by Joanne Fluke
“Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series Book 1)” is an entertaining story with an intriguing plot that features many twists and turns, and memorable characters you can relate to. Joanne Fluke is the author of this impressive book. Hannah Swenson demonstrates the rewards of patience in both crime-solving and teenage counseling in Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Great Plot, great characterization combine for a great read in this book. A good story to start a series with interesting characters that have good growth potential. This is the first book in the long-running Hannah Swensen mystery series and introduces us to the characters in the small town where Hannah lives, Lake Eden in Minnesota. Hannah runs a popular shop, The Cookie Jar, and works with her assistant Lisa Herman. Hannah’s sister Andrea is married to Deputy Sheriff Bill Todd, who is aiming to be promoted to detective and Hannah’s mother takes every opportunity to find a suitable husband for her and interfere in her life. One morning, Hannah discovers the body of the dairy delivery man shot dead in his van Ron la Salle was a local football hero, who seemed to be without an enemy in the world.
Immediately, Hannah throws herself into helping her brother in law, Bill, solve the mystery and gain his promotion. There are a lot of plus points to this series – the author has given Hannah some human traits, such as being slightly caustic and unfeeling at times, rather than being the usual paragon of perfection shown in these types of cozy mysteries. This makes her seem more realistic, as do the family and friends she is surrounded with, which flesh out her character. On the minus side, there is the other staple of such cozy books a pet with seemingly human feelings, in this case, a huge cat called Moishe, which the author gives far too much time writing about. Also, the fact that Hannah seems to follow up leads which, to the reader, seem obvious and yet she always seems to reach before Bill gets there. Saying all that, this is a fairly typical mystery with the added interest of cookie recipes at the end of chapters and a bonus novella at the end of the book, “Candy for Christmas”, which is set shortly after this book and deals with the story of a teenage runaway hiding in the shop.