Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Devil's Food Cake Murder

Summary: These days, everyone in Lake Eden, Minnesota, is buzzing with activity, and Hannah Swensen is no exception. But no matter how busy she may be, Hannah can always find time to help a friend in need—especially when he’s been murdered…

Hannah Swensen has to admit that her life is pretty sweet. Things are going well in the romance department, and her bakery’s delectable confections are selling almost as fast as she can bake them. Even her good friend Claire is on Cloud Nine, head over heels with her new husband, Reverend Bob Knudson. If only they could find time to take their honeymoon!

When Bob’s childhood friend, Matthew Walters, comes to town, it seems like divine intervention. Matthew, like Bob, is a Lutheran minister with a stubborn sweet tooth. Since he’s on sabbatical, Matthew is happy to fill in for Bob while he and Claire take that long-awaited honeymoon. It sounds like the perfect plan—until Hannah finds Matthew in the rectory, face-down in a plate full of Devil’s Food Cake, a single bullet in his head.

Determined to find out who killed Matthew, Hannah starts asking questions—and discovers that the good Reverend wasn’t quite the saintly fellow he appeared to be. But could the gold Sacagawea coins in Sunday’s collection plate hold the key to solving the crime? Or is the murder connected to that big jewel heist out in Minneapolis? Is it possible that Matthew’s love of chocolate somehow led to his downfall? It will take some more digging to find out, but Hannah is sure of one thing: even the most half-baked murder plot can be oh so deadly… -- Kensington 

It's been a long time since I've picked up one of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen Mysteries, but I do remember having some fond memories of these cozies. As a dessert lover, I am drawn to the yummy-sounding titles as well as the colorful covers; however, I also like the mysteries and the characters. The latest novel in the series is called DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER, and I thought it was a quick and fun read.

If you are not familiar with the Hannah Swensen Mysteries, Hannah is the owner of a small cookie store/bakery in Lake Eden, Minnesota. (As a result, she makes lots of different dessert recipes and she's kind enough to share her recipes!) Despite the quaint surroundings, Lake Eden has its fair share of crimes -- namely murders; and Hannah, with the help of her family and friends, likes to spend her spare time solving crimes.

In DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER, the murder takes place at the local church -- thus the tie-in with the Devil part of the title! Matthew Walters, a minister who grew up in Lake Eden returns to fill in for Bob while he is away on his honeymoon with Claire. Matthew has changed a great deal since his childhood, and some of his behavior is downright questionable. When Hannah goes searching for a missing Matthew, she is shocked to find him dead in his office. Needless to say, Hannah finds herself right smack in the middle of a murder investigation.

One of my absolutely favorite things about the Hannah Swenson Mysteries (and especially DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER) is that there are loads of recipes -- 25 in this book alone! Of course, most of them are for desserts, but there are even a few main dish and side dish recipes. Some of the ones that really stood out to me were Carrot-Oatmeal Muffins, Raspberry Vinegar Cookies, and the Chocolate-Covered Raisin Cookies. I particularly enjoyed that the recipes were written in very easy-to-understand directions and they even include variations as well as notes from Hannah.

DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER was just cute and a fun way to escape for a few hours. The murder wasn't overly complex, but there were a few twists and turns along the way. In addition to the crime, the reader is also given an inside glimpse into Hannah's personal life -- both with her mother, sisters, and her romantic interests. I enjoyed reading DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER and wouldn't hesitate to read more of this series -- especially if the recipes in the other books are as good as these.

If you are a fan of cozies like I am, then I recommend DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER. My only warning is that you will get dessert cravings while reading this mystery!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I like these Joanna Fluke mysteries too, but they always make me hungry! :--)

bermudaonion said...

I've never read any of Fluke's mysteries but any book with recipes in it appeals to me. I love dessert recipes!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think it is clever to mix mysteries with other topics of interest, like baking, or knitting, or cats, or bookstores. I think it may be forming a small niche, after all not everyone is going to care about baking (if they don't though, we should hold them down and make them eat a cookie).

Anonymous said...

I really like the Hannah Swensen mysteries. I have this one as well, I can't wait to read it.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Is it weird that despite the title that cover makes me hungry? :) Hmmm...