Kensington Press · February 2019 · 304 pgs
19 years and 26 books show that Joanne Fluke offers a great deal to readers with her Hannah Swensen series. I reviewed her first book, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder a few months ago and was glad to visit The Cookie Jar once again.
What I Like About This Book
The Concept. I think an amateur sleuth who is a bakery owner is a great concept. She knows everyone, and everyone knows her. Gossip and clues frequent her bakery’s coffee shop front and what a better excuse for talking to people than to bring them a plate of the newest cookies to try.
The recipes contained personal notes from the main character. Instead of just talking about various cookie recipes in the novel, Fluke provides instructions for the new cookie recipes her main character collects or creates. This is fine, but I love the way she links it to the story by providing helpful notes from the bakery owner and main character, Hannah Swensen. That takes it to the next level. Now, if she found a way to provide clues within the recipe directions, that would be the pièce de résistance.
The setting. It’s a cozy mystery in a cozy setting. I always imagine the characters are having their endless platefuls of cookies and hot beverages in front of a warm crackling fire. This creates a warm and inviting story that readers are happy to visit. Even the murders that take don’t detract from the warm coziness of the world Fluke created.
The characters can eat platefuls of cookies daily without consequences. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful bakery that could provide you with tasty treats without calories or carb counts?
What I Wish
The murder had taken place in the first quarter of the book.
What I wish is that this book in the series had followed the conventional mystery set-up where the crime happens in the first quarter of the book and the amateur sleuth digs into the who-done-it for the remainder, with everything leading up to the great-reveal. It wasn’t even an inverted mystery that describes the crime then shows the detective figuring it out. It was just a prolonged build up to a crime – the crime itself – then immediately following is the great-reveal. No puzzle solving for the reader to participate in which was disappointing.
The novel had been in a bonafide who-done-it format.
I missed the red herrings and trying to figure out the puzzle as it felt like Fluke points neon arrows to the criminal the moment he/she (not giving it away) was introduced.
There hadn’t been so many details about food and cooking.
I wish that there hadn’t been so much emphasis and description on everything cooked and eaten. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading about all the food consumed. I felt like I was reading a cookbook that had a little mystery story in it to add something special to the cookbook when it should have been the other way around.
To Read or Not to Read
For lovers of the who-done-it puzzle, this book could prove frustrating, but to fans of Hannah Swensen, this book is a welcome return to The Cookie Jar. If you are a prospective reader wondering if you’d like it, I would recommend giving the novel a read, especially if you enjoy cookies.