Fudge Cupcake Murder

By Joanne Fluke

(This is book five in the series, after Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Blueberry Muffin Murder, and Lemon Meringue Pie Murder)

Here is a brief synopsis from the Kobo website:

Bakery owner Hannah Swensen just can’t keep her hands out of the batter when murder stirs things up in Lake Eden, Minnesota, leaving the sheriff dead, a deputy accused, and a killer on the loose[. . .]For years, Sheriff Grant’s been the iron hand in town. But now, Hannah’s brother-in-law Bill is giving the old blowhard the fight of his long, dubious career–and Grant’s not taking it well, especially once the polls show Bill pulling ahead. But before anyone can taste victory, things go sour. While Hannah’s emptying the trash, she makes a very unappetizing discovery: Sheriff Grant’s body in the Dumpster behind the high school where she’s teaching her cooking class[…] The number one–and only–suspect is Bill, but Hannah’s not swallowing it. Plenty of people had reason to hate Sheriff Grant. Soon, Hannah’s dishing up scandalous secrets, steaming hot betrayals, and enough intrigue to keep the gossip mill at The Cookie Jar going through several pots of decaf.

This is another enjoyable Hannah Swenson murder mystery, with a baking mystery thrown in: while Hannah is trying to clear her brother in law and solve Sheriff Grant’s murder, she is also working on a local cookbook full of recipes submitted by townspeople. Each recipe is tested by Hannah’s cooking class, and things are going according to plan until she is given a cupcake recipe that fails to identify the crucial secret ingredient.

I enjoyed the cupcake mystery. It was an amusing little subplot that gave me major cupcake cravings! The main story was good too. I figured out who the killer was around chapter 23, but didn’t sort out the ‘why’ until the end. I have come to realize that these books are much more enjoyable if I just let Hannah sort everything out for me, instead of trying to beat her to it!

The romances between Hannah and her two suitors, Mike and Norman, seem to be heating up as well, but I can’t see this going on for much longer before she has to make some sort of choice. Otherwise it just becomes a bit forced and not quite believable that either of these guys would be cool with her continuing to date both of them at the same time.

There is also the beginning of a romance for Hannah’s overbearing mother, which should prove to be quite  interesting in the next book. It’s about time someone other than Hannah got a boyfriend!

Overall, I enjoyed this book; however, I felt that there was not much in the way of wrapping things up. It sort of felt like the killer was revealed, and then there was a brief chapter on the aftermath without much to it, and then it was over. I was actually expecting one last chapter, and was surprised to realize that the book was finished. If you’ve been reading the other Hannah Swenson books, though, I would recommend that you continue the series with this one.

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