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4.0 out of 5 stars
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
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This was my first time reading a a Joanne Fluke mystery. I had never heard of her before until one day at the bookstore, I picked up one of her other books. I decided to look it up on Amazon and found out that the one I picked up, was part of the Hannah Swensen series. They seemed pretty interesting.
"Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" focuses on Hannah Swensen, the owner of the The Cookie Jar, a quaint cookie shop in the small town of Lake Eden in Minnesota. Hannah finds Ron LaSalle, Lake Eden's football hero dead in his delivery truck with one of her famous Chocolate Chip Crunches still in his hand.
From then on, Hannah sets out to find Ron's killer. She questions everyone in town, but has no leads, because everyone she questions has a motive.
We learn about the small town, and and fall in love with the coziness and friendliness of it. Everybody knows everyone, and this can be a good and a bad thing. In Hannah's case, it works to her advantage, because where there is a small town, there are a bunch of nosy and informed people who feed her with loads of clues.
There are a lot of characters so you have to keep up.
All in all, I thought it was a good mystery, because the person who I thought committed the crime didn't. I was left surprised in the end. The book was also full of yummy cookie recipes, that left my mouth watering everytime I picked up the book. I don't suggest that you read this mystery on an empty stomach.
I definatly will be reading the second installment of the Ms. Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries.
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on July 11, 2003
I'm always searching for a new cozy series, and I was very happy to stumble across Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder while browsing in the mystery section of Amazon.com. When I saw that this mystery had (1) a female amateur sleuth, (2) a cat with personality and (3) recipes, I knew I wanted to try it. I always buy the first in the series to see if I like it, and then buy the rest of the series in a greedy rush when I fall in love with the characters. Needless to say, I have the others in this series on my book-buying list!
I feel that some of the lower ratings of this book were overly harsh. Yes, there are circumstances which are hard to swallow, but any cozy reader knows that some circumstances have to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, are there many women in the world who happen to fall over a dead body at least once a year? Obviously this is not a realistic situation, but that sort of detail didn't stop Agatha Christie writing about Miss Marple, and it shouldn't stop Ms. Fluke writing about Hannah. It's true that it is unlikely that a brother-in-law in law enforcement would beg his sister-in-law for help solving murders, but the amateur detective has to find a way to examine the evidence, and this is Hannah's excuse. I thought the writing was very well done and very funny; especially the bits with the cat who owns Hannah. During some of the passages when Hannah is dealing with her mother, I found myself wondering if Ms. Fluke had been eavesdropping on some of my own telephone conversations! To top it off, the killer was a surprise to me, even though I usually figure out the killer's identity half-way through the book. This series has a great heroine, good supporting cast, funny cat, great recipes and good setting, and is a treat for cozy mystery lovers.
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on August 24, 2002
Hannah Swensen of Lake Eden, Minnesota, has a better excuse than most of fiction's lady sleuths to excuse her nosiness: her sister Andrea's husband Bill Todd is deputy sheriff for the county and Hannah tirelessly maintains that she's helping him. During her inter-snooping hours, she runs The Cookie Jar, a coffee shop serving and selling the goodies Hannah bakes in the back of the store. Her supplies are delivered daily by Ron LaSalle, whom she often passes on her way to work. On this fateful day, Ron's truck is soon parked behind the store, but he fails to reappear. When Hannah finds him seated in the truck, the window open, a bullet through his chest, she's inspired to work her way through the townspeople, looking for a motive for Ron's death, even as she manfully resists her widowed mother's attempts to find her a husband. The annual bash given by wealthy Del and Judith Woodley pairs Hannah with pleasant dentist Norman Rhodes, but Hannah is soon caught up by the latest scandal: the disappearance of Nat Turner, owner of the huge Cozy Cow Dairy, who didn't show at the Buttermakers Convention, where he was to make the opening speech. Needless to say, it's Hannah who finds Max's body and evidence of the loan-sharking activities that provide a likely motive for his murder. Hannah's a likable sort despite her bent for taking over; the author's style is easygoing if slowed by too much inane chatter. In all: a modestly entertaining debut with some delectable recipes as a bonus.
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on April 1, 2001
For a series debut, the book holds promise. However, there are some things that make it somewhat tedious and annoying.
For some reason, the author felt compelled to overuse the character's names, both in their individual scenes (Hannah went into the bedroom to change her clothes. Ten minutes later, Hannah went and sat on the couch. Hannah then reached over to pet the cat) and in dialogue ("What's up, Hannah?" "I need to talk to you, Bill." "Okay, Hannah, what is it?" "Well, Bill, it's like this..." This wasn't a very difficult book to follow along, so I found this constant use of the character's names to be very distracting, to the point of annoyance.
I also don't understand where Ms. Fluke is going with Bill, the brother-in-law. The book indicates he's a good cop who asked Hannah to help him solve the crime to make detective...yet he couldn't seem to make a move without checking it with Hannah first or asking her what he should do next. In most stories of this type, the officials usually discourage civilian involvement, but in this case, not only was it being encouraged, the civilian was made to look more competent than the official.
Hopefully these little things will improve as the author goes along, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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on February 24, 2001
Hannah Swensen makes her debut in this culinary series. Hannah, a thirtyish spinster, is under constant pressure from her mother to get married. It's obvious that Hannah is a candidate for sainthood, as she is more than patient with her mother's constant telephone calls and criticisms. What's more, she's a great baker, and she nicely provides us with terrific (the best I've ever seen!) instructions on how to bake all those high-calorie cookies mentioned throughout THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MURDER. There's even an index at the back of the book so you can easily locate the recipe you want. What a woman! And she has a great cat. The scenes showing Hannah's relationship with her cat Moishe are heartwarming.
Oh, the mystery. Yes, there's a mystery, and it's even logical that Hannah would be involved in snooping around town (she wants to help her policeman brother-in-law solve the case and earn a promotion). Unfortunately, I felt Hannah was a bit slow to figure some things out, as certain things were clear to me quite early in the book. However, for the most part Hannah was a clever amateur detective, and I remained glued to the story until the last page. I very much look forward to the next book in this series, and I think most cozy lovers will find this series delightful.
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on May 24, 2000
Hannah Swensen, Lake Eden resident and owner of The Cookie Jar, agrees to help her police officer brother-in-law, Bill, solve the murder of the local dairy deliveryman to help Bill achieve a promotion to detective. Bill certainly didn't have to try very hard to convince Hannah to help him. Hannah seems to be less of an amateur sleuth and more a seasoned detective. Fluke could have made this book a police procedural because Hannah uncovers clues and pursues each lead single-mindedly interrogating and eliminating suspects. Her brother-in-law begins to look slow and slightly stupid. At one point he asks Hannah if there is anything else he should be doing to investigate the crime and he's the police officer!
The book includes several cookie recipes, but don't expect the preparation and cooking to take a main role in this book, as they do in other culinary mysteries, such as in Diane Mott Davidson's books. Hannah pursues the murderer with focus and determination. Her livelihood, baking cookies, fades into the background. Fluke does introduce some interesting characters with unexpected twists, which make them realistic. There are also hints of possible romantic relationships for Hannah, which Fluke will explore in the next book, one hopes!
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on August 27, 2000
The book was a pleasurable read.........Hannah Swenson, 30 year old unmarried lady, and owner of a coffeeshop/catering business called "The Cookie Jar", is a great character...filled with wit and charm....oh, and what a baker she is!! Living in a small Minnesota town of Lake Eden with her cat, Moisha, she discovers the body of Ron, a young man who often makes her deliveries of goodies to her customers....he was found sitting in his truck with a bullet hole in him.... It's highly unlikely that any policeman would ask a civilian for help in a mystery, but that's what her brother-in-law, the sheriff did....in spite of that, it was a cute read with good dialogue and likeable characters..........Loved how Hannah's mom was always trying to play "matchmaker".....am looking forward to more reads and more tasty cookie recipes to try!
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on September 8, 2001
I enjoyed this book, but have two quibbles. I agree with previous reviewers who mentioned that Hannah took too much control of the investigation away from the police detective. I found this too unrealistic, and it made the detective look stupid. The second problem is the Mike Kingston character who was introduced at the end. Hannah was extremely attracted to him, but later when they are together with the others for dinner, Mike is completely left out of the story! And then he asks Hannah out on a date. I felt like a page was missing out of the book or something. There should have been more interaction between Hannah and Mike in the epilogue, especially if the author is going to pursue this relationship in her next book.
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on July 28, 2002
I truly enjoyed reading this book. I found the characters to be very believable; people I would like to know. Ms. Fluke hooked me at the very beginning - which is very important to me. There were enough twists to keep the story interesting and the story moved along at very good pace. I would definately recommend this book. I plan to read the other books in this series and look forward to more in the future.
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on July 10, 2003
I never knew cookies could be such fun. I loved this mystery for
the mystery and the recipes. YEAH Definite winner.
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