Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Genre: Cozy mystery
From my TBR list?: Yes
Available on audio?: Yes
Book #1 of an ongoing series (11 books so far
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Summary: Hannah Swenson, a baker in a small Minnesota town, turns into an amateur sleuth when the town's milkman is killed behind her shop. She has two reasons to get involved: she wants to help her policeman brother-in-law get promoted to detective, and she wants to protect her shop's reputation. The milkman was found with her special cookies scattered around his body!
This is a light mystery set in a small town where the main character, Hannah Swenson, is loved by everyone and her cookies are treated like manna from heaven. The author's website is called MurderSheBaked, if that gives you any idea as to the tone. All it takes is a bag of Hannah's Chocolate Chip Crunch cookies to get the townspeople to spill their secrets to her. There is a bit of chick lit flavor to this novel, as well. Hannah is not a grandmother, but a smart young woman who was a few credits away from a graduate degree when she came home to help her mother when her father died. She has a forthright manner that is just shy of being snarky, which may explain why her mother has trouble setting her up with the available men in town.
Recently I wrote about jarring tech references in books, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a perfect example. The copyright on the book says 2000, but there are references to pagers. Who was still using a pager in 2000? There was also something about waiting days for a printout from a company. Um, how about a fax or an email attachment? No one in the book has a cell phone, either. I'm sure that this sort of thing wouldn't bother anyone else, but it drove me nuts.
Silly aside: This is one of those books that I like to call a "novel plus". It includes recipes for all the cookies that Hannah plies her neighbors with to get information. With seven cookie recipes in the first book of the series, I was wondering how Fluke was going to find enough recipes for the rest of the books. After a visit to her website, I noticed that she has branched out into other baked goods in the later books so I guess she's safe.
This book wasn't bad, but I could see how someone like my mother-in-law (a devoted fan of shows like Murder She Wrote) might like it more than I did. I also think that this book would probably be more enjoyable on audio (most of the series available via iTunes). Unlike other series, I don't feel compelled to rush out and get the next book right away. I was more interested in Hannah's relationships with the townspeople than the mystery; if Fluke wrote a romance, I would probably read it. I might add the next few books of the Hannah Swensen series to the bottom of my TBR list, if only to see how Hannah ends up adding strawberry shortcake and blueberry muffins to her shop's menu.
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