Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Published February 2009 by Kensington Publishing
Source: borrowed this one from a friend
Bakery owner Hannah Swensen's mother is publishing a book and Hannah needs to be able to fit into a Regency dress for the book launch so her sister convinces her to begin dieting and exercising with her at the local mall's health club. Even though Hannah is used to waking up early and hitting the ground running, she's not used to hitting the treadmill running and she's not enjoying it a bit. Finding the body of the town hussy dead in the jacuzzi one morning doesn't help matters. Neither does the fact that her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Detective Mike Kingston, has been pulled off the case because of his "relationship" with the deceased. When her brother-in-law and other sister's boyfriend are also pulled from the case for the same reason, the three women team up to solve the mystery. Hannah's other on-again, off-again boyfriend, Norman, also pitches in to help, as do Hannah and Norman's mothers. With most of the women in town bearing a grudge against the deceased for her flirting ways or meanness as a fitness instructor and a slew of potential jilted lovers, there are a lot of suspects to rule out and not a lot of clues.
I've heard great things about the Hannah Swensen mysteries and Joanne Fluke so when my coworker offered me this book for for what I've designated as Mystery March, I was quick to say "yes." This is Fluke's 11th cozy mystery feature Hannah and it's obvious right from the beginning that Fluke is working hard to bring first time readers up to speed with the cast of characters in Lake Eden, Minnesota. The problem for me was that there were just too many characters and it took a lot of pages to finally get to the point where a story could really build. Not that Fluke wasted any time in letting the reader know who the murder victim was going to be in this book. Already on page three, the reader knows that village vamp, Ronni Ward is going to get hers. But it's not until page 119 that Hannah finally finds Ronni's body.
Much is made throughout the book of Hannah's cat, Moishe and the gift of a multi-day feeder she receives for him. At first I was just getting annoyed with all this talk about the cat and how much he was eating .Once Mike suggested that Hannah put in a surveillance camera to try to figure out what was happening to all of the food that was disappearing in hours, not days, it became obvious that the camera was going to become key to solving the mystery. But even understanding why the story line had been included didn't stop me from feeling like it had taken up entirely too many pages.
There is also a lot of discussion about the baked goods that Hannah and her shop are creating. The details were distracting from the story for me but the good news is that recipes for all of these goodies are included in the book. So even though I finished the book quickly, it's not going to be back in my co-worker's hands until I have time to copy down several of them!