Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mystery March - Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke

Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke
333 pages
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!


  1. It sounds like this series might be better if you started it from the beginning and got to know the characters better. I know what you mean about the recipes - I love a book with recipes.

  2. Lisa, I've heard of these Fluke books and seems as if everyone enjoys thems so much. After reading your review, I think I'll give them a pass. They seem like they could be fun, but I'm just not feeling it. Oh well, at least you'll get some yummy recipes, right?

  3. It's nice the author is trying to get the reader up to speed if they just started the series but it's okay to write a series for series sake. I like the recap but if it takes up a lot of the book then i might as well just start from the beginning and read all the books. Sue Grafton is a mystery author who does recap really well. It's quick, flows well with the story and then boom you are on to the actual case.
    I have a the first three in this series on my shelf. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow, this book sounds like it was kind of all over the place! I am not a big fan of this genre, but have thought about investigating the foodie type mysteries more than once. It doesn't sound as though I would really like this one though. Thanks for your honest take on the book. I appreciate it!

  5. Love the "Mystery March" idea! I've seen a lot of food-based books including recipes and I think it's a really fun idea. All too often reading about scrumptious treats makes me hungry so it's nice when authors let you in on how to make what they describe!

  6. I really love this series although this particular one wasn't one of my favorites. I need to read the next one in line now. I have a few to catch up on.

  7. I love the ones with food and recipes! Sounds fun!