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Revelvet

A wholesome, but fiercely independent, young woman in rural Minnesota isn’t exactly who comes to mind when a murder needs to be solved. Yet, author Joanne Fluke has developed quite the following with her Hannah Swensen mysteries. The only explanation I can surmise lies in the fact that Hannah, who fits the above depiction, is also a baker extraordinaire and it’s worth the easy reading to get some new recipes.

Fluke’s most recent addition to the Hannah Swensen oeuvre is Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, which had been on The New York Times Best Seller’s List for several weeks. That, along with my own penchant for cupcakes, is what drew me to the book. Nonetheless, my expectations, fortunately, were not high, so I was not  disappointed.

Hannah lives in Lake Eden, a small town, where she owns the Cookie Jar, a bakery and coffee shop. The story begins with her catering the opening of a renovated hotel. The cupcakes are a featured attraction, along with several delicious-sounding baked goods. Readers are immediately introduced (or for those Hannah followers re-introduced) to Hannah’s mother, sister, love interests (yes, plural) and friends. Hannah’s nemesis from an earlier book reappears on the scene.

It doesn’t take long for an accident to occur, which requires a lot of cooking on Hannah’s part to help make people feel better. Soon thereafter someone is murdered, and instead of being part of the unofficial investigation, Hannah becomes a suspect. Somehow, thanks to friends and family, the bakery continues to serve the delicious sweets it is known for, and readers can continue to drool over their descriptions.

All of the delectables include clever names to fit the situation. Among them are Razzle Dazzle Brownies, Tickled Pink Lemonade Cookies, Snappy Turtle Pie and the Red Velvet Cupcakes with a Surprise Filling — the storyline is so predictable it’s nice there is at least one revelation that truly unfolds.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder
Three Bookmarks
Kenninsgton Books, 2013
323 pages, including recipes

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