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Review 🔍 Christmas Cake Murders by Joanne Fluke

October 5, 2020


As December turns Lake Eden into the North Pole, the heat is on in Hannah Swensen’s kitchen to honor two Christmas promises: baking irresistible holiday cupcakes and preventing murder!
While Hannah speeds through a lengthy holiday checklist, drama in town grows like Santa’s waistline on Christmas Eve. Her sister Andrea wants to stave off the blues by helping out at The Cookie Jar, Michelle’s love life is becoming complicated, Lisa needs Hannah’s advice, and Delores has a Christmas secret she’s not willing to share. But nothing dampens the holiday mood more than the chilling mystery surrounding the man found near death in an abandoned storefront two doors down from Hannah’s bakery . . .
The befuddled John Doe can’t recall a thing about himself—except for his unusual knowledge of restoring antique furniture. With a smattering of clues and barely enough time to frost Christmas cookies, Hannah must solve a deadly puzzle that could leave her dashing through the snow for her life!

Release Date: Sep 29, 2020
Series: A Hannah Swenson Mystery
Book: 26
Publisher: Kensington Books
Price: $10.99


Hannah Swensen is happy to accompany her mother and her mother’s friend to look at some rental property where they can store their antiques. As the three women check out the space’s features, they make a surprising discovery. A young man is on the floor, near death, and Hannah recognizes him. She had served the homeless man, who was looking for odd jobs to make money, earlier that morning in her shop. They make sure he gets medical attention immediately but when he wakes, he doesn’t remember who he is or why he was in Lake Eden. Hannah had immediately liked the young man and decides to solve the mystery about his identity and help him get his life back.

This book is part of the long-running Hannah Swensen series, but is a flashback to when Hannah’s shop The Cookie Jar had been open for two years. She is already casually dating Mike and Norman, but since both relationships are in the early stages, the book doesn’t have the romance drama of the most recent books in the series. Hannah is a good, sweet person and is sometimes taken advantage of by her overbearing mother, Delores. In later books, Delores mellows some, but she’s still pretty pushy in this story. I like Hannah’s relationship with her sisters and friends, though. I enjoyed the investigation into the man’s past and how Hannah finds and puts together the clues she finds. Everybody pitches in to help “Joe Smith” in this story and it’s great seeing everyone work together. There are a few surprises in what they learn which makes the ending even better.

Most culinary mysteries have recipes, but this series has started to go overboard. There are about twenty-five recipes throughout the book and in addition, much of the book’s narrative is Hannah talking about dishes she’s preparing or recipes she wants to try. As long as you know going into the book that it will be light on mystery, you won’t be disappointed. This book has even less mystery than usual and taking away the food-related portions is really more of a novella in terms of plot. However, it is an entertaining holiday story that fans of the author will enjoy as well as anyone looking for a quick, light read for Christmas.

~ Christine


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