Friday, January 25, 2019

Book Review - The Christmas Cake Murder

The Christmas Cake Murder
By:  Joanne Fluke
Published By:  Kensington Books
Published On:  September 25th, 2018
3 Stars

This installment of the Hannah Swensen mystery series takes us back in time to when Hannah’s dad has just died, Hannah has decided to drop out of her doctoral program, Andrea is pregnant with her and Bill’s first child, and Michelle is still in high school.  Hannah’s mom, Delores, is struggling to deal with her husband’s death and has holed herself up in her room.  At the same time one of Lake Eden’s beloved residents, Essie, has broken her hip and is in the hospital. While there, Essie keeps talking about her first Christmas Ball and how much she would like to go back and experience it again.  Two of Delores’s friends come up with an idea to help both women.  They ask Delores to help recreate the Christmas Ball that Essie is reminiscing about.  Delores agrees to help and enlists the help of her daughters.  Hannah is put in charge of baking the cakes.  It is here that her dream for opening the Cookie Jar starts to form.

Hannah doesn’t actually stumble upon a body in this book.  Instead, the murder takes place in a story within the story.  The story comes from notebooks the girls find in Essie’s apartment.  Each night the family sits down together and listens to Hannah read from the story.  It turns out to be a mystery and everyone is engrossed in it and can’t wait to see how it ends.  The problem is that Essie never finished the story.  It’s left to the girls to figure out what happens next.

In this story we see how the Cookie Jar comes to be.  It is Hannah’s dream, but Delores helps make it all come true.  One of Hannah’s complaints about her mom though is that she tries to take control of her life.  Delores takes some pretty big actions involving Hannah’s life in this story, but she doesn’t move forward with those ideas before checking with Hannah.  Hannah seems good with all that her mother is doing to help her create a life in Lake Eden.  Andrea doesn’t play prominently in this story, but we get the first inkling about her future realtor career. We see a fair amount of Lisa and Michelle, and it was fun to see how their younger selves acted.  Although it is much like their future selves.  Lisa’s mother is still alive in this story, but she is sick, and Lisa spends a lot of time with the Swensen family.  Many of Lake Eden’s secondary characters do not appear in this story, but that’s ok.  It is a great time to get to know the Swensens better.

I loved the story within the story in this book.  I’ve really enjoyed the past installments, but it was a good change up from Hannah always stumbling upon a body.  The story is intriguing and provides a much different setting than just Lake Eden.  Just like the Swensens, I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next.

And like always, there are some yummy recipes included.

Fans of cozy mysteries and cooking mysteries will enjoy this book.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #TheChristmasCakeMurder

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