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Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen…

Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery) (original 2018; edition 2018)

by Joanne Fluke (Author)

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9413190,125 (3.19)10
Title:Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)
Authors:Joanne Fluke (Author)
Info:Kensington (2018), 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Cozy, Mystery, Signed Copy, 2019CC, Feb19

Work details

Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke (2018)

  1. 00
    Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson (JenniferRobb)
    JenniferRobb: Both are culinary themed cozy mysteries

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Being different from the others in the Hannah series, Christmas Cake Murder tells of the origins of Hannah and her bakery while also telling a story of a woman looking for safety. This book lacks the murder aspect of the rest of the series but focuses on a mystery. Due to this fact, the reader sees how everything always works out for Hannah and that her family has a lot of money and they all eat a lot especially full meals including desserts everyday. All in all the story leaves some questions uncovered as these parts are rushed in the book yet is a good and easy read. ( )
  Preston.Kringle | Mar 16, 2019 |
This story is not your usual cozy mystery. Oh sure, someone does get killed (as the title would suggest) but not anyone you might have expected. The book's real charm (not that one would consider murder "charming") lies in its story within the story.

This 23rd installment in the Hannah Swensen Holiday Mystery series is actually a flashback to the early days before Hannah opened her bakery café. She's dropped out of school and come home to Lake Eden licking a few wounds of the romantic persuasion. She settles into a routine at her mother's home where baking and cooking are Hannah's new normal. Her mother is a disaster in the kitchen whereas Hannah is a whiz and quite creative.

A dear older friend, Essie, has ended up in the local hospital after an unfortunate altercation with a flight of stairs. While looking in Essie's "home" for a few personal effects to cheer her in the hospital, Hannah comes across some of Essie's writing of what appears to be the start of a book. Hannah's reading aloud of the story is the point at which the mystery truly begins.

Not wanting to give away the plot, just know that baking plays a large role in the story and Hannah is a champ when it comes to trouping out the desserts. It's a sweet story (literally, with all the dessert recipes contained therein). Pour yourself a cup of egg nog, grab 2 cookies and a plate and curl up for a cozy few hours in Lake Eden with Hannah and her family.

I am grateful to author Joanne Fluke, Kensington Publishing Corps and Goodreads First Reads for having provided a free copy of this book. Their generosity, however, has not influenced this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Synopsis (from book's dust jacket):
It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be
murder . . .

With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake . . . ( )
  KateBaxter | Jan 8, 2019 |
This book was so fun because it was a prequel to the Hannah Swensen series, showing how Hannah came to open the Cookie Jar and start her cookie business. We also see younger Dolores, Michelle, and Andrea pregnant with Tracy. There is no romance dilemmas so it was just a fun read. I do like books that have a story in the story and this one had that too, actually it was the mystery within.

Great addition (or was it the start?) of this series. ( )
  cyderry | Dec 24, 2018 |
I've read other books featuring Hannah Swensen, but I had to go back and see when this one was published because it seems to fall at an earlier time than other books I've read in the series. My only explanation for that is that this is billed as a "Hannah Swensen Holiday Mystery" which may be different than the Hannah Swensen series.

In the last book featuring Hannah that I read, she already owned The Cookie Jar and already lived in a different location than her mother. Michelle was a college student (not a high school student as she is here). And I don't remember mention of Dolores's husband Lars in the books I've read in this series prior to this.

So this book goes back to fill in some of the history: why Hannah left college, how she came to own her business, etc. At the same time, it presents the story of Essie. I liked the notebooks telling a story within Fluke's story. I also liked the idea of the Christmas Cake parade though the constant references to it throughout sometimes did get a bit repetitive.

I also missed Moishe's antics (Hannah's cat in other books) as well as not having Norman and Mike hanging around. And it does bother me some that every recipe Hannah makes is delicious--she never seems to burn cookies or make something that doesn't work for some reason--yes, sometimes there are tweaks that are suggested, but not usually because whatever they're tasting tastes bad, just because they think it might be interesting to try.

I was interested in a couple recipes from this book but upon reading them don't think they'll fit into my low salt diet for medical reasons since the pork roast one starts with canned soup (very high in sodium) and, of course, most baked goods have salt in the recipe too. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Nov 28, 2018 |
This book takes us back to when Hannah's father had just died and she had completed six years of college and just broken up with her professor boyfriend who married someone else. Andrea is pregnant with her first child and is a happy homemaker. Michelle is a high school student acting in the school plays who is friends with Lisa. There is, of course, no Mike or Norman as they haven't moved to Lake Eden yet.

Dolores, Hannah's mother spends most of her time in bed weeping and Hannah and her sisters are worried that she'll follow their father to the grave in her grief. Grandma Knudson whose grandson is the local Luthern minister and Annie who runs the orphanage are powerhouses at getting things done. They come by once again to visit Dolores and Hannah tells them of her worries. But they have just the thing to pull Dolores out of her depression. A project to help Essie, a local woman who owns the rundown, now shut down hotel who used to have storytime for the kids which gave the mothers a chance to get things done.

Essie fell down the stairs of the hotel and broke her hip and can't stay at the hotel to recuperate so she is staying at hospice until she can get better. But Essie has declared that nothing would make her happier than to have a Christmas Ball like the one where she met her husband Alton all those years ago at the hotel. Complete with a Christmas cake walk and a dessert buffet. The problem is the hotel is in disrepair and needs to be fixed up and they need someone to spearhead the project. Would Dolores agree to take on this monumental task? Of course, she does and immediately feels better when she does.

Hannah, Michelle, and Lisa agree to make the cakes and desserts. But Hannah will need a big freezer to hold the cakes they make in advance. Dolores agrees to buy one. However, Michelle and Andrea and Hannah are talking about what Hannah wants to do with her life and she says that her dream is to open up a coffee and bakery shop. Dolores hears her and lets her know that there is still money left in her college fund to put down on the old bakery that is being rented to buy in town if she is serious.

When Delores and Hannah go to the Hotel to get some things for Essie to have in the hospital they stumble across some old notebooks written faintly in ink. Essie tells them they can read them if they want that she was trying her hand at fiction but that she didn't finish the book because she couldn't figure out an ending. The story is about a young pregnant woman who works for her cousin, a mobster, and how she and her husband plan on turning him in and escaping the life. He stays behind to face them like nothing is wrong because they shouldn't suspect and she sneaks out and mails off the evidence to the authorities, then gets on a train and heads off to Minnesota where no one will find her.

This book is alright in that it explains how Hannah got her start, but its a murder mystery series and there's no murder. There's a tiny bit of a mystery at the end that she's kinda been stringing you along throughout the book if you've been wise enough to pick up on. Overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. Some of the recipes included are Cocoa Crunch Cookies, Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake, Bacon, and Sausage Burritos, Chocolate Hazelnut Bon-Bons, and Minty Dreams Cookies. I give this book three stars out of five stars. ( )
  nicolewbrown | Nov 21, 2018 |
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This book is dedicated to my dear friend, Trudi Nash. Thank you so much for the bundt cake concept! I had so much fun with it.
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Chapter One: Hannah Comes Home From College Hannah Swensen took her mother's potholders off the hook by the stove and removed a sheet of cookies from the oven.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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