The Barnes & Noble Review
Joanna Fluke has put together a terrific recipe for a holiday-themed whodunit in this Hannah Swenson culinary mystery.
Bakery owner Hannah knows everyone has special plans and traditions for the holidays, so she's planned a grand seasonal pot-luck dinner to test the recipes the residents of Lake Eden, Minnesota, have offered to share in the cookbook she's compiling. With all that delicious food bringing so many people together, there's sure to be plenty of gossip to spice up the party -- from the showgirl Martin Dubinski brought home from Las Vegas as his new bride to Hannah's mom's lordly British beau to the mayor's latest indiscretion. Even getting snowed in at the community center can't put a damper on the festive occasion…at least until Hannah puts the crowd's holiday mood on ice by discovering the showgirl's dead body in the snow-covered parking lot. To add insult to injury (and complicate Hannah's dessert plan as well), the killer had the poor taste to use Hannah's mother's jeweled antique cake knife as the murder weapon.
To keep her beloved community from crumbling, Hannah uses all the ingredients at her disposal -- from digital photography to small-town memories -- to whip up a speedy solution to this culinary crime. And readers will find their appetites tempted by the author's wonderful descriptions of the items on the menu. You'll find more than 80 delectable holiday recipes, for everything from soups and appetizers to entrees and side dishes to drinks and desserts -- including the Cookie Jar bakery's own special Christmas Sugar Cookies. Sue Stone
In her first holiday mystery, Fluke (Fudge Cupcake Murder, etc.) takes her series heroine, Hannah Swensen, amateur sleuth and owner of the Cookie Jar bakery in Lake Eden, Minn., through a delectable culinary romp. Hannah has compiled a cookbook of the locals' favorite recipes, which are to be featured at the Christmas party at Lake Eden's community center. All the residents gather for a festive evening, including Martin Dubinski and his wife of two days, Brandi Wyen, a Las Vegas dancer who's decked out in a new fur coat and antique emerald ring. The couple provide much food for thought and speculation, especially for Martin's mother, ex-mother-in-law and ex-wife. Cleaning up after the dinner, Hannah notices her mother's silver cake knife is missing; soon after, she finds the knife stuck in the chest of the new Mrs. Dubinski, who's lying dead in the parking lot. With her sisters and friends, she goes into action to help Det. Mike Kingston solve the case. Wacky and delightful characters, plus tempting recipes from appetizers to desserts, make this lighthearted offering sure to please the palate of any cozy fan. (Oct. 5) FYI: The book's last half consists of recipes, including an index. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Cookie-monger Hannah Swenson (Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, 2003, etc.) continues to juggle one career, two suitors, and assorted corpses in Fluke's latest confection. When the owner of The Cookie Jar is tapped to edit the Lake Eden potluck cookbook, one recipe she definitely wants to exclude is Shawna Lee Quinn's brownie recipe-cute detective Mike Kingston just likes those brownies too much. So on her way to the community Christmas party, she delivers a pan of jalapeno-laced brownies to the Winnetka County sheriff's office to see if she can jolt Mike to his senses. At the party, though, it's Hannah who gets jolted. After judging the appetizers and entrees, she loses track of her mother's prized Regency cake cutter, only to find it plunged into the ample bosom of Brandi, Martin Dubinski's brand-new Vegas showgirl wife. Once again, Mike warns her to leave investigating to the professionals. But with the help of alternate boyfriend Norman Rhoades, Hannah quickly discovers that the murder isn't what it appears to be. Now if she can only get out of the snowbound community center before her sister Andrea delivers her baby on the dessert table-and, more important, before Mike tastes those doctored brownies. The 81 appended recipes (a record for the genre?) run the gamut from radish soup to candied pecans. The mystery is plainer fare, though Hannah still proves she's smarter than Mike gives her credit for.