Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, fun characters, delicious recipes
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Political fight
Murder, danger, and baked goods
Enjoy a fun plot

The Ultimate in Dirty Politics

Fudge Cupcake Murder is the fifth volume in the best selling Hannah Swensen Mystery series. Hannah owns her own bakery, The Cookie Jar in the fictional town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Even though she lives in a small town, she seems to keep stumbling over dead bodies and finding the killers.

Hannah's life is very full. Not only is she juggling the demands of running her shop, but her brother-in-law, Bill, is running for sheriff in a very tight race and she's trying to organize the recipes for the Lake Eden cookbook.

One night, as she's taking the trash out after her potluck cooking class (a convenient way to test all the recipes to make sure they're right before the book goes to print), she finds the body of Sheriff Grant in the dumpster. Now Bill is suspended from work because he's a suspect, and Hannah must clear him by finding the killer before he drives the very pregnant Andrea crazy cleaning out their house. This also adds major complications to Hannah's romantic relationship with Bill's partner Mike.

Meanwhile, her mother is acting strangely. What can she be hiding? And Hannah needs to get her cat to eat his senior cat food. To top it all, she's searching for the missing ingredient in Mrs. Koester's fudge cupcake recipe so it can make the cookbook. Can Hannah juggle all these competing demands and find the killer?

Needless to say, there's never a dull moment in this book. There are a few times when the murder investigation seems to stall briefly, but the other sub-plots take up the slack. Frankly, I hardly noticed because there is so much else happening. The mystery does progress well, with an ending I figured out a little before Hannah, but not by much.

All the characters we've come to love are back, and it's definitely a wonderful visit with old friends. The fact that we care so much about what happens to these characters makes every sub-plot important to the reader. And every character is well developed with strengths and weaknesses. For example, while Hannah is persistent, she also lacks tact. It's things like this that make the characters so endearing.

And, as always there are the recipes. This book contains 10 delicious recipes to enjoy. I've tried two of them here. The title recipe is a must for chocolate lovers, and the apple orchard bars are delicious as well.

A word about the title recipe. The first edition contains an error. It should read 1 1/2 teaspoons baking POWDER not baking soda. This has been fixed in all the other editions. So if you have a first edition, you have an extra special collector's edition. But you might want to make a note on this before you make the dessert.

Is it possible to get the warm fuzzies from a murder mystery? If so, this is the series to do it. If you like your murder served cozy, look no further then Fudge Cupcake Murder.

And if you want to find others in the series, here's the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.

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