Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Reasons for reading: Set in Minnesota; May book for Every Month is a Holiday Challenge (May is National Strawberry Month)
Book description: "When the president of Hartland Flour chooses cozy Lake Eden, Minnesota, as the spot for their first annual Dessert Bake-Off, Hannah is thrilled to serve as the head judge. But when a fellow judge, Coach Boyd Watson, is found stone-cold dead, facedown in Hannah's celebrated strawberry shortcake, Lake Eden's sweet ride to fame turns very sour indeed. Between perfecting her Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie and Chocolate Crunchies, Hannah's snooping into the coach's private life and not coming up short on suspects. And could Watson's harsh criticism during the judging have given one of the contestants a license to kill? The stakes are rising faster than dough, and Hannah will have to be very careful, because somebody is cooking up a recipe for murder...with Hannah landing on the "necessary ingredients" list."
First line: "The sound of a crash startled Hannah Swensen awake."
Favourite line: "If chocolate were a mandatory part of breakfast, people wouldn't be so grouchy in the morning."
My thoughts: I thought this was the first in the series, but it's the second, after Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. But I managed to enjoy it without having read the first - there's a bit of backstory about Hannah's relationship with Mike the cop and how she got her cat, but overall it was fine.
I'm fond of all things Minnesotan, so that was a big plus for me. I enjoyed the whole baking theme - there are some mouth-watering recipes included in the book and I liked that each one has a note about how different characters feel about the dessert, as if it was straight from Hannah's personal recipe box. It did make me really want to eat some cookies, though! And I envied how almost all of the characters munched on them regularly throughout the book - I feel guilty having one cookie!
I can see myself bringing another Hannah Swensen mystery on vacation to Minnesota with me. There are certainly a bunch of them, and their titles all sound delicious.