Spring has sprung in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and business at the cute and cozy Cookie Jar is booming. Busy providing a wealth and variety of homemade cookies for bridal and baby showers, school picnics and other functions, Hannah Swensen’s time and energy are stretched to the max. With all she has to do, she is running on nothing more than adrenalin, caffeine and minimal sleep. The last thing she needs is another obligation, but as usual, that’s the very thing she gets.
When Mayor Bascomb’s wife, Sheila, asks Hannah to provide a thousand cookies on short notice for a charity event, Hannah is prepared to nix the idea immediately. There just isn’t time to meet such a demand. But before she can do that, her business partner, Lisa, does it for her. As an alternative, Lisa offers to donate half the profits from the sale of apple turnovers. Never mind that neither Hannah nor Lisa has ever made or sold them. As usual, though, there are plenty of willing helpers in Lake Eden, and the apple turnover situation eventually gets under control.
Herb, Lisa’s husband, needs an assistant for his magic act for the charity talent show. Based on previous experience, Hannah is the best choice for the role. While not exactly enthused, she agrees to help out. Unfortunately, that means pouring herself into a dreaded purple evening dress. The only thing worse than wearing this much-hated garment for the occasion is running into a much-hated ex-lover there.
Bradford Ramsey is a smarmy, community college professor for whom Hannah fell hard back in her own college days. While it’s bad enough to have to face this lying cheater again, it’s even worse when she finds out he has his sights set on her little sister, Michelle. The fight is on. Before Hannah can formulate a plan to stop this monster in his tracks, someone else does it for her. Bradford is dead, and the line of suspects is long, including Hannah herself. It’s time to get to the bottom of this mess and put a killer behind bars. But where do you begin when a man has two ex-wives, countless spurned lovers and their mates, and a multitude of other enemies from his academic career?
To top it all off, Hannah’s heart is still torn between two men: Norman, the steady and dependable dentist, and Mike, the too-sexy-for-his-own-good officer of the law. Unfortunately, instead of vying for her attentions, the two men are both behaving bizarrely. Mike is encouraging her to marry Norman, and Norman’s ardor for Hannah seems to have cooled. What is a girl to do when her love life is feast or famine?
What she does is get busy baking, sleuthing and taking care of her ever-demanding companion, Moishe, the wayward kitty. Instead of pondering her love life, Hannah tracks down one suspect after another to get to the bottom of Bradford’s murder and places herself in danger in the process. Murderers have a funny way of getting violent when you get too close to the truth.
As is always the case with Joanne Fluke’s books, APPLE TURNOVER MURDER is a fast and fun read. It’s a hoot to connect with the old gang and see what’s happening in Lake Eden. A multitude of recipes for all the delicious fare that Hannah and her friends and family concoct is an added bonus, and any reader is guaranteed to be ravenous by the time they’re halfway through the novel.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on December 22, 2010