Cooking up Suspense with Joanne Fluke
For those of you who like to combine sweets and mysteries, an author highly recommended is Joanne Fluke. Ms. Fluke has managed to combine delicious recipes with cozy mysteries in a very charming manner!
Joanne grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota (and she does insist that the mosquito is not the state bird!) While pursuing her writing career, Joanne held down many and varied jobs which include a public school teacher, musician, secretary, Assistant to a PI (now that does sound interesting – and I’m sure it came in handy) computer consultant in addition to being a wife andmother.
While best known for her Hannah Swenson series, known for its comedy recipes and endings, Joanne has also written some 30 other books under her name and several pseudonyms. However, it was for the Hannah Swenson series she’s achieved her greatest success.
Hannah Swenson is the owner and operator of a bakery called The Cookie Jar, where she and a young assistant make everything by hand. In between croissants and cupcakes, she solves murders.
Hannah is assisted by her younger sister, Andrea Todd (who just happens to be married to the sheriff), her assistant Lisa, her younger sister, Michelle Swensen, and Carrie Rhodes. Carrie is the mother of one of Hannah’s two beaus, town dentist Norman Rhodes. The other is police detective Mike Kingston. The two men vie for Hannah’s attention and both have asked her to marry them.Tracey Todd, Hannah’s six year old niece, is another smart cookie and rounding out the bunch is Moishe, a 23 pound feisty tomcat who loves to eat and who is Hannah’s roommate.
Honest, with a cast like that what’s not to love?
In the first book, entitled the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, a delivery man is found dead behind Hannah’s bakery, Hannah’s chocolate chip cookies scattered all around his body. Determined not to have her cookies get a murderous reputation, Hannah sets about finding the culprit with a host of suspects that range from the High School football coach to the owner of the local dairy. She followed this up with her second adventure, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, when Hannah takes it upon herself to find out who iced one of the judges of the annual Dessert Bake-Off – in her strawberry shortcake.
My personal favorite is the Carrot Cake Murder. While helping her assistant Lisa prepare for a family reunion a murder occurs and Lisa enlists Hannah’s aid. The best part of this story for me was the conflict among Hannah, Norman and Mike; and also, as a cat lover, discovering what Moishe’s predicament was. Curious? You’ll have to read the book to find out! The Cinnamon Roll Murder is another excellent one, set at a Weekend Jazz Festival. Who killed the beloved keyboard player? Theplot thickens when it turns out he wasn’t who he appeared to be…
Fluke’s talent for linking the murders with the bakery items baked by her character is quite ingenious. To date there are 16 recipe murders, with the seventeenth debuting this month (Red Velvet Cupcake Murder). NO doubt one of them will contain one of YOUR favorite recipes.
Below is a list in order of the Hannah Swenson Mysteries:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Strawberry Shortcake Murder
Blueberry Muffin Murder
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
Fudge Cupcake Murder
Sugar Cookie Murder
Peach Cobbler Murder
Cherry Cheesecake Murder
Key Lime Pie Murder
Carrot Cake Murder
Cream Puff Murder
Plum Pudding Murder
Apple Turnover Murder
Gingerbread Cookie Murder
Devils Food Cake Murder
Cinammon Roll Murder
Red Velvet Cupcake Murder
We look forward to many more recipe/murder combinations!
PS: Check out ROCCO’s blog February 26th for an interview with Moishe, Hannah’s cat! www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
Columnist: Toni LoTempio – admin by day, writer by night, Toni is the author of several paperback and e-books of paranormal suspense – as well as the upcoming Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime. She and her cat ROCCO do fundraising for Nathan Fillion’s charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, when they aren’t interviewing authors on ROCCO’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (the release of the forthcoming MEOW IF IT’S MURDER included) at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com