Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #19)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, decent mystery, a wedding!
Cons: Food talk, while relevant, still overwhelms at times
The Bottom Line:
Wedding, cooking comp
Complicated by murder
Fans will eat it up

Hannah Must Solve a Murder Before She Can Get Married

I’m going to start this review with a spoiler warning.  No, not because I’m going to spoil Wedding Cake Murder in my review.  But the fact that Hannah Swensen is getting married is big news for fans of the series, and I will be discussing her choice of groom in my review, so if you don’t know and you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

We’re good?  Then let’s move on to discuss this book.

Hannah has a busy few weeks ahead of her.  Not only is she getting married in just three short weeks, but the dessert competition she’s entered on the Food Network has been moved up and will now take place just before her wedding.  Fortunately, her mother and sisters are running with the wedding planning, so all Hannah has to focus on is the dessert challenge.

However, that’s not as sweet as it sounds since there is tension between the contestants and the judges that involves more than just worry over the scores.  While Hannah and her sister Michelle are having their practice round one morning, they stumble over a dead body connected to the competition.  Will the murder distract Hannah from the competition?  Can she solve the murder before the suspects all leave town?

Obviously, with the baking competition, there is lots of talk of food.  Unlike some books where I feel this gets in the way of the story, it feels like a part of things, so I enjoyed it.  After all, Hannah and Michelle do need to decide what they are baking and test it out.  I did still feel like it over shadowed the murder a bit at times, but it wasn’t as much of an issue as in some books.

Yes, there is a murder, and there are a viable number of suspects.  I didn’t figure out who the killer was until Hannah did, and I must say the climax was a nice twist on the traditional killer confrontation scene, although Hannah was fairly stupid for part of it.

With the baking competition set up, we don’t see quite as much of some of the series regulars, but they do get at least cameos.  It’s always fun to hang out with these friends again.  The new characters are interesting and viable suspects in the murder.

Which brings us to the wedding.  (I didn’t realize I’d take this long to get to it.)  Yes, there is a wedding in this book.  And those who were upset by the love triangle being resolved with a none of the above choice will probably still be upset.  Mike and Norman are both in the book, and I must say I found their part in the book to be a bit laughable.  On the other hand, I really do like Ross, Hannah’s fiancĂ©e.  In fact, since Hannah obviously couldn’t decide between Mike and Norman, this was a great way to go.  Yes, the wedding is definitely rushed, but I am looking forward to seeing their relationship grow as the series continues.

Of course, there are recipes – more so than any other book I’ve found in the culinary cozy realm.  By my count, we get 18 (not counting the frostings separately).  Since Hannah is a cookie baker, we get plenty of those, but we also get other dishes and desserts.  They all sound mouthwatering.  The ones I made from earlier books were as delicious as they sounded, and I really need to get motivated to start baking again.

I think series fans will be happy overall with Wedding Cake Murder.  If you are new to the series, back track and work your way up to this lovely addition.

And if you need to back track, here are the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.


  1. I'm so glad to see the love triangle resolved. I'm not big on them at the best of times and this one has definitely drug on for far too long. I think going with a none of the above choice is a good idea too. This one sounds like a fun read. I love the idea of the dessert competition and seriously 18 recipes?? That's impressive!

    1. I think four books is about my max on love triangles, but less than that is much better.

      The series started out with a typical half dozen or so recipes, but as the series has progressed, the number of recipes has great increased, so that is actually typical of the series.

  2. Not reading your review yet. Thanks for the warning! I have quite a way to go in the series before this one. Glad to see that the series is still holding up well.

    1. It's readers like you that made me put that spoiler warning there. I don't want to ruin things for people who care, but for those who have read everything but this book, I want to address some things.

  3. Glad to hear the love triangle is resolved, but I stopped thinking of it as a love triangle books ago, I figured it was more a friendship triangle. I was wondering is he the guy that showed up briefly in one of the earlier books? I will have to go look and see.

    1. Maybe if I viewed it as a Friendship triangle, I would have been more okay with a couple of minor things in this book. I like that way of viewing it, that's for sure.

    2. My question is, did Hannah ever discuss her choice of Ross with Norm or Mike? After all these years with this triangle, I'd at least think she owed them that. Did I miss a book or something?

    3. I just assumed those conversations took place between books.

  4. This is a series I still have book one wishlisted!

  5. I've almost given up on this series a few times for two reasons: the never-ending amount of recipes that would sometimes take over and overwhelm the storyline, and the never-ending love triangle. But, like the long-running series junkie that I am, I kept coming back for the characters. It's nice to hear that both of those issues have been addressed, although I may find it hard to give up my position on "Team Norman"!