For one thing, the story is set in early summer as the town of Lake Eden is consumed with the annual Tri-County Fair and Hannah Swensen is doing her part to make the good times roll.
Business may be slow at The Cookie Jar but Hannah and her bakery partner Lisa are doing well enough with a fair ground booth, plus our leading lady was chosen as one of the judges for the various pastry contests being held at the fair.
The judging is going well and it helps to keep Hannah from worrying too much about her beloved cat Moishe(who is acting strangely, even by his usual standards!) there. However, when she discovers the body of Willa, a local home economics teacher who was one of Hannah's fellow judges, after dark upon leaving the fair, the good old summer time mood is definitely over.
I do love how the whole town throws itself into the festivities, especially when Hannah has to play magician's assistant in place of Lisa(she gets claustrophobic during a "lady in the box" trick) and Delores, Hannah's cheerfully determined mother, sets up a dunking booth for her favorite charity with the full intention of having all of her daughters take their turn in getting drenched for the cause.
One of the more amusing sub plots here is Hannah's determination to taste a deep fried candy bar, available at a booth run by a rather sweet natured lady, but not wanting anyone else to see her eating something so decadent. Granted, I wish Hannah didn't feel so self conscious about enjoying a guilty pleasure like this but I can safely say that she does get her sweet reward in the end:
The two main men in her orbit are back to their not-so friendly rivalry mode(after teaming up against a third guy looking to romance Hannah in the prior entry, Cherry Cheesecake Murder) but it's Norman who spends more time with Hannah, helping her with the new mystery as well as with Moishe.
Also, when Hannah gets upset about the way Mike and Norman casually talk about Willa's death-on the same night that she's found the brutally murdered woman, mind you-and kicks them out of her house, it's Norman who is the first to apologize.
Sure, Mike is a cop and his depersonalized take on murder is understandable yet Hannah only gets his true feelings on that by accidentally overhearing a conversation that Mike has with another police officer! It would have been better if he just told Hannah himself because this way just lets him off the hook too easily.
Look, Mike is a decent guy but Norman is the real keeper in my opinion. He not only gets Hannah and supports her in all of her endeavors, the man even had a special staircase built in his house for Hannah's cat to enjoy(a house they designed together,btw). I do know who she does end up with yet can't help but hold out hope for Norman to be the one when all is said and done. He's the Luke to her Lorelai in my mind, at least:
Even though this isn't a Thanksgiving themed story, there's plenty of family bonding moments and good friends on board to make this book feel just right for the season.
Plus, pie always makes me think of Thanksgiving -it's the official dessert of the holiday if you ask me-and what ever flavor you prefer, it's the perfect end note to the edible melody that we all share on this day:
Yes, the Series-ous Reading will continue as well and plans are under way for another round of this reading and reviewing in 2020.
For my 2019 finale, I'll be diving into the first book of Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series, Mr. Churchill's Secretary and the one that comes after it, Princess Elizabeth's Spy ,will be part of a special feature for Series-ous Reading 4.0-more details next month!
Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to all and looking forward to meeting Maggie Hope to see how she starts her amazing WWII adventures. No doubt working for Winston Churchill will be quite the challenge but I have every confidence that Maggie will prove herself to be equally formidable: