Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, October 08, 2018

My Series-ous Reading serves up a Blueberry Muffin Murder as a bookish breakfast treat

In this new batch of Series-ous Reading that I'm doing for the remainder of the year, I get to sample more of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mystery stories with a culinary twist(and recipes to boot).

In her third go-around, Hannah finds a Blueberry Muffin Murder almost on the doorstep of her small town bakery in Minnesota called The Cookie Jar. Actually, she discovers the victim in the walk-in freezer who was tasting one of the title goodies just before her demise.

That unfortunate soul is Connie Mac, a celebrity chef/homestyle guru who comes to Lake Eden not only to take part in the local Winter Festival,arranged to bolster late winter spirits as well as revenues, but to do a signing for her new cookbook and attend the grand opening of one of her retail boutiques as well.

Connie is also bringing a special cake for the town banquet that gets damaged en route,so Hannah agrees to let her use The Cookie Jar's kitchen to make a new one. Hannah is usually happy to help out in town events but the more she sees of Connie, the less she likes her. Despite her sweet and sunny manner in public, Connie's attitude can turn downright vicious in private,especially towards her staff:

Even though Connie was a living terror, Hannah is still distressed by her murder and eager to solve the case, particularly since The Cookie Jar is shut down due to being an active crime scene.

Plenty of folks already expect her to find the killer and are willing to help Hannah out(not to mention give her some kitchen space to fill the shop orders for the festival). Even her younger sister Andrea turns out to be very useful with her realtor connections and natural charm.

However, one person who doesn't want Hannah on this case is Mike, her police detective would-be suitor. Mike acknowledges that she's good at this yet is concerned for her safety. Granted, a bit of jealousy about his rival in romance, dentist Norman, plays a part here as Mike tells Hannah that Norman may be a serious suspect in Connie Mac's death:

That suggestion about Norman encourages Hannah to look further into the case and by the time another body is found, Norman is no longer on that list of suspects. Yet, that doesn't narrow things down as Connie Mac made too many enemies along her way to fame.

Hannah also uncovers a secret or two during her search but those revelations may not be the answers that she's looking for. Can she find the killer before a fresh slice of death is served?

I do enjoy this series,as it's as comfortably inviting as a warm plate of homemade muffins on a cold winter's night. Hannah's small town world is engaging and authentic plus the relationship with her sister Andrea develops well, growing from more than a half baked sibling rivalry to at times a real meeting of the minds between them as they work together on the case.

A favorite motif of mine in this book is how much detective work gets done at local eateries, with Andrea having the need to take major meal breaks all the time while steadily denying that she's pregnant(spoiler alert; she is). Those food stops do give both ladies a chance to review their findings and make some conclusions while sharing a plate of fries(or in Andrea's case, stealing most of them from her sister):

The books in this series are fun and yes, tasty reads,especially during stressful times such as the one we're all going through right now. To be sure, a foodie mystery may not be your preferred style of mental relaxation but I do recommend finding a thumping good read of any genre as a source of self care in the harrowing days to come.

Meanwhile, my next Series-ous Reading selection is another Hannah Swensen story, Lemon Meringue Pie Murder. Since I'm in the midst of a readathon right now, this sinister sweet slice of pie will have to wait until November(which is more of a pie month, if you ask me).

 No doubt that this book will be as delicious as anything that British Baking Show judge Mary Berry can whip up in a flash with a dash of clever sweetness,just like Hannah herself:

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