Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book Review: Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #22)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters, delicious sound recipes
Cons: Weak mystery and ongoing soap opera
The Bottom Line:
Was latest victim
Intended target?  Cooking
Still takes center stage

Finally, a Poisoning!

I have long lobbied for Joanne Fluke to include poison as a means of murder in the Hannah Swensen series.  Come on, with the titles of the books being a different dessert, it just makes sense, right?  I don’t remember that happening before in the series, but it was finally the weapon of choice in Raspberry Danish Murder, not that the poison was in the Danishes, but I’ll take what I can get.

Before we go any further, I should warn you that my recap below will be spoiling the cliffhanger ending of the previous book.  There’s really no way around it since it plays into the mystery of this book.  However, my normal spoiler free policy for this book is still in effect.

It’s been two weeks since Hannah’s new husband Ross vanished.  In that time, she has had no word from him, and Mike has had no luck in tracking him down either.  While Hannah is still upset, she is having to focus on other things, like the baking The Cookie Jar will need to do for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Hannah’s sister Michelle is in town to direct a couple of plays over the holidays as part of her college course work.  She’s working with her friend P.K. at KCOW to do a couple of promos.  P.K. was working as Ross’s assistant, and now that Ross has vanished, he has taken over some of Ross’s work as well as Ross’s office.  One evening, P.K. is in an accident while driving, but it is quickly determined that the accident was caused by poisoned candies that P.K. ate.  The candies had been sent to the office, but the mailer was discarded, so no one knows if they were intended for P.K. or Ross.  With no real timeline to go on and two potential victims, it’s hard to know where to even begin this investigation.  Is this why Ross left town?  Can Hannah figure out what happened and where her husband is?

As you can see, there is a lot going on here, or there might be in a normal series.  Fans of this series know that we spend a ton of time talking food and recipes in the books these days, and this is the case here again as well.  That takes time away from fully fleshing out the plot, which I find disappointing.

Now this isn’t to say that we don’t wind up with some twists in the mystery of who committed this murder and why.  However, it would have been nice if more time had been spent fleshing that story out for us.  As it is, the ending, while it works, feels very rushed.

And we do get some interesting twists involving Ross (which may or may not tie into this book’s murder).  We also get another cliffhanger ending.  Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with it at all.

Fans of the series will certainly enjoy spending time with their favorite characters again.  There isn’t much development for any of them, but I absolutely enjoyed getting to see them all.

And if you can gain weight just from reading a book, this is certainly the book that will do that to you.  There are almost 30 delicious sounding recipes over the course of the book, most of them desserts or cookies of some kind.  Read this book before you start your new diet.  Trust me.

Sadly, I do feel like this series has lost the spark it had in the early days.  It’s not that Raspberry Danish Murder is bad, it’s just not as much fun as it once was.  Fans, like me, who want to follow the soap opera will want to read this one.  But there is nothing here to hook anyone on the series or change the minds of anyone who has given up on the series.

Fans will want to make sure they have read all of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.

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