Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week, I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

This week it’s a cozy mystery from the Murder, She Baked series by Joanne Fluke.

I’ve been reading the series from the first, The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Each book includes recipes. Most are for cookies, but there are some for casseroles, cakes, and other asty foods.

The first book is now a movie that received tremendous ratings on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. That channel isn’t in my package, so I haven’t seen it, but I’m a Hannah fan and hope I can get it soon.

the Cream Puff Murder:

Bakery owner Hannah Swensen has a dress to fit into and a Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Flukedate with her sister, Andrea, at Lake Eden’s new health club, Heavenly Bodies. Dragging herself out of bed on a frigid Minnesota morning for exercise, of all things, is bad enough. Discovering the body of man-eating bombshell Ronni Ward floating in the gym’s jacuzzi? Okay, that’s worse. Nor does it help that there’s a plate of The Cookie Jar’s very own cream puffs garnishing the murder scene.

Trying to narrow the list of Ronni’s enemies down to fewer than half the town’s female population, Hannah has her plate full. Trouble is, when it comes to cookies–and to murder–there’s always room for one more. . .

“Foodie fans will eat up Fluke’s cozy. . . A fluffy mix of sweets and suspense.” —Publishers Weekly

“Entertaining and sprinkled with tempting recipes. It’s a sweet treat of a novel.” —The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

“A tasty treat.” —Kirkus Reviews

Did I find this book to be a worthy read?

Fun Recipes

Some cozy mystery series bring in an interesting added element that draws readers. The amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen owns a shop called The Cookie Jar. Every book has recipes the reader can make.  I’ve read a bunch of the books and just made one of the recipes for the first time.

My dad loves pistachios, and when I found the recipe in this boo, I HAD to make them for him on his upcoming visit. Here’s a photo.

Pistachio CookiesAn Engaging Core Cast

  Cozies have a core cast with whom the reader becomes involed. This series follow Hannah, her pushy mother, her sisters, love interests, and various people in the town

Hannah’s “slaydar” upsets her mother but is the basis for her crime solving. I enjoy the cast of characters. Ronni Ward, offed in this story, has been in several of the books. Typical o the cozy, the victim is often someone many people will not miss.

In a world in which shows and books are getting progressively more brutal and graphic, I appreciate ones that are a bit cleaner.

Fluke does a great job across the series of creating an interesting town full of people who have different personalities, goals, strengths and foibles.

Funny But Ridiculous Plot elements

I love the series, but this is my least favorite in terms of the plot. There are a few things that, while funny, simply are too ridiculous to work.

The entire police force recuse themselves or are under suspicion of committing murder, so they can’t investigate.  Yeah, right. My willing suspension of disbelief won’t let go that far. It caused some funny scenes, with them running messages through Hannah’s family members to get her to investigate the murder.

In case you have never heard the term, “willing suspension of disbelief” is what allows a reader of a book or viewer of a show or movie to enter the world of the story and allow for things like Harry Potter’s magic or amateur sleuths solving crimes for the police.

If the whole police force being unable to work a case wasn’t wacko enough, a big city cop came to take over and also deferred to a baker/amateur sleuth. That was WAY too far over the line of disbelief.

Your plot still has to make some sort of sense, even though cozy lovers are willing to put up with more wooly logic than true crime enthusiasts, but still, the plot needs to track.

Also, one of the auxiliary goals for Hannah is to lose enough weight to fit into a dress for her mother’s book signing. Exercising and eating a lot of tasteless chicken (why when there are so many more tasty things to make or even tasty ways to fix chicken that are tasty and healthy?) she manages to lose about 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Yeah, right.

So while this easy read was more entertaining than some other things, it isn’t a favorite. And yet, I am still a Hannah fan.

Sticking wit the Series

Even though this isn’t my favorite, I am still a Hannah fan and will definitely keep reading the series. Every book can’t be fabulous, right?

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I love this series and hope you will too.

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Ronda Del Boccio

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