Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Reviewed by Kristin

Joanne Fluke is back with yet another cozy cooking mystery: Blackberry Pie Murder.  Hannah Swensen is baking cookies, planning her mother’s wedding to Doc, and trying her best not to find any more dead bodies.  Cookies—check.  Wedding planning—well, this is her mother we are talking about.  No more dead bodies—oops.  Famous last words.

After an article in the Lake Eden Journal snarkily points out that it has been over four months since any member of the Swensen family has found a dead body, Hannah picks up her friend and Cookie Jar employee, Lisa, and takes her to the auto mechanic during a thunderstorm.  Going down a winding country road, Hannah and Lisa suddenly feel a thump.  That four month body-free spell?  It’s over.  Not only is there another dead body, but Hannah is arrested for vehicular homicide.

As the proprietor of The Cookie Jar, Hannah sounds as if she must be an amazing cook.  Every time a new type of cookie is mentioned, the recipe is at the end of the chapter: cook’s notes, variations and all.  All the recipes sound delicious, although I must admit that I skip over them.  Hannah and company bake at least three or four times a day, between cookies to sell at The Cookie Jar, desert for an impromptu meal, or just any time someone needs to be perked up with chocolate.  Maybe we should be shelving these in the 641.5 section.

While I found the beginning of this series to be cute and enjoyable, it has become somewhat repetitive with seventeen titles featuring Hannah, her family and her two beaus:  Mike and Norman.  Since the very first book (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder), Hannah has been going back and forth between the handsome and exciting cop Mike, and the steady, dependable dentist Norman.  The love triangle has gone on long enough.  Hannah’s mother is getting married; it’s time for Hannah to move forward and take one of the men up on his proposal and cut the other one loose, or just cut both of them loose and move on as an independent woman.

I don’t know if I was just not in the mood for a cozy cooking mystery, but this book fell flatter than, well, a fallen cake.  Fluke is always telling us things that don’t seem to be important.  Why do we need to know that in order to install a fancy toilet in a condo, you must get the homeowners association’s permission?  Is this relevant to the mystery?  Did I miss something?  The ending is a bit of a cliff-hanger.  Perhaps Fluke is trying to keep people hooked and looking forward to the next book in the series.  I hate to “break-up” with an author, but I think it may be time.

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