Release Date: Feb 27, 2018
Series: A Hannah Swensen Mystery
It’s almost Thanksgiving and Hannah Swensen Barton is keeping busy running her bakery and coffee shop, The Cookie Jar. However, her heart is breaking because her new husband, Ross, left their Lake Eden, Minnesota condo two weeks earlier and she hasn’t heard from his since. She keeps hoping for a call, but the longer he’s stays away without contacting her, the more she worries he may have had an accident or met with foul play. Her friends and family are around to support her, but she doesn’t know what to do. Then, when a co-worker of Ross is murdered, Hannah decides to start investigating, and soon she begins to wonder if she ever really knew her husband at all.
It’s hard to believe Raspberry Danish Murder is the twenty-second in the Hannah Swensen mystery series. I have followed the series from the beginning, so am very familiar with all of the characters. New readers will easily catch on the story, but it won’t be as enjoyable without having the background about Hannah and Ross from reading the last couple books. The subject of Hannah and Ross is a touchy one for longtime fans of the series. Hannah went years being unable to decide between her two suitors, police detective Mike, and dentist, Norman. When Hannah finally decided to get married, readers were stunned when she chose old college boyfriend, Ross, out of the blue. The whole thing seemed rushed and out of character for Hannah, and I must admit feeling hopeful when I saw that in this book, Ross has disappeared.
This is a clean cozy and quick, easy read. Hannah is a kind and generous person who is still very good friends with her ex-boyfriends Mike and Norman, and each play a large role in the book. I enjoyed seeing her and her sister, Michelle, investigate the murder case and look for clues as to Ross’s whereabouts. This is a clean cozy and quick, easy read. I enjoyed the book more than the last couple of books in the series. However I was disappointed by the awkward, unnatural dialogue between the characters. Joanne Fluke is a talented and experienced writer, but dialogue seemed unpolished and stilted, especially in scenes between Hannah and Michelle and Hannah and Norman. Hannah is close to each of them, but their conversations seemed unrealistically formal.
In spite of the flaws, I enjoyed the story, and returning readers will want to read this latest installment in the series to see what happens next in Hannah’s life. The ending wasn’t what I expected, and the cliffhanger left me intrigued and eager to read the next book. Those who like to cook will be pleased by the inclusion of nearly 30 recipes for cookies, cakes, and other dishes that are mentioned in the story. Most are beyond my cooking abilities, but I may have to try the Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls and Cool Whip Fudge Frosting which sound delicious and appear to be easy to make. Fans of the series will want to keep up with Hannah and new readers who enjoy Sheila Connelly or Joanne Pence will like this series. Those who may have seen the Hannah Swensen Murder She Baked movies will enjoy reading the books that inspired the television version, but just be aware there are differences in the characters between the books and the movies.