Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #16)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Hannah and friends, good story wraps up the last book, too
Cons: Baking sometimes overwhelms mystery (although not as bad as previous books)
The Bottom Line:
Baking and murder
Delicious combo again
Will delight her fans

Falling Bodies and Cupcakes

The crime wave continues in Lake Eden.  Ever since Hannah Swensen first stumbled over a dead body next to one of her culinary creations, this dessert baker just keeps finding them.  Red Velvet Cupcake Murder is the latest addition to the series, and this small Minnesota town is one again a dangerous place.

It’s the grand opening of the renovated Albion Hotel, and Hannah’s The Cookie Jar is catering the desserts.  In honor of the Red Velvet lounge, she’s even baked some new red velvet cupcakes.

But the party turns to disaster when Barbara, the much loved secretary at the sheriff’s station, falls off the roof of the penthouse.  Or was she pushed?  When someone else turns up dead and Hannah finds herself the chief suspect, she must spring in to action to find the real killer.  Are these crimes even connected?

It is the characters that continue to make this series so fun.  Hannah and her family and friends are delightful.  Any rough edges they started the series with are fading; this is especially true for Hannah’s mother in this entry.

The plot can be a bit uneven at times as there is plenty of talk of baking.  However, it does start out quickly and move steadily toward the climax.  The pacing is certainly better than some of the previous books even if I did figure out a couple twists before Hannah did.  While I predicted the location of the climax early on, it still made me quickly turn the pages.  There were some loose threads from the last book that are resolved here as well in a sub-plot; I was thrilled to see that.

And yes, there is romance in the air.  No, the triangle involving the two men in Hannah’s life doesn’t change much, although it is obvious who the author thinks Hannah should chose.  Instead, Cupid’s arrow hits some other characters.  No real surprises for fans of the series, but it was still nice to see things progress.

Once again the book is filled with recipes.  By my count, there are 11 dessert recipes, mostly cookies, and 6 other recipes.  As always, they made me want to come out of retirement and dabble in baking again.  Why must that happen when I decide I need to lose 10 pounds?

Fans of this charming cozy series will continue to enjoy Hannah’s latest adventure.  Red Velvet Cupcake Murder is light and fluffy and a perfectly pleasant read.

Looking for more?  Check out the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.

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