble.And, oh yes, round about page 170, there's a murder.As always, with these coziest of cozies, the murder in Plum Pudding Murder isn't the main thing, nor is the solving of the murder, or the fact that Hannah almost gets killed in the thrilling chase at the end. No, the main thing is small town life and the people who make it that way.And the food, that's the other main thing.Ah, the food. Read just the names of these recipes (a mere smattering of the many that appear throughout the book) and tell me that you're not beginning to feel at least a little peckish.Hot Fudge Sundae CakesOrange Julius CookiesChocolate Raspberry TrufflesFudge-Mallow Cookie BarsChocolate Chip Pretzel CookiesHow is it possible that every one of the people in these books doesn't weigh 300 pounds? In addition to what she creates at her bakery, Hannah bakes at least one batch of cookies or other tasty treats every single day at home. Every day! And she and all her friends eat them. All of them. Every day!And how do they ever manage to get any sleep? Now that's a real mystery. The coffee pot goes off on a timer at 3:45 every morning, coffee is drunk constantly throughout the day, and the last pot of coffee is usually put on--and drunk--at 9:30 or 10:00 at night. No wonder there are so many murders--everybody's nerves are constantly a-jangle from all that caffeine.Here's the thing about Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries. They're light and fluffy and they make you feel good. The writing is sufficient, the plots are okay; it's that darn feel-good factor that keeps me coming back for more. And as far as I'm concerned, that's enough.
This was my first Hannah Swensen mystery. Loved the recipes and the small town details. I didn't quite get the whole two boyfriends thing and I had trouble keeping some of the people they keep mentioning straight. I'll probably try out some more of the Hannah Swensen series to catch up (and for the recipes!)
This was a fun book to read, as most of the Hannah Swensen mystery series has been. This is # 12.Swensen runs a dessert restaurant called the The Cookie Jar, and lends her hand to solving murder mysteries. She has two boy friends, one of whom, Mike, is a cop. The other is Norman, a dentist, and one wonders which one she will seal up her life with. Hannah's mother, Dolores, runs a antique shop in the same small town in Minnesota.A feature of the Swensen series is the chapters with recipes. "Plum Pudding Mystery" is a holiday mystery and the culinary high point is the lavish Christmas Eve dinner. Hannah is assisted by her partner, Lisa, and her two sisters, ndrea and Michelle. But Hannah finds a person murdered in the village and she discovers many things about him that point to their being suspects.
Plum Pudding Murder is one of a long series of food-oriented mysteries by Joanne Fluke. I received it from the Library Thing early reviewers program. It is a pleasant, light and cozy story, but no one will mistake it for deep or intellectual literature. Hannah runs a cookie business ¿ the small Minnesota town is preparing for Christmas. There is a murder and it is solved, but that seems secondary to cookie baking, Hannah¿s life with two boyfriends, a cat, her mother and sister and assorted fellow residents of town. Fully 20 percent of the book is recipes, with very thorough instructions ¿ and probably an equivalent length as discussion of details of kitchen prep, plugging cars in to keep the heater block from freezing and other arcane details that don¿ t advance the plot, or develop the characters. It was a pleasant read, but I will not be racing to the library for more cookie mysteries- too sweet and simplistic for me- and I found myself annoyed by the level of detail in the recipes- does anyone really need to be told how to beat eggs before adding them to cookie dough? And I¿ve never before been told to pack the flour down in the measuring cup¿seem to guarantee different amounts of flour depending on how had and how damp the day is.. If you want to escape into a cozy world for a couple of hours, and like thinking about baking, you will probably enjoy Plum Pudding Murder. I enjoyed it to a degree, but will try for more complicated stories for my general reading.
I always enjoy reading about Hannah Swenson, and this book is no exception. I did find that the plot seemed a little weaker than some of the others, and it bogged down in spots with a bit too much detail about how Hannah was cooking/baking this or that. I also found that there were hints about something that happened in Hannah's past with yet another man, but it never went anywhere. I suppose that will develop more in another book, but it left me with a feeling that the story wasn't finished. Overall, though, I liked the book, and I was lucky to receive it just in time for Christmas reading, which added to the overall pleasure.
This is a pretty typical cozy, and as the 12th in this series, the reader is probably familiar with the characters by now. I like that, in most cases. I like reading series books, and Joanne Fluke does it well. I also love cozy mysteries set at Christmastime, so this one was doubly enjoyable.
I think I am done with this series now. The author seems to really be phoning it in at this point. The mystery doesn't really begin until over halfway through the novel. Also, Hannah seems to have mostly forgotten what she learned about one of her beaus in the last novel, and continues to cook him meals. The last shred of plausibility the relationship may have had is completely gone. As I was reading, I realized that the characters talk more about food than anything else. Every chapter seems more concerned with discussing the dessert that will be featured as a recipe at the end of the chapter than in plot progression. Joanne Fluke may want to switch to writing cookbooks because that seems to be where her interest now lies. The author seems bored with the characters, and now I am bored with her books. Next!
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke is my first Hannah Swensen book. I do like mystery series in general, so assumed this would be ok. It took a while to get into all the characters mentioned, but she has the genre down well, of course, and after a bit I was into the whole small town life she has created in Lake Eden. Being an Iowa native, I'm quite familiar with small towns, cold weather, and Minnesota is nearby. As a life-time business educator, the small business financial intrigue was of interest, as well. It was also of interest that while the murder was introduced in the first few pages, we got two-thirds of the way through before we got back around to it. The recipes must be very popular, and are a great hook for the series. It was a fun read!