Thursday, May 22, 2008

Review: Strawberry Shortcake Murder

Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
3 stars

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!

There were multiple murders, which added interest to the story. I semi-guessed the killer towards the end, but it was still suspenseful. The final scene was a bit like a Bond movie where James doesn't get killed because his arch-nemesis is so full of himself that he has to explain everything rather than killing our hero, but it was still exciting.

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.


Stephanie said...

I read the first book in this series and really enjoyed it. But I have yet to read anymore. Not sure why. Just too many other things out there that I want to read!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Yeah, that's why I'm hesitant about starting series - unless I just absolutely love it, I don't really want to commit to the whole thing because, as you say, there are WAY too many things to read!!

Cindy B said...

I like this series, and it actually has recipes that I might try - not too totally complicated. But I don't really go out of my way to find it. The love triangle is STILL not resolved 6 or 7 books later!

Anonymous said...

I love this series! I've read all of them AND I have made some of the cookie recipes. In fact, one has become a family favorite - a chocolate mocha cookie. yum!