Gingerbread Cookie Murder

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Gingerbread Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen #13.5) by Joanne Fluke

So I hate these Hannah Swenson holiday specials.

They are boring, predictable, and just avenues to include a ton of Christmas type recipes. But I started something, and now I am going to finish it. The review must go on.

Plot Synopsis:

It is Christmas time once again in Lake Eden. Ernie Kusak, driver, chauffeur, etc; has recently won the lottery, moved into Hannah’s condo, and started playing Christmas music incredibly loud and ALL THE TIME.

I don’t like it.

He told Hannah he would turn it down tonight, so hopefully he does.

Yay!

That night Hannah goes out with Norman, his mother Carrie, her new husband Earl, Hannah’s mother Delores, and her new boyfriend Gary Jenkins. He just moved into town, and bought Ernie’s old house.

When Hannah gets home she discovers that Ernie negated on his promise and that all the music is on and full blast.

Luckily someone has called the police, so Mike is there. Ernie’s ex-wife loans Mike her spare key to get into the house and they find Ernie’s dead body.

Who killed him? And why?

Thoughts After Reading:

So what did I think?

So what are my issues with this book?

1)Helpful Hannah

Mike questions Lorna, as we all know the wife/ex-wife usually has good motive for murder. Hannah tries to help by telling her she didn’t do it and it’s horrible to have her be accused. HELLO Hannah if you interfere with Mike’s questioning he is never going to let you in on anything. And two, you don’t know that she didn’t do it. She could be the killer.

Seriously Hannah!

2)Mike Questions Hannah as the killer

Really Mike? You think that she could be a killer. My goodness that is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Why are the deputies so stupid!

3)How does Hannah run her business?

How does Hannah make any money selling her goods at 50¢?

4)The Cops are Idiots

Now it hurts me to write this as I like police officers. My family has had them throughout and I respect them. But man they are so stupid in this book series.

The cops seem to get dumber in each book. In this one they think one man killed Ernie, but only wiped half of his fingerprints, leaving the crucial ones. Really? Smells like a frame-up

5)Fluke Knows Nothing of Cell Phones.

So Hannah discovers that Gary’s phone number was the same on the winning ticket. You know you don’t pick your number when you get a cell phone, you have one assigned. So it is pretty strange to choose “these” influential numbers that mean something, when he couldn’t do that.

6) It is All Circumstansial Evidence

And the dumbest thing to this book? How Hannah discovers the reason for murder and the guy admits it. So all the numbers on Gary’s phone number all have a certain special meaning to him. These are also the ones he chooses for the lottery ticket, the one Ernie claims is his. He has it framed and hanging on the wall, Gary spots it and kills him. Hannah figures it out and when she questions him, all Gary has to do is deny it. There is no proof he was in there, just because they use the same numbers doesn’t mean anything. It all is circumstantial. All he has to do is say he doesn’t know anything, let them prosecute the other guy and go on his way. Why would he give himself up? It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb.

For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Apple Turnover Murder

For more Hannah Swenson Christmas mysteries, go to Plum Pudding Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For book reviews, go to A Duty to the Dead

Plum Pudding Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

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Me too!

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Okay!

Plumpuddingmurder

Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #12) by Joanne Fluke

*Contains Spoilers*

So the first thing I notice in this book is in her acknowledgements, she thanks:

Jill Saxton for correcting my Minnesota mistakes

Joanne Fluke is from Minnesota, how could she be getting it wrong?

weird

So the beginning of this book actually is one of the strongest. We see it from the point of view of Larry Jaeger, and of course we know right away he is a major jerk.

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He has come back to Lake Eden to swindle as many investors as he can. The biggest investor is his fiancé Courtney, but even she doesn’t know what he’s doing or how much money he has squirreled away.

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He has everything closed up and ready to shut down for the night. All he has to do is wait for Hannah Swenson to pick up her check for the cookies and such that he is selling at his Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. As he waits for Hannah and Norman to come, he hears something. He thinks it is Hannah, but he is dead wrong. Instead someone charges in and kills him “for what he has done.”

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One Day Earlier

In The Cookie Jar, Hannah and Lisa are decorating for Christmas when Hannah spurts out another one of her random factoid, this time that shellac was originally made from female insects. Now this needs to stop.

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I know you are trying to make her sound educated and intelligent, but none of these factoids ever sound like real conversations. They are just out of nowhere with Hannah being some kind of “I am supreme knowledge woman” and everyone just fascinated for the slightest bauble coming out of her mouth. Just no. NO MORE!!! It’s boring and stupid.

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Delores, Hannah’s mother, comes in to talk with her about her best friend, and business partner, Carrie Rhodes (Norman’s mom). Delores and Carrie were supposed to take a class together about running a small business, but all Carrie seems to do is be busy lately.

seriously

She wants Hannah’s help to find out why, along with her coming to class.

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When Hannah gets to the class she runs into the last person she ever wanted to see. The Professor she was having an affair with! The one who turned out to be married, and the reason she left school.

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But that isn’t who they have for their class. They have Dr. Kimberly Whiting, who is pretty boring and Hannah can’t wait to leave. When they finally do get out, Norman turns up as he came to drive Hannah home, and hopes to take her out to dinner.

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They head back to her place as she decides she is far too tired to go out. This works for Norman as it turns out he has an ulterior motive.

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No not that. He too wants Hannah to help him figure out what’s going on with his mom.

What?

Why is she acting so weird? Why is she canceling on him all the time.

HMMM

While the two are eating and cooking, Mike decides to drop by. Now as you can guess I don’t like Mike. I think it is obvious she should get with Norman as Mike has a roving eye, and just expects Hannah to be free when he is.

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Anyways. While they are all eating and having fun, Andrea calls needing help in getting a Christmas tree, and both Norman and Mike decide to come and help.

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When they get there we have another Hannah lecture and random factoid…

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They go to the Crazy Elf’s Tree Lot, which is more than just trees. While Norman and Andrea look for a tree, Mike and Hannah ride a few rides and head over to the snack bar. It seems as if Hannah’s cookies are selling like crazy, and they are running out way too soon.

After Hannah takes more orders, Mike wants to get Hannah alone…

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NO not that. He wanted to talk to her about Carrie.

really?

It seems she’s on everybody’s mind.

seriously

Anyway, Mike has been working extra shifts at the Tri-County Mall and thinks Carrie is a shoplifter.

What?

And what ’til you hear this. The reason why he thinks that is because she is buying a lot of stuff and looked like she didn’t want to talk to him about it.

What?

That’s all your evidence? Come on, you suck as a detective. Did you look into whether those weren’t Christmas gifts? Charity donations? Clothes for the holiday parties? Maybe she has a boyfriend. I mean come on, think about it logically. There are a thousand reasons why someone may be shopping a lot around the holidays that don’t involve stealing.

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Oh my gosh, Mike is so stupid! He’s this dunderheaded in every book.

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So Mike and Hannah go to see Larry and talk about cookies. After the orders are done they get back to Andrea who has bought multiple trees. Norman buys Hannah a Christmas Tree, although she thinks it won’t work with her cat.

They go to set up the tree, calling in Lonnie, a deputy and Michelle’s (Hannah’s other sister) sometimes boyfriend. Hannah finds out from Lonnie that his sister is crocheting cute animals for the Crazy Elf Larry and getting paid $10. Hannah thinks it low as Larry is selling them for $20, but hey Hannah that’s business.

seriously

The next day, Hannah is working in her shop when her mother comes in. Her assistant Luanne, a really hard worker, is missing!

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No one’s seen her, she didn’t come to work, and she’s not answering the phone. They call again, but still nothing.

This is bad.

This is bad.

But such is life, and Hannah continues cooking, getting the order ready for Crazy Larry.

Now here is where I have a major problem. We are nearing the halfway point of the book and were missing something.

Murder

Instead it has been trees, cookies, etc. Now I don’t have a problem with it being Christmas heavy, I love Christmas! But as they have taken so long to reach the murder and mystery, that means that we are going to have a quick wrap up. And it is going to either be A) extremely obvious, or B) solved in a silly and stupid way. Not looking forward to it.

seriously

But back to the book. After Hannah finishes for the day she heads over to Luanne’s to see where she is and what’s going on.

It turns out that Luanne was asleep. She was given a job by Courtney to check the Crazy Elf Books and had stayed up way into the morning trying to balance the books, but to no avail. Luanne thinks it is her fault, but Hannah suspects that Larry isn’t everything he says he is.

urkelgif interesting hmm

They head to the Christmas lot as Hannah needs to deliver the cookies and Luanne return the books.

They drop off the cookies and head out to see Courtney. Luanne tells her about her problems, and that she mentioned the issue to Larry. So not only is Larry cheating the company, Courtney knows, and Larry knows that Courtney knows.

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Back at the shop the girls are cooking up cookies when Dr. Whiting, the Mayor, and Herb (Lisa’s husband stop by). When Hannah sees Herb and Lisa and it makes her think about getting married. Let me just say I am sooo tired of this triangle.

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It is totally obvious who she should be with. I mean read this:

If she [Hannah] had accepted Norman’s proposal, he’d probably look at her like that. Norman was a true blue, and he’s be the sort of husband who would never risk his marriage by having an affair with another woman.

On the other hand, if she’d accepted Mike’s offer of marriage he’d probably…Hannah’s daydream evaporated in a flash of painful reality. If she’s married Mike and he went out of town for the night, she couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t stray. It might be a repeat of his nights with Ronnie Ward and Shawna Lee Quinn. If she were Mrs. Mike Kingston, she’d always wonder what he was up to when she wasn’t with him.

What’s the issue? You like Norman, he’s perfect, and your cats get along. Besides he built your dream house.

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Anyways, they get into a discussion about good business practices, and look over their homework. They notice that the wrong thing was the fact that the business was only dealing in cash. It is a bad business practice as it means the records might not be as accurate and could be hiding something. But that’s not true for every business. Like key shops.

That night Norman and Hannah go out for dinner and spot a couple hiding in a curtained booth. All they can see are the shoes, but the two want to snoop some more and Hannah pretends to accidentally spill her purse. As they pick the items up, Norman realizes who the woman is. IT’S HIS MOM!!!!

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Hannah tells Norman about Mike’s suspicions, and Norman is justifiably angry.

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They drive around the parking lot looking at the cars and trying to guess which guy it is when Hannah has to head out to Crazy Elf to get her check. The whole lot is very quiet…

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And the door to his office unlocked…

weird

And when Hannah reaches for her check, she spots Larry and realizes

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And that there are bullet holes in the room

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Meaning it is:

Murder

And this happens on page 167. Finally. Geez it was taking forever.

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It turns out that instead of being horrified at Hannah discovering another dead body, her mother Carrie wants Hannah’s help. It turns out her friend Dr. Love, a psychologist and radio show host, is the wife of Larry and the prime suspect.

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Hannah goes down to the bank to deposit Larry’s check and discovers that Larry had multiple accounts.

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So by now I figured that it is Dr. Whiting. She’s new in town, she just pops up randomly, has no real character, and is completely obvious as the killer.

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The police discover that Larry destroyed a lot of people by having them invest in his business only to give out false documentation.

Everything will be fine.

A real Ponzi

The mystery of what going on with Carrie is solved when they discover that it is Earl, a man they like and are okay with.

It was pretty dumb.

It was pretty dumb.

Norman does research on the computer and discovers one of Larry’s dirty deeds was as a large television set seller. The guy, Salvatore Bianco, who was cheated out of everything ended up killing himself. Hannah thinks the person is connected to Bianco, even though he cheated a ton of people and it could be ANYONE. The crime happened in Wisconsin so they are looking for someone from Wisconsin as to be the killer.

Hannah discovers that it is Dr. Whiting, because get this Bianco means White in Italian and her car plates have a W on it.

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Really? That a LOT of circumstantial evidence. I mean even if she is related that doesn’t mean she killed him. And of course instead of acting logical, Dr. Whiting tries to kill her, Hannah saves the day, they have Christmas dinner. Yada, yada, yada.

blahblah

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really do not like these Christmas themed books as it seems like an excuse to just cram as many recipes as they can in and the mysteries are always obvious and cheesy.

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I did not like it.

horrible

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more conmen, go to Peach Cobbler Murder

 For more mystery reviews, go to Snagged

Cream Puff Murder

cream puff murder

Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries #11)

So Hannah’s mother, Delores, is planing a huge party to celebrate the release of her newest Regency themed book. She has ordered special gowns for her daughters to wear to the event. The only problem? Hannah’s dress is much, much too small.

well that's just great anchorman

Only one thing left for her to do: Diet.

Diet

While she hates working out, she decides to join her sister, Andrea, in her new exercise regime at the newest gym, Heavenly Bodies. Now why is Andrea working out? Well even though she looks great, with Ronni Ward, three time bikini queen and always after men married or single, Andrea has been feeling insecure.

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And she isn’t the only one Ronni is upsetting. Almost every female in Lake Eden is upset with Ronni’s return and her putting the moves on their men.

Hate her that's so raven

But Hannah has other things to focus on: such as creating the perfect dessert for her mother’s party, and getting in shape to fit the dress.

gotthis

As everyone involved has agreed that Hannah’s cream puffs are the perfect choice for the party; Hannah does a few trial runs on flavors. Mike sees them and buys them for Ronni’s party as he thinks they will be just perfect.

Really Mike?

Really Mike? Really? Buy something from one girlfriend for another?

The next day Andrea and Hannah head to the gym, using their member key to get in really early. After they have worked hard, they decide to head to the jacuzzi for a reward.

fantastic

Andrea continues her workout a bit longer as Hannah goes first. There she finds a huge mess from Ronni’s party. Food and drink stuff, both of which are not supposed to be in the pool/jacuzzi area.

Come on, guys. You didn't even clean up?

Come on, guys. You didn’t even clean up?

But then as Hannah looks further, she finds a dead body. Ronni.

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She’s been Murdered.

Murder

Almost the entire sheriff’s department is suspended as they either had a relationship with her, like Mike, or was a friend, like Bill. With only two newbies left and having to bring in outside assistance; Hannah decides it is up to her group to solve the crime. She, Norman, Andrea, Michelle, Delores, and even Carrie set out on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of the few Hannah Swensen Mysteries I actually enjoy.

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I know, a real shocker. I liked this because the end wasn’t predictable. Fluke leads down a path that causes you to think is the end is totally obvious. It has to be this person, it just has to. They are the only one who makes sense.

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Fake information is  even given by another character to steer you away from who you think it is, but it makes you think even more that the person you are thinking of is the killer.

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But then at the end when you have the reveal, you are completely amazed as you discover you were looking in the wrong direction the whole time.

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And it isn’t one of those weird, completely out of left field endings either. This one made total sense.

loveitSupernatural

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So that was the good. Now let’s look at the bad.

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Hannah and Mike’s Relationship

Really Mike?

Really Mike?

So there is this love triangle between Mike, Hannah, and Norman. And I really don’t know why it is there. Norman loves Hannah and Mike loves having a good time. Mike is a horrible boyfriend as he doesn’t want to commit himself, but have fun with other ladies as well. Norman on the other hand is perfect. Why can’t Hannah see that already. I mean, argh, it just makes me so upset to have to read about how she can’t decide when the answer is clearly in front of her face.

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So let’s begin out Mike is a loser countdown:

A) Hannah: “[Mike’s] not mine. I’m not even sure he is partially mine, not when Ronni’s living in the apartment across the hall from him.” (pg. 6-7)

If he “isn’t” yours, and so eager to bounce to the new babe in town; why are you even with him? Just dump the chump already. He’ll move on quickly.

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B) Mike: “Sometimes I wish you’d taken me up on my marriage proposal. Then I could eat like this every night.” pg. 66

  1. First of all, Mike only proposed after he heard Norman was going to. Norman built Hannah her dream house. Mike ran out and bought a ring just because he didn’t want Norman to “win”.
  2. Second, Mike hardly ever takes Hannah out; instead making her always cook for him, and usually late even though he knows she gets up early in the morning to bake.
  3. Third, he states the only reason he is sad that Hannah turned him down is because she can’t cook for him every night. Really? Why is there a contest again?

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C) Norman: “I love you too. And I know telling you what to do is a lost cause. You never listen anyway. I’ll see you in about forty-five minutes with steak and salad and two types of cookies.” pg. 76

When Mike hears that Hannah is going on a diet, he tells her that will be good she needs to lose weight. Norman asks why she needs to change when she is already beautiful. Mike tells Hannah read this book, investigate like that, blah, blah, blah; Norman shares his advice and then lets Hannah choose whatever she wants. When Mike calls to take Hannah “out” she always ends up cooking for him, with Norman he takes her to the restaurant or brings the restaurant to her.

He's perfect.

He’s perfect.

D) At Midnight Mike Calls and Wakes Hannah Up Having Her Meet Him in The Freezing Parking Garage and Having Her Bring Him Coffee.

Mike doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a maid and assistant. And he knows she wakes up at like four in the morning and works all day. He’s suspended, he can wake up at four talk to her then and then go back to bed. He’s a jerk. Let her get her beauty sleep!

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E) Mike: “I just wanted you to know that there was nothing between Ronni and me. I know it looks bad, but there wasn’t…She needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I guess she was using me, but I didn’t mind being helpful…She was always calling me to come over for something and I went because…well…we had a lot in common since we both worked for the Sheriff’s department…I know it is going to come out that I slept at her place a few nights. We’d be watching a movie or something, I’d fall asleep on her couch. She never woke me. She’d go to bed and let me wake up on my own the next morning.” pg. 169-170

Really Mike? Really. So Ronni was your “friend”, the same way Shawna was your “friend”. In fact if Shawna hadn’t also been murdered; he would be messing around with her too.

And all these “she invited me over” crap? In every book 90% of the time Mike invites himself over or shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, like he’d be any different with Ronni.

He’s a jerk so cut him loose!

duh

F) Norman Makes Her a Low-Calorie Breakfast After Spoiling Her with the Incredible House, A Roaring Fire, Soft Bed, Plush Towels, and Two Cats.

Hannah stays the night at the master suite while Norman takes the guest room. It is an incredible and ritzy place. Then to top it off, he makes her an absolutely scrumptious breakfast, carefully measuring everything out so that he doesn’t ruin her diet.

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G) Mike: “Hannah…Where have you been? I’ve been calling you every hour since midnight!

Hannah: He’d called her at midnight. Again. Mike wasn’t concerned that she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Ronni was murdered. He’d probably wanted her to meet him in the garage again with a thermos of coffee and cookies so that he could give her more instructions on investigative procedure.” pg. 282

Hannah you said it. That is all he wants.

How rude

H) Mike: “I should have known someone would tell you, but I didn’t think you’s run to Norman on the rebound…It didn’t mean anything, Hannah. It was just…convenient, you know? She was right across the hall from me and…these things happen. You’re an adult. You know that.” pg. 283

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So first you lie, lie  about your relationship with Ronni? And then you try to excuse that behavior by saying it “just happened” and “that’s what adults do”?

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NO! NO! And NO! Good-bye.

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I) Nancy: “Keep your eyes open Hannah. If you find a man who doesn’t think he is the hero, grab him and give him a hug because he’s the only realist in the room.”

Hannah: “[To Norman] Do you think she modeled the Duke of Oakwood after you?

Norman: “After me?…What are you talking about, Hannah?…The Duke of Oakwood is about as far from my character as you can get.” pg. 333

Norman is fantastic. Pick him. Then the two could be the Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest. Besides that, he really loves her.

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Carrot Cake Murder

For more mystery reviews, go to The Harlot’s Tale

Candy Cane Murder

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Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #9.5) by Joanne Fluke

So Candy Cane Murder is actually a collection of three stories: Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery) by Joanne Fluke, The Dangers of Candy Canes (Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine, and Candy Canes of Christmas Past by Leslie Meir. I already reviewed Candy Canes of Christmas Past last December, as part of my countdown to Christmas. Today I will be looking at Fluke’s work.

It is Christmas time in Lake Eden, and Hannah is not very excited about it.

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You see, Hannah has agreed to be the Christmas elf for the County Children’s Home Christmas party. She will help Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstom Department Store, hand out toys and candy canes to all the kids.

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The only problem? Her suit does not match the color of her hair and reveals more of her size than she would like it to. It appears that she has been snacking too many Christmas goodies.

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But when her niece tells her she looks great, she decides to move forward and get ready to make those kids happy.

Unfortunately, there are a few more curves in the road. Wayne has come down with a sore throat that is incredibly raspy, making him almost unrecognizable. They are afraid that the kids might become frightened, so Hannah makes up the dumbest story imaginable as to why Santa is hoarse. I don’t know what the author was thinking.

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That evening is the big Christmas party, and Hannah has a great time. She tastes some tantalizing tidbits and dances the night away with both her guys.

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Hannah grows tired from her partying, earlier work, and even earlier bakery hours. She decides to call it a night and is joined by both of her sisters. They head out to the car when they come across a candy cane. A candy cane like the ones they handed out earlier to the kids.

Very suspicious

On closer inspection, it turns out that there is a whole path of candy canes. Hannah had given them all to Wayne after they finished with the kids earlier. Hannah decides to follow the path and climb the snow bank to see what caused Wayne, a skinflint, to drop so many and not go back to pick them up?

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At the end of the candy cane path is Wayne, still in his Santa suit and dead.

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Soon they discover it is murder and set out to find the killer. Could it be his ex-wife, angry at him for divorcing her and giving her no alimony? Or maybe his current wife is tired of being married but doesn’t want a huge legal ordeal? One of his mangers or staff that he was always cruel to? Or one of the countless others who dislike him?

WhoDoneIt?

Thoughts After Reading:

*Spoiler Alert*

I never would have read this if I had known it was an “in-between” novel. Let’s just say her in-between novels tend to, for lack of a better word, suck.

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I thought the plot was terrible, the potential suspects two-dimensional, and I had it all figured out immediately.

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I mean it was obvious that Melinda and Cory weren’t brother and sister, even more obvious than Bo Derek and Rob Lowe being lovers rather than mother and son in Tommy Boy.

And once again the love triangle continues to be in play even though it is more obvious than ever that Hannah and Norman are perfect for each other.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

I also didn’t care for the recipes in this book. None were really interesting, except for the Regency Seed Cakes, of which I will be making in the future.

I really just felt that this book was a way for the author to capitalize on the holidays rather than develop the storyline. You may think me a Scrooge, but I really feel like she was just trying to get those Christmas dollars with this one.

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For more on Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Key Lime Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more in-between novels, go to Candy for Christmas

For more reviews, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

Key Lime Pie Murder

Key lime pie murder

Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #9)

It’s summertime in Lake Eden, and that means that it is time for the Tri-County Fair!

Double double yay

As always there are loads of events, games, rides, and food booths. Hannah was planning on only suppling cookies to a booth, The Cookie Nook, but when a friend becomes sick, Hannah steps in to take her place.

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Yep, this year Hannah will be judging the bake-off; sampling all kinds of bread, cookies, pies, and more. She’s not in this alone, as the other two judges are home economics teacher, Pam, and instructional aide, Willa.

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In fact the whole Swensen family is taking part in the fair this year: Hannah’s mother Delores is running a dunk tank for the Lake Eden Historical Society;  Andrea, entering the mother-daughter beauty pageant with her daughter Tracey; and Hannah’s youngest sister Michelle is trying for the Tri-County Queen.

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What starts out as good eats, fun times, rodeo ramblings, and a quest to eat a deep-fried chocolate bar turns sour when Willa is murdered.

Murder

Now Hannah is on the case, trying to discover who is behind this killing.

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Did it have something to do with the robbery of the Rodeo entry fees? Was it someone who was upset with Willa disqualifying them from the Tri-County Queen contest? Could it have been someone who was upset that Willa gave them poor reviews on their baked good, causing them to win nothing and destroy their reputation as best cook? Was it a student flunked by Willa? Or was it someone unknown?

Sad but true.

Hannah soon realizes that she knows very little about who Willa is and her past. Why did she travel all over the United States, working in Washington, California, and Florida? Why did she break up with her fiancé two months ago? Why did she have her hair done and purchase a new outfit, when she had very little money?

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As Hannah starts looking into this crime, she discovers that she needs to watch her step, or else she might meet the same fate as Willa did.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

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Thoughts After Reading:

Now I thought the title, Key Lime Pie Murder, was a stretch. There is hardly any Key Lime pie in the book, just the one case when they sample it for the fair.

seriously

And to add to it, Hannah never even made a Key Lime pie, nor does she add it to her shop’s menu, like in Lemon Meringue Murderwhich would tie the book together. Instead, I felt that since the book failed to revolve around any dessert, a rarity, they just picked one they thought sounded good (which didn’t).

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

The story itself was good, and the mystery interesting as we have to figure out why someone would have killed Willa. I think that it was easily solved, but in a good way, rather than feeling lazy or stupid.

likeit

The only qualm I have with Hannah in this book is that she really seems to use Norman a lot, and he takes it like a doormat.

neverlovesomeonewhotreatsyouordinary

I think that out of all the books, this one shows how right her boyfriend Norman is for her, than her other boyfriend Mike. Mike is too controlling, in the sense that he is a cop and cannot allow vigilanteism, not to mention the ego-burst of having your girlfriend be better at solving these crimes. The opposite of this is Norman, who doesn’t care about her investigating as he enjoys jumping in with her. He also is amazingly sweet in how he takes care of her cat, treating it as if it was Hannah’s sick baby. In fact, in this book more than any other, I could see Norman and Hannah happily married, a Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest.

Tommy-and-Tuppence-1923

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

For more book reviews, go to A Change of Fortune

Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swenson #8) by Joanne Fluke

So Lake Eden is up for quite a few interesting weeks. It’s headed for stardom as it will be the set for an independent film.

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So this book starts out a bit different from the others. We have a flash forward told by a different narrator than Hannah; cruel, rude, and hated by everyone: Director Dean Lawrence. As he acts out a scene for the actors; taking the unloaded prop gun to his head; he shoots it. And himself.

gunshooting

So we flashback to before that all happened,

flashback

Hannah’s double proposal from Mike and Norman have torn the town apart. People are split between which they believe Hannah should marry; and are not above using any pull they have to try and sway Hannah’s opinion.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Hannah on the other hand will not be swayed. Instead she determines that she will propose to her choice when she is ready to marry, and when she knows who she wants to marry.

That time is a long way off...

That time is a long way off…

But the town is not focused on her for long, as the film coming to town has set up an epidemic of movie mania. Hannah is hired to cater dessert for the crew, along with a cheesecake every morning to the director, Dean Lawrence.

cookingfood

To make things even more complicated, an old friend and crush, Ross Barton, has come to town to produce the film. He starts wanting to revitalize the relationship, but Hannah’s not sure whether or not to start one.

Who done it?

Should I?

Dean Lawrence turns out to be one of the most difficult people to work with. He is cruel, rude, antagonistic, and constantly groping and harassing all the women in town.

jerk-gif

When Dean acts out a part to show an actor what he desires, winding up dead; Hannah and her crew have a lot of suspects to choose from. Lead actress, and old friend, Lynne Larchmont has the temperament to kill and could have chosen to remove him in order to be more in charge of the film or because of a possible romantic relationship.

laurenbacallsuspiciousfemefataleevilbad

Tom Larchmont, Lynne’s husband, is smitten enough to be deadly jealous.

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Then there is Ross who has constantly been burdened with having to keep Dean in check, did he have enough?

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

Or on of the locals, Winnie Henderson, who publicly threatened to kill Dean?

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Or how about star Burke Aston who argued with Dean the morning of the murder?

Hannah finds herself in a time crunch as she and her friends must solve the crime before the movie production wraps up and leaves town.

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Thoughts After Reading:

**Contains Spoilers**

I didn’t really care for this novel. I thought it was too easily solved and silly at times.

IDon'tlikeit

First of all, I hated the whole Mike-Norman aftermath. I found it stupid and unnecessary to include all these scenes of people trying to convince her to marry in order to save the dentist or save the deputy. I have never lived in a town the size of Lake Eden so I don’t know of they react that way; but really? Like they can’t get new people to fulfill those positions. Shouldn’t these people who are her “friends” care more about her happiness than what will inconvenience them?

seriously

Plus I am sooooo sick of the love triangle in this. It is so clear that Norman should be the one she is with.

Ijustwantittostop

I didn’t like the entrance of Ross and the switch to a confusion rhombus instead of a love triangle. I thought that was also unnecessary. His “pining” for Hannah over four years (overlapping the time he was in a serious relationship, engaged, with Lynne) was over the top. I mean it just sounds like a whole pack of lines, seriously Hannah I thought you were smarter than that.

really?

I also hate how extremely advanced they make Tracey. She taught herself to read at 3 and a half years old? And now can read at a 5th grade level? What’s next? She has magic powers like Matilda and is righting wrongs?

Norman is clearly the guy Hannah should choose. Unlike Mike who has all kinds of bluster and such; Norman cares deeply about Hannah and her happiness alone. He asks her if he has anything to worry about; and just accepts the answer that Hannah will let him know if he does. Norman takes it like a man, and just tells her he loves her. Awesome. Amazing.

And the constant corrections Hannah does. It is so annoying! If Hannah was my friend I would say see ya. Who wants to be around someone who is always correcting you. Rude. And irritating.

jerk_alert32

I can’t believe how rude and annoying Mike is. When someone arrives home tired and has to get up at five the next morning, who decides to stay while they sleep eating their food and drinking their coffee? Rude. He should have just left. That would have been the gentlemanly thing to do.

How rude

The Bill cheating subplot os dumb as well. Really? She thinks him leaving behind a pink shirt from his conference is proof of cheating? Why do they make characters so dumb? Would any intelligent and rational being act that way? And why does she talk so poorly? She is a real estate agent, intelligent, logical, always having to talk to others; she would know how to talk eloquently.

doesn'tmakesense

The worst thing about this mystery was how easily it was solved. Yes, everyone knows that Dean would act out the scene in how he thinks it should be. But Only one person could make that happen. Only one person could control him taking the gun, and that would be Burke. Burke is the only one who could have gotten the gun in Dean’s hand; the big clue being when he suddenly sucks and asks for assistance.

duh

And why do Hannah and Co. think that giving a tip to the police to solve a murder, the thing they are supposed to do, as a bad thing. That is incredibly dumb. Come on guys, you aren’t real detectives and you can’t arrest anyone. While your playacting as detectives is alright, it isn’t real.

seriously

And why is Hannah such an expert on random facts? Their input never makes any sense. She is like Encyclopedia Brown except not as fun or useful.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

I hate how in this book they have to explain soooo much about acting. I feel like if Hannah knows all these famous plays from her one literature class on plays, she would have learned about stage directions and what they mean, after all they are written in the plays. I know they do it in case of readers who know nothing, but it still is boring.

im_bored_himym

To summarize, I did not like it.

IDon'tlikeit

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteriesgo to Peach Cobbler Murder

For more love triangles, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

Sugar Cookie Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery in our Christmas countdown?!

christmas-bells

I give you:

Sugar Cookie Murder

Sugar Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #6) by Joanne Fluke

So like that other Hannah Swensen holiday mystery, Candy for Christmas, I didn’t like this one. This book cemented my dislike for the Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries.

IDon'tlikeit

Why you may ask? Well I’ll tell you.

So this book has an interesting premise. In Lake Eden it is the annual Christmas buffet.

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This year things are a bit different as they are running the final test of the Lake Eden recipes for the Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook.

joker-yum

Recently divorced Martin Dubinski just got married in Las Vegas and to a Vegas showgirl type woman, Brandi; all about the fur, glitter, and lack of manners.

showgirls

Many people dislike her; including the former Mrs. Shirley Dubinski who wants Martin back and Martin’s mother Babs.

Not-Good

In other news, Hannah main rival for Mike’s affections, Shawna Lee Quinn is on her way out of town. Great news for Hannah, but also sad as Mike is taking her to the airport and will be missing out on most of the great party.

poutsad

Meanwhile, Hannah is not very happy about the romance between her mother Delores, and some Englishman, Winthrop the III.

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Part of her doesn’t like her mom moving on, while the other half doesn’t trust him.

Things seem to be going great at the Christmas buffet. Music, dancing, Mike and Norman; but then Delores’ donated antique knife is stolen.

What?

Hannah searches everywhere, and finds it. In Brandi’s dead body.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

Whoever killed her returned to the community center; and with the storm ranging outside it is up to them to find the killer before they strike again!

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Thoughts After Reading:

While the premise sounds good; killer in a locked building and they have to figure it out before they strike again, but it just falls flat.

horrible

The mystery’s resolution was seriously lacking.

And I seriously believe this book was just an avenue to promote her holiday recipes, a trap every one of her “holiday tales” seems to fall into. I give it zero stars.

thumbsdown

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For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Sinister Sprinkles

For more reviews, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swenson #5)

So I know you guy think I just like to hate on Joanne Fluke.

Hate her that's so raven

But that’s not true.

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I just don’t like subpar writing. When it’s bad, I’m going to call you out on it. When it’s good, I will also point that out. And while I haven’t liked the first four mysteries, I actually enjoyed this.

likeit

So back in Blueberry Muffin Murder, Hannah Swensen discussed having a Lake Eden cookbook full of recipes only known to them. Well in this book, the Lake Eden Cookbook is in the middle of becoming a reality.

Besides The Cookie Jar, Hannah has taken on a temporary side job teaching cooking at the community college. As Lake Eden is getting ready to create a cookbook of family recipes, Hannah feels that there is no better opportunity than to have the class prepare the submitted recipes.

cookingfood

And there is no time like the present. It is days from Halloween, but all recipes must be typed, tested, photographed, etc.; in time for the cookbook to be completed and ready to be sold at Christmas.

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Hannah is enjoying her new jobs as cooking teacher and head of the cookbook, when she is approached by her friend Beatrice. Beatrice asks her to include the Fudge Cupcakes that her mother-in-law was famous for. Only one problem, there is a secret ingredient, and with the mother-in-law dead, no one knows what it could possibly be.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Well, Hannah likes solving mysteries, and at least this one doesn’t have a dead body in it, so she begins working on trying to find the missing piece to the puzzle.

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In other news, Hannah’s sister Andrea is pregnant and her husband Bill is running for Sheriff. Sheriff Grant has been running the town for years, and when polls come out with him in the low numbers, he starts to pick up his game to get more support.  He approaches Hannah outside the center, and she gives him a cupcake, along with a promise that Bill will win.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

Hannah then goes on to a productive day in class. The group cooks up a whole mess of recipes and solve some elusive handwriting. Hannah still doesn’t know the ingredient for the cupcakes, but hasn’t given up yet.

gotthis

That night, Mike picks her up for dinner, helping her clean up the kitchen first. She goes out to the dumpster to throw away the garbage and discovers a body. And not just any body, but Sheriff Grant.

AAAAHHHHH

Now Bill is suspended as he is the prime suspect and Hannah finds herself on the case.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

This proves to be difficult, as Sheriff Grant was a hated man, hated almost by EVERYONE. Could he have been killed by a deputy for having stolen their “prime cases” in election years? Could he have been killed by someone he wrote up for absolutely nothing? Could it have been connected to the death of his son? Or could be for some other reason? And most importantly, what is the secret ingredient in the fudge cupcakes?!

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thought After Reading:

So let’s start with the cupcake mystery. I first thought it was going to be annoying and distracting. Not to mention cruel to have Fluke make us wait so long to find out the answer, but it actually added to the story. It made you read more as you wanted to know what the ingredient is. And the cupcake sounds so good, I will be making them in the future.

chocolate-cupcake

Now I do hate the Mike storyline. Mike is the worst detective ever. He actually thinks that Bill, Bill who couldn’t plan his way out of a paper bag could murder Sheriff Grant? Bill is stupid, but honest. The only way he would murder anyone was on accident, turning himself in. Come on Mike, get your head out of your butt.

seriously

I mean they act like Mike is such a great detective, but he’s as dumb as rocks.

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

And it is clear that Hannah and Mike would not work long term as in every book she gets incredibly angry at him. Just break up already and get with Norman.

seriously

Shawna Lee Quinn comes to town, a recent plant and old friend of Mike. She is eager to be a new friend and is further proof that Mike is not right for Hannah. Dump that chump!

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Once again they also make Tracey act way too old.  And there is not enough Norman in here.

But on a whole I enjoyed the book. The mystery was easily solvable, once you were given all the clues, but it was a pretty good story.

likeit

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For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries, go to The Princess Plot

Blueberry Muffin Murder

BlueberryMuffinMurder

Blueberry Muffin Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #3) by Joanne Fluke

This is the third book in the series following Hannah Swenson, ex-English Literature major and now owner of cookie shop, The Cookie Jar, in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She accidentally runs into dead bodies, or people ask her to investigate, causing her to solve crimes before the police even have a smidgen of a clue.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

It’s late February and things are pretty slow. Christmas and News Years? Parties galore and business is booming. With Valentine’s Day, another flurry of activity. But once that’s over it’s dead. Snow, cold, and nothing until Easter.

im_bored_himym

So this year, the city decided to do something different to bring in tourist and boost the economy. This year marked the first annual Lake Eden Winter Carnival.

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The Jordan High School shop class redid old sleighs to give sleigh rides. Hannah’s mother Delores helped the Historical Society create a full-scale replica of the first mayor’s house, Ezekiel Jordan. And of course Hannah, is one of the many people who has a booth for her business.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

As she is heading out to her shop, a guy attacks her from behind warning her to get against the wall or else she will be killed!!!!

Ahh-1

It turns out to be an old friend, Greg Canfield. Greg had moved back a few years ago and opened an import store at the Tri-County Mall. His store closed down recently, and after he sold his house he moved in with his grandmother (who lives in the same condo building as Hannah). He was out that morning and thought he’d pull a prank on his old pal. Greg leaves to get back to his stock trading, he’s making a bundle on the company Redlines and Hannah heads over to her shop.

cookies

Hannah’s friend Lisa, has recently become her partner, and has been busy at work baking and dressing the window for the Winter Carnival.

It turns out that the Winter Carnival is going to bring much more to town. Connie MacIntyre, the star of the hit cooking show Cooking With Connie Mac, has come to town. She has numerous books, a string of kitchen boutique stores, a monthly magazine, etc.

With Connie Mac, comes Janie Burkholtz, Connie’s personal assistant, and Hannah’s sister Andrea’s very best friend. Looks like the Winter Carnival is going to be loads of fun.

wrong

The Mayor asks Hannah to drive Connie Mac around town and Hannah agrees as she figures it will be fun.

thiswillbeeasy

Andrea comes over to speak to Hannah and when she hears all about Hannah giving the tour, and of course invites herself along. Hannah agrees as she thinks it will make a boring situation more interesting.

The girls reach the inn where Connie Mac is staying and meet a grade-A jerk.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

She is rude, cruel and picky about how everything has to be. From her salad to pressing of her clothes, nothing is ever quite right and must have a thousand details done to it.

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The first stop is the library, where Connie will be signing her cookbooks, along with raising awareness for the library and the programs offered there. However, Connie doesn’t care about the library, all she wants is the money and publicity and she sure doesn’t want to be at the back of the building, but in the lobby.

Then she decides the best sleigh shouldn’t be used for the Winter Royalty, but what she should ride in on.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

I guess that is correct, as she is a royal pain.

Sorry, had to do it.

Sorry, had to do it.

After they iron out that detail they go on to the school kitchen to talk about the big banquet they are going to have. Connie manipulates people to get what she wants, and succeeds every time. She wants her cake to be on the pedestals reserved for the crown of the Winter Prince & Princess. Edna, the school cook, is very against it, until Connie promises to gift them a dinner set for 200, including glassware, silver, and tablecloths.

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Hannah can see right through everything and thinks Connie is just plan rude. She also thinks that her show is nothing special, as it seems presentation heavy over tasty.

Hannah leaves Andrea with Connie and heads back to the The Cookie Jar. There she makes some blueberry muffins, using frozen berries instead of real ones as Minnesota in February, there is no way she is getting fresh. That’s one great thing about living on the West Coast, fresh fruit all year long.

That afternoon Hannah receives a frantic call from Janie. It turns out that the van carrying Connie Mac’s Winter Carnival Cake was ruined when the car went into a ditch. And she needs a place to to cook a replacement. They want to use The Cookie Jar.

Its-Not-Going-to-Happen-Mean-Girls

Hannah does not want Connie Mac in her kitchen, and suggests other places; but it turns out none are available, the only place it can happen in is Hannah’s.

thisisbad

Against her better judgement, Hannah agrees.

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Besides cooking there, Norman will be taking Connie Mac’s picture as well. So it can be immortalized forever that Connie Mac cooked at the Cookie Jar.

well that's just great anchorman

That night as everyone is bringing stuff in for Connie Mac, Hannah tells Lisa to take the morning off. Before Hannah leaves, she lets Janie know that there are blueberry muffins in the pantry. Janie wants some, but Connie Mac has forbidden her to have sweets as she “needs to lose 20 pounds”. She doesn’t really need to, but Connie is rude and a jerk.

Norman and Hannah both leave and Norman is just as angry at Connie as Hannah. Connie is clearly super at making enemies. You all know what that means.

Murder

Norman invites Hannah to dinner, but she refuses, wanting to rest. Unfortunately, Bill is working late, and since Janie can no longer meet her and with Andrea all alone; Hannah is convinced to go out. It turns out Bill does come and brings Mike. The perfect set-up.

eyebrowsbowchickawowwow

The next day Hannah goes to her shop and finds it a huge mess.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

The door is open. Flour is everywhere! Mixing bowls are filled with dry batter. Sticky spoons, beaters, and other utensils spatter the kitchen. Burning cake in the oven!

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Her shop is a total mess and could have burnt to the ground!!!! What is Connie Mac’s deal? How could she have done this?!!!

As Hannah begins cleaning, she spots Connie’s handbag. Along with her coat. Janie was gone, her car, coat, etc. So….

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

Connie must never have left. As Hannah looks in the store she finds her. Dead by a blow to the head, mid muffin bite.

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And a blow on the back of a head means only one thing:

Murder

Mike and Bill come and close off Hannah’s shop. Indefinitely, until the murderer is caught. This becomes a huge part of the storyline as Hannah is angry with Mike for being so stubborn and not letting her come back. Now this really bothers me, as can the police really do that? It seems in shows that they don’t keep a place of business or residence forever.

So I looked it up, and it turns out that the police can keep a place as long as they want, however they choose to revert it back to the owner as soon as possible. So there you go, Mike is just a big ol’ jerk and I hate him.

IDon'tlikeit

Moving on. Not only is Hannah locked out from her own kitchen, but she is forbidden to speak to any Connie Mac employee as Mike doesn’t want her meddling. They suspect Janie as being the murderer, but Mike knows that Hannah will refuse to accept that and try to find who she believes the “real murderer is.”

And of course Hannah does not listen.

See ya Mike

See ya Mike

She goes to the Inn and talks to Sally. There she finds out that EVERYONE hated Connie and all have reasons to kill her. All the maids at the Inn hate her; Connie fired the delivery truck driver;  she threatened to fire her long-time lawyer, Alan Carpenter; Paul, her husband, was cheating on her; he keeps postponing her book, and Kurt Howe, her publisher, is looking at getting fired if he can get her to commit; etc. Plus there is always money, the Connie Mac empire is enormous, and whoever inherits will be getting a lot of moolah.

WhoDoneIt?

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Thoughts after reading:

This was an okay book. I thought the mystery was so-so and the investigation kind of blah.

eh

At one point Mike is convinced Norman killed Connie because she made a difficult photo shoot. Really? Really?

stupidestthingever

This was dumb. Come on, Mike. Get your head out of your butt. Dumb. Why are the two cops so stupid in this series? I mean really. Come on son.

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And they spend a long time talking about ice fishing. Really? Really?

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

And it turns out the reason Paul, Connie’s husband, was trying to get close to Janie is that he is secretly her biological father. It was pretty obvious and overdramatic.

nobodycares

So not horrible, but not fantastic. Just okay.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Strawberry Shortcake Murder

For more Midwestern Mysteries, go to Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to The Barter

Candy for Christmas

CandyforChristmas

Candy for Christmas (Hannah Swenson Mystery #1.5) by Joanne Fluke

This is a short story mystery that takes place sometime after the first novel. I didn’t enjoy it, but like show biz, the review must go on.

It’s wintertime and almost Christmas in Lake Eden. One day Hannah heads out to her bakery when she discovers the lights on in the building.

That'sOdd

Her business partner, Lisa, wasn’t scheduled to come in today, but maybe she decided to anyway. It is far too cold to hang outside so Hannah heads in.

When she gets inside she finds that her bakery has been cleaned, and whoever did it left behind candy.

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Hannah is pleased with this modern Elves and the Shoemakers, but at the same time is not happy with it. Who could have done this? Why would they?

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That night Hannah and Norman head to the bakery to check out who could be in there. When they arrive at the bakery they spot a young girl. Apparently “Candy” has run away from home. She’s been hiding out in different places, such as Hannah’s bakery.

They don’t get much out of the girl, but Hannah decides to give her a room in her condo and a job in her bakery. Unknowning to Candy; Hannah, Norman, and Andrea all band toogether to figure out who she really is.

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I didn’t enjoy this story at all.

Idon'tthinkso Idontseeit

I can see why the author wanted to right something different, and something that didn’t have murder but this was too scmaltzy and boring.

im_bored_himym

It really seemed just a conduit to include more Christmas recipes than create an interesting story.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

I also thought their involvement in finding her parents was wrong. They shouldn’t have told them about Candy and bring them without letting Candy know. What if she had a valid reason for running away? What is she was being abused, molested, or worse?

seriously

This story is a dud. A complete waste.

thumbsdown

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

For more midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

chocolatechipcookiemurder

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #1)

So this is the first book in the series but not the first I read. I was introduced to the Hannah Swenson Mysteries by Apple Turnover Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #13)And I am glad I did because if I read this book first, I probably would have quit the series.

IDon'tlikeit

Yeah this book was a clunker. I thought it was messy, the characters unrealistic, and the mystery too easy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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So the book starts off by introducing us to Hannah Swenson. Hannah is in her 30s and was studying English Lit at school. While she was in the midst of going for her masters, she has a bad experience at school and her father dies.

well that's just great anchorman

She heads back to her small town, (Lake Eden, Minnesota) , to help her family out, starts a coffee and cookie shop, buys a condo, and adopts a huge orange cat. Things seem to be going good as she is building her business and life.

BigBangTheoryMyliferightnow

Her only thorn? Her mother’s constant drive to marry her off. She is constantly setting her up with men, the latest being the son of her best friend, Norman Rhodes D.D.S. Hannah has barely met him but is rude and judgmental toward him. She thinks he is a loser because he is a dentist and therefore must be obsessed with teeth. And he is horribly ugly because he is balding. How rude Hannah. Like you’re such a prize with your constant judging and criticizing people.

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Besides just because he is a dentist doesn’t mean that’s all he thinks about. For real girl you need to give him credit that he is a person with actual thoughts and feelings rather than thinking he is the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

And it’s not like he wants to be balding or can control it. Jeez, girl! I’m sure he wishes he has a full head of hair too.

seriously

Anyways, it’s an average day for Hannah. She’s heading over to open her store and passes Ron LaSalle, a deliverer for the local dairy farm. Ron LaSalle is a loyal customer buying a box of cookies every morning.

Hannah also runs into her friend Claire, the owner of the fancy boutique shop and Hannah’s next-door business neighbor. Claire convinces Hannah to come over and shop for a dress, but Hannah doesn’t want to wear one. She is one of those cliché characters that hates dressing up/doesn’t realize how pretty they are/don’t understand why women act they way they do/etc. I’m really tired of that character and wish authors would stop writing it and do something new.

IDon'tlikeit

Andrea, Hannah’s sister, comes by and drops her daughter off with Hannah while she gets her hair done. Now this is where I have a huuuuuuuuuuge problem. Andrea’s daughter Tracey is great in the later books but in this one she is only four but conversing like a twelve year old! Now I’ve known a lot of four-year olds, and even the precocious ones DO NOT speak that well. I don’t think this author has been around real children if she writes her that focused and well-behaved.

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Anyways, so Tracey saw Ron outside in his car and thinks it is weird. Hannah assumes that Ron is having car trouble and goes out to check when she discovers that he is dead!

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

And not just dead but:

Murder

Ron was shot in the head.

Hannah’s brother-in-law, Andrea’s husband, is a deputy with the Sheriff’s department and is heading up the investigation. He gets Hannah’s statement, and while they are discussing what happened, Hannah realizes something important. Ron was behind schedule. This is really odd as Ron was a stickler for being on time.

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Bill then asks Hannah to help with the investigation, as he wants to solve the case and get promoted to detective.

Now here is where I have a huge problem again. There’s no way as a law enforcement he would ask for help in his investigation from a civilian! Come on!

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And to be honest, if he can’t solve it than he doesn’t deserve the promotion.

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He should be telling her not to investigate as she is a civilian.

Now I’m not saying that I do not want her to investigate, I love stories with amateurs, it’s just that there is no way a cop would ask a civilian for help. No way!

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Anyways, at a catering event at the school she discovers that when Ron dropped off the milk, he had a women with him. Apparently the school leaves coffee for him every morning, and when the secretary came to clean it up she found two cups, one of which had lipstick on it.

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Hannah and Bill set out to track it down, with Hannah finding it being sold by an Avon-like woman. There she discovers that the lipstick belongs to Danielle Watson.

Hannah meets up with Danielle later and discovers that she is a gambler going to Gambler’s Anonymous and that Ron was her sponsor. She received a check from her stocks and headed over the casino, running into Ron who was passing out GA flyers. He got her out of there, following her home to make sure she was safe, and the two went to his apartment to talk and make sure she didn’t give in again. He got up late and took Danielle with him on his deliveries.

Hannah also finds out that Ron had a toothache and was going to the dentist that day. She calls around seeing who worked on him, ending up with Norman Rhodes. She tries to ask him questions, but he refuses as he wants to see her in person to discuss everything.

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That afternoon Hannah finds herself being manipulated again, giving into Claire and purchasing the gown picked, planning on wearing it to the Woodley’s annual party.

So Hannah and Andrea head over to have lunch with Norman, Hannah planning on keeping his attention while Andrea snoops. Hannah discovers that Ron got his tooth taken care of , but even more interesting is that Norman is a funny, sweet, nice guy. She agrees to go with him to the Woodley party.

Hannah continues her investigations and discovers that Danielle’s husband Boyd has been dropping a lot of cash on glitzy gifts, too much for his job as a high school football coach. She also discovers that he was gone for the window of the murder. Could he be the killer?

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Hannah and Lisa decide to go investigate the casino where Ron was passing out GA flyers as he got into a fight with a bouncer. While there we get this long rant on how stupid gambling is and how Hannah doesn’t understand the drive for it. Or the superstitions that people have. Another cliché as guess who wins the grand prize, her of course. I understand not liking gambling or believing that one should do it, but not understanding the draw? Come on, everyone knows what draws people in, is the hope for winning!

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Then we get a flashback as Hannah reminisces about her and her sister’s lives growing up and how things changed when she went to college. Here is where we get the whole story of why Hannah left. She had a fling with her professor, only to discover that he didn’t love her but was actually engaged to be married, his fiancee walking in on them.

AAAAHHHHH

Hannah goes to the Woodley party and has a lot of fun with Norman. Unfortunately, Benton Woodley, son, heir, Andrea’s ex-boyfriend, and the bane of Hannah’s existence is back in town. He says he missed the small town experience and loves Lake Eden, but something is fishy to Hannah. He always hated being here before and swore never to come back.

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At the party, Hannah talks to the dairy secretary, Betty, to get more info on Ron and finds out that Max, the supervisor is missing. He was supposed to go to a convention and give a speech, but he never checked in and no one has seen or heard from him. Could Max have killed Ron for some reason and gone on the run?

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Hannah mentions Max to Norman and discovers he can’t stand the guy. It turns out that Norman’s father, who was also a dentist, needed money to get improvements for his practice but all the banks turned him down. Max lent him the money, if the Rhodes put their house up for collateral. The Rhodes took the deal and when they were only one payment away from owning their house, Max called in the full loan. Luckily, Norman was able to get a loan from a bank, which he gave his parents, who paid Max. But clearly Max was a shark up to no good. But, is he a killer?

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Hannah decides that of they can’t get the answers they need from Max, as no one can find him, that she is going to break into his house. Andrea comes with her and the two break into the garage first. There they find Max’s car, with everything needed for his trip to the convention. Odd, as that must mean he didn’t leave. They check his house but there is no sign of him. Hannah steals his keys and decides the two need to set out to check the dairy.

When they get to the dairy, they find nothing. Hannah has not given up yet and decides to check out the remains of the old dairy. The building was burned and rebuilt with only one section of the original left. They head over there and find Max…Dead

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They also find his stash of loans. This means someone killed him over it, but who? And how is Ron connected? Did he see something? Did he walk in on them?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. The characters were all bland and generic Midwestern clichés. The main character was annoying, judgmental, cocky, and rude.

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The police were incompetent, but what made it really sad was that they knew they were incompetent. I mean it is funny to see them match wits when the police officer is arogant and totally missing something, or, as in Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple; over time and succesful stream of solved mysteries they realize that this is someone much smarter and one they should work with. But when someone is incompetent and knows it, asking for help to get PROMOTED when they clearly stated before that they were not ready as THEY CAN’T DO IT ON THEIR OWN BUT NEED HELP FROM AN ENGLISH LIT AND COOKIE BAKER (that’s right, she doesn’t even read mystery novels, or teach psychology, or do something slightly relevant) it is just sad, just sad indeed.

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The mystery was extremely obvious as to what they answer is. Now it is one thing if you have a mystery where it is easily solved, but the characters are fun and adorable so you don’t care. This was neither, it was just a disappointment. And the recipes weren’t all that intriguing either.

This one was a stinker, but some of the later ones are actually really good. I guess you just have to decide how invested do you want to get.

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For the previous book review, go to The Emperor’s Edge

For more Midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted