A Cozy that Foodies will Devour

Hannah is in over her head when a murder takes place in broad daylight right behind her bakeshop and the victim is covered in her cookies. Be prepared for a zesty debut to this series because Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke has more bite than other cozy mysteries.

This cozy’s amateur sleuth is Hannah Swensen, owner of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota, a small town boasting a dairy and well…the small town life. The victim is Ron, a former high school football star who now delivers milk from the Cozy Cow dairy. He’s a handsome, hometown hero. Who would want Ron dead? And why did it have to be her cookies?

Hannah’s soon-to-be detective brother-in-law, Bill, asks for her help as a civilian to contact him if she hears anything at her cookie shop. Hannah soon finds herself climbing into dumpsters and getting a make over in order to uncover evidence for Bill. She is wading through all the dirty secrets of the town to find a murderer. Hannah’s more attractive younger sister, Andrea, wants to help Hannah and ensure her husband gets that promotion. This story gets a little heavy, touching on subjects such as spousal abuse, gambling addiction, and loan sharks. What kind of cozy is this? Hannah fits right in with her snappy remarks.

Although not an active participant in the search for the murderer, her cat Moishe is a scruffy ginger cat with a torn ear that’s blind in one eye. He is safe at home during all her sleuthing. I don’t approve of her giving the cat a bowl of ice cream, but I’ll ignore it this time.

I found myself constantly checking on the published date because Hannah doesn’t have a cell phone and relies on her answering machine for any communication. I remember when this was the case…but that was more than 15 years ago for me. Most of those calls are from her mother who wonders why Hannah is still unmarried and not actively looking for a husband.

Back to the food I promised. When a chapter ended with a cookie recipe, it was totally tied into the chapter and even had baking tips from “Hannah” and her assistant Lisa. I was torn, do I keep reading or should I stop and see if I have everything to make these cookies? I continued on with the novel. What other cookie recipes would be revealed? There were seven recipes included in my edition. Also, is this one of the cozies where the heroine finds love? Hold on, I’ll need to grab a few cookies before I go on.

I have to say I was a bit surprised when the murderer was revealed, I thought I had figured out who it was and I was wrong.  I’m not sure if there were enough clues for a reader to figure it out on his or her own, but it was still an entertaining story.

I felt like Hannah was very relatable. She’s a little awkward and appearance comes lower on the list, because, really, it’s hard to look good when you’re covered in flour. She knows her red hair is unruly and that she doesn’t dress up well (save that for her more alluring sisters). I feel the same way about my writing. I know that I’m probably going to get covered in pen, especially  the sides of my hand, so there’s no point in trying to look pretty while it happens.

One more surprise for fans of this tasty cozy series is that Hallmark created a total of four made-for-tv movies around this series called, Murder She Baked. I have not been able to watch any yet, but did watch the 2 minute preview on their website.

Cost: 50 cents at a local yard sale

Drink of Choice: Real Pumpkin Latte

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