Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen and her bakery, The Cookie Jar, bask in the glow of Hollywood glamour when Main Street becomes a movie set. And although tensions simmer as the cameras roll, no one expects the action to turn deadly...until it's too late...

There's no such thing as privacy in Lake Eden, but Hannah never thought things would go this far. Everyone has been telling her what to do ever since she got not one but two marriage proposals. Movie mania soon shoves Hannah's marriage dilemma into the background and even gives her cat a shot at stardom. The Cookie Jar serves as snack central with Main Street rented out for the week. She stirs lots of fresh gossip, whipping up treats for cast and crew, including demanding direct Dean Lawrence's favourite - cherry cheesecake.

Everything's on schedule until Dean demonstrates a suicide scene with a prop gun that turns out to be all too real. As filming continues, Hannah sifts through the clues, hoping against hope that the person responsible for Dean's death is half-baked enough to have made a mistake. When it happens, Hannah intends to be there- ready to rewrite a killer's lethal script with the kind of quirky ending that can only happen in Lake Eden...

It has actually been nearly 18 months since I read a Hannah Swensen story, and whilst I knew that I was a bit jaded with the relationship aspect of the book, I couldn't think of any other reasons why I hadn't read any. So I went ahead and bought this book, and now I remember! I guess I have a few months before the next book in the series comes out in paperback, and whether or not I am ready to give it another try!


This post may well turn into a bit of a rant, so I can't guarantee that there won't be any spoilers in this review for anyone who hasn't read the last couple of books in this series. In all honesty, I probably should not call this be a review, because there were a few things that happened in this book that made me think about giving up this series, and therefore I am going to talk about them, as opposed to the actual storyline of the book! Where to start?

The Movie:

So, it turns out that there is going to be a movie that will have some of it's scenes filmed in Lake Eden. Fair enough. The news comes in, and then just days later the movie crew arrives. Okkkaaayyy. But then it turns out that some of the central roles in the film haven't yet been cast. I understand minor characters, but to have pretty integral roles not cast seems unusual to say the least. Of course, luckily, Hannah's precocious niece Tracy is perfect for the role. Can you see me rolling my eyes!

The Family:

Hannah's sister Andrea seems to think her husband Bill who has gone to a policing conference in Florida is having an affair, and there is a lot of time spent in the early parts of the book, talking through whether or not he is! And there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he is! Andrea is annoying most of the time! Then there's the fact that she has a new baby that she doesn't seem to spend any time with. And this time there is the younger sister Michelle in the story more than usual. At least I don't want to slap her.

The Incidentals:

There was some talk about stuff that was completely irrelevant to the story in this one. For example, at one point in the book the three sisters were talking about marcelling - basically the finger wave that they used in the 20's and 30's - it seemed as though Fluke had learnt something new and then wanted to add it into the story. Of course, then there is the old murder that crops up and is resolved in the last few pages as an added extra!

The cat:

I'm sure that other cat people think Moishe is adorable, but I think he needs less page time!

And now for the big one - The Relationships - and this is where the spoilers will come in.

At the end of the last book, both men that Hannah is dating, Mike and Norman, proposed to her. Now to be honest I didn't get that myself. She has apparently been dating both of them for well over a year. There is no suggestion of hanky panky with either man, but it seems that they both love Hannah enough to want to propose marriage. So this book opens with Hannah thinking about which man to accept - Mike or Norman - and the whole town has taken sides and is putting pressure on her to make up her mind. Eventually, she says no to both of them - or more precisely said that when she has decided to get married she will be asking the man that she wants to marry, so whilst they both sulk they both hang around. So, what is an author to do when she has an unresolved love triangle??? Add another suitor of course!! Ugh. To be honest, I think that both Mike and Norman are schmucks for putting up with Hannah's crap, no matter how irresistable she is, even though she is apparently plain and a little on the plump side. Perhaps it is her cookie making skills that are so attractive??

As to who I would choose - no contest - Mike Kingston, the hot policeman...without a doubt!

At the end of the new potential suitor leaves town, and you have everyone gathered at a family gathering. Hannah is sitting between Norman and Mike, and seemingly thinking that everything is well with the world, which I don't get either. Unless I really misunderstand the dating rules in the US, it doesn't exactly seem like a normal situation to me. Hannah thinks to herself:

Hannah smiled at Norman and then she turned to smile at Mike. On past occasions she'd resented the fact that she was always seated between them. She'd even made cracks about being the filling in a Mike and Norman sandwich. Today she didn't mind at all. She'd upset their equilibrium by going out with Ross and it was time to reassure them. Ross was like an exotic dessert, a diversion to tingle the taste buds and make her savor her own life with a more discerning palate. he was like a baked Alaska flambeed with fine brandy, flashy and exciting, but not something you'd serve with an ordinary supper of meat and potatoes. Mike and Norman were more like ....cookies. Cookies were something you could have every day without ever tiring of them.

She then goes on to choose what type of cookies, they would be. Norman would be an Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie...."perfect for any occasion and at any time of day", and Mike a Black-and-white cookie....."perfectly shaped and gorgeous to look at. It was sweet on the outside, and darker and more intense once you got past the powdered sugar." In my opinion, they both need to give Hannah the flick....or Mike could have me, and Hannah can have Norman!

So having said very little about the actual storyline, I can tell you that these things annoyed me so much that I was going to rate this as 2.5/5, but I do have to concede that the recipes included in the mystery sound great, so instead I give it...

Rating 3/5


  1. I'm so disappointed that she doesn't solve the triangle problem... and I'm getting weird feelings, everywhere I look people just love Mike and honestly I would so much prefer Norman... something to think about LOL

  2. Really...what is it that you like about Norman?

  3. Well he seems like such a nice guy and he is really supportive of Hannah. He comes across as dependable and a true friend imho. More like a beta hero... Mike keeps looking at every other female, is bossy and always takes Hannah for granted...

  4. Poor Norman :-) I see he'll never win with you! I think he is caring and sweet...

  5. This one sounds great - I love mysteries!



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