- Series: Hannah Swensen Mysteries
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Kensington; First Edition edition (March 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0758210205
- ISBN-13: 978-0758210203
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries) Hardcover – February 26, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Filled with juicy scandal, delightfully eccentric characters and 21 tempting recipes from Cream Cheese Frosting to Lemon Fluff Jell-O, bestseller Fluke's 10th Hannah Swenson mystery (after 2007's Key Lime Pie Murder) centers on a family reunion that turns deadly. Hannah's friend Marge Beeseman is thrilled when her brother, Gus Klein, who disappeared from Lake Eden, Minn., more than 30 years earlier, unexpectedly arrives. At the big family party, everyone wonders how the elegant, well-dressed Gus heard about the reunion and why he came back. When Gus fails to show up for the group photo the next morning, Hannah finds his body on a pavilion floor—with ants crawling around pieces of her carrot cake nearby. Hannah's malcontented cat, Moishe, and flickers of romance with her devoted dentist and the no-less attentive local police chief add spice to the subsequent murder investigation. The ending will leave cozy fans gasping for breath. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Daily life’s many preoccupations engage Hannah Swensen’s attention. And life in Lake Eden, Minnesota, fairly brims with church activities, cooking, family gatherings, and the demands of a mischievous cat. Moreover, Hannah runs a bakery, and her carrot cake is famed across the region. A piece of that cake shows up one day beside the corpse of her business partner’s uncle Gus. It’s up to Hannah to find out who did him in, and her sleuthing techniques are tested to the limit as she discovers many potential killers who each had good reason to want Gus out of the way. Recipes appear throughout the text, tied to plot developments. There’s even a culinary mystery: What’s the secret sauce on those tasty salmon cakes? The popularity of Fluke’s earlier food-focused mysteries will undoubtedly raise demand for this newest title even beyond its expected audience in the Upper Midwest. --Mark Knoblauch
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Top customer reviews
As set up in the previous book, Hannah's protege and part-owner of their shared Lake Eden Bakery, Lisa, and her new husband Herb, traffic cop extraordinaire, are having an extended family re-union on Eden Lake. One of their long-lost relatives, Gus Klein, randomly shows up and begins to cause trouble like he did when he was a child some thirty-five years ago. But this time, his trouble earns him an ice pick to the heart -- what some say is cold justice payback! There are tons of suspects in this murder mystery all connected to Herb and Lisa's family, and at this point in the series, Detective Mike Kingston (1 of Hannah's 2 primary love interests) no longer pretends to stop Hannah from trying to investigate, he encourages it. With both her sisters' and mother's, as well as her other primary love interest, dentist Norman Rhodes, Hannah begins digging up all the dirt she can. Gus is not as wealthy as he claimed, and is only back in town to run some final scam, but it turns out to be his last one. Hannah rounds up the suspects and proves alibis one-by-one until she's left with the one person she had a gut instinct about along the way... luckily, she's saved by Mike just before the killer tries to knock her out too.
And for some extra fun on the side, Hannah spends a lot of time with Norman making us all root for him to win her heart, only to throw a little monkey-wrench into the plan at the end when Ross, the other paramour from a few books in the past, sizzles back into town wanting to see her as soon as possible. Well now what's Hannah going to do... not only will she have 3 men to juggle but her mother just got a book romance book published starring... her own daughters. Lake Eden is gonna be hopping in book 11!
1. Hannah is a really fun character. She has so many great traits and a couple of flaws but it all makes her so real. She is sometimes a little too rude / direct, sometimes a little flaky and sometimes just too independent for her own good. But she is also charming, pretty, a great baker and a very accomplished woman.
2. Author Fluke knows how to integrate so many families and keeps it connected throughout each book in the series. It's great to see / hear so many faces popping up from prior books that you really feel like you're part of the story.
3. The mystery has some intrigue and complexity to it for a cozy. There's at least 5 to 6 possible suspects and you have a few twists and turns that keep you guessing.
1. Hannah's love triangle and now quadrangle... ugh, heart-breaker... but we really need her to let someone go. I like both Mike and Norman, but I see Norman as the better match for her in the long-run. I also like Ross and am curious to see what happens in the next book. But 3's too much. I'm not trying to hold my girl back, but she hasn't done more than kiss any of them and has this much trouble trying to figure out who is right for her??? What's gonna happen when it gets steamier???
2. Love the recipes but they're starting to take over the book. I'd like to limit it to 10 per book so you are enjoying the mystery more than the cooking. Don't get me wrong, I love desserts, but I can't cook everything she throws out there!
The cozy mystery has a certain kind of reader base. You're not gonna find major romance or suspense, or even a lot of thrilling murders. It's light and fun... with a few gut punches to keep you paying attention. The Hannah Swensen series has been fairly consistent thru ten books. So if you're a cozy fan, and you like to stay with the same bunch of characters, you should be reading this series.
I often wonder whether Fluke is indeed paid by the word. I have rarely seen clunkier, more labored exposition. (Is there a clause in her contract that requires each book to be 300+ pages?) As other reviewers have pointed out, she seems to be writing for an astonishingly stupid audience. Most literate adults, for example, don't need to be told what "slate blue" means. And no character development or progression ever occurs.
Fluke herself seems to be oblivious to current culture or trends. Clothes she describes as "stylish" have been out of fashion since the late '80s. Delores and Andrea, who are touted as fashion doyennes, wear clothes straight out of the Nancy Reagan era. Has Fluke in fact actually ever met a college graduate under 30? My own 33-year-old daughter wouldn't be caught dead in what Hannah wears--and, heck, neither would I. Pastel pants suits? A freaking seersucker one? Hannah comes across as a dumpy, crotchety 50-year-old (full disclosure: I'm 59), so why do three desirable guys have the hots for her? And what woman still in her 20s (cf. the earlier books) has to be forced to use a cell phone or computer? She's a business owner, for crying out loud, and she lives in an area infamous for life-threatening blizzards!
Re the Mike-Norman thing: Fluke should have taken Hannah's dream in a previous book (in which she was about to marry both Mike AND Norman) and run with it. That would at least have been interesting. Mike and Norman are pals, and don't seem to be eaten alive by jealousy, so a menage-a-trois could work: Hannah and Norman could live in the Dream House and enjoy a cozy, companionable existence, and Mike could drop by every now and again to spice things up.
Re the scene on the pond (which, I must admit, did have a dash of excitement): How could the murderer NOT have heard Hannah's rowboat approaching?
It's a bit sad to note that Fluke will most likely never change anything in the Cookie Jar books, because most of her readers award her four or five stars, and because many people like formulaic series that offer few surprises.
In closing, allow me to announce that I could have gone happily to my grave without ever having encountered the baseball-bat-tattoo subplot and the squicky principal's office scene. That is all.
Hannah is full of self loading, to fat, no fashion sense.... blah, blah, blah, her mother is prettier, her sisters are prettier and also have a fashion sense, but Hannah doesn't has it... So what, what is her problem??? I don't get it. It is really annoying, especially because people have to tell her again and again what a lovely person she is..... But like I said, she isn't very bright really, she doesn't know to use a cell phone, a computer, can't find out what channel Animal planet is on..... please..... When she "solves" a crime, she more of less stumbles on it and than she is so stupid to nearly get killed because she didn't learn of her other mistakes that get her nearly killed. Jeez...
I still give the book 3 stars and I will read the rest of the books I have on my kindle, and hopefully she will decide about the man in her life before I am to bored to read one other book.