Okay, I’m going to admit it. I am a big fan of cozy murder mysteries. I know that most of them are not the height of masterful literature nor do many of them make it to the NY Times Best sellers list. However, they do provide the reader with a cozy, warm feeling like that of a fuzzy warm blanket on a cold winter’s night.
In particular, I enjoy the Joanne Fluke series based on baker, Hannah Swensen. It definitely appeals to both the cozy reader as well as the baker in me. The story lines are interesting and the recipes are to-die for! The recipes are not for the health conscious, but as my kids and their friends will attest to, the cookies are delicious and rival any product from a high-end bakery. I guess the main appeal of the series is the inclusion of the sugary, rich recipes and their descriptions. It’s almost like reading a fun cook book. In that way, Joanne Fluke’s series is holds its own among a genre that is literally “overcrowded”.
I think Hallmark fans also find the storylines appealing, since the series has been taken on by the network as a movie series starting Allison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison. To be honest, I actually enjoy the movies more than the books (which is a definite first for me!).
The main character , Hannah, runs The Cookie Jar, a small town bakery based in cold Minnesota. Fluke does emphasize the cold, wintry Minnesota weather frequently, and I think it provides a nice back drop to to the warm atmosphere of the cookie bakery. In her earlier novels, Hannah has been dating a dentist, Norman, who is a favorite of her mother’s, a running character in the series of a helicopter mom interfering with her daughter’s romances. The other character Hannah has been dating is Mike, a policeman, who is written to have the sex appeal and chemistry that Normal seems to be lacking. In the Hallmark movies, Hannah is shown to develop a permanent relationship with Mike and the Norman/Mike competition is lacking in the movies (which is a big plus). The relationship choice of Mike helps the movie series concentrate more on the mystery plotline, which I feel makes the movies stand out as superior to the novels. Hannah’s two sisters are also characters in many of the Cookie Jar novels, and I enjoy the rapport between Hannah and both of them, especially that of Michelle, her younger sister. I guess the camaraderie is more evident between Hannah and Michelle since they are both single and roomates while the older sister, Andrea, is married with two cute little girls.
In Joanne Fluke’s prior book, Hannah ends up choosing a newly introduced love interest as her life partner. His name is Ross, and she ends up marrying him after a whirlwind romance, mainly based on their foundation of them previously knowing each other in college. This romance comprised the bulk of the prior book in the series, and I feel that this was a negative aspect of the series. It felt strange that Hannah would choose Ross after all the books in the series focused on her choosing between Norman and Mike.
Anyway, Ross “disappears” at the end of the previous book, and Raspberry Danish Murder centers around finding out the how and why behind Ross’ disappearance. Without adding any spoilers, the plot is interesting, and the recipes, like always, do not disappoint. With help from Mike, Lonnie, Mike’s assistant policeman, Norman, and Hannah’s sisters Michelle and Andrea, the mystery is finally solved.
For those readers who enjoy cozy mysteries and recipes, these books will be right up their alley as long as they can get past the writing style which is elementary at best. In addition, the characters tend to be one-dimensional, again due to the writing. I feel that Joanne Fluke’s main strength are her baking recipes!
Click on the link to start reading the book yourself! I would love to hear your thoughts! //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=storybooktree-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=1617732249&asins=1617732249&linkId=78d9a708f0e0874073cf386330a1dc11&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff