Carrot Cake Murder
Kensington, March 2008, $22.00, 336 pp.
The Cookie Jar owner Hannah Swensen is helping her business partner Lisa get ready for the big family reunion in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Relatives from all over the country are arriving and Lisa’s mother-in-law Marge is hoping that her brother Gus Herman will somehow hear of it and come. He left a quarter of a century ago in the middle of the night without telling anyone, leaving his family heartbroken and many residents angry because he vanished with their money.
To the family’s shock he does arrive dressed in an Armani suit, wearing a Rolex and driving a Jaguar. He flaunts his success which doesn’t endear him to many people. When Gus doesn’t show up for the reunion picture Hannah is dispatched to find him. At the Lake Pavilion, she finds his body, a wound on his chest. Marge and Lisa ask her to find the killer and resident Mac tells Hannah he saw Lisa’s father, Jack Herman walking around the time Gus was killed. Jack suffers from Alzheimer’s disease so his memories can’t be relied upon; the whole town knows that Jack and Gus had a fight before Gus left town. Jack also showed his anger towards at the reunion. Refusing to believe Jack could be the killer; Hannah continues to investigate and almost becomes the second victim.
Joanne Fluke writes a delightful and charming regional cerebral cozy. The protagonist uses her mind to discover the clues that lead to the killer’s identity and it is a pleasure to see a heroine who is not afraid to show her intelligence to the town’s residents. Hannah is the ultimate feminist a person who remains true to herself and refuses to conform to society’s female paragon.