Synopsis as provided on book:
When the president of Hartland Flour chooses cosy Lake Eden, Minnesota, as the spot for their first annual Dessert Bake-Off, Hannah is thrilled to serve as the head judge. But when a fellow judge, Coach Boyd Watson, is found stone-cold dead, facedown in Hannah’s celebrated strawberry shortcake, Lake Eden’s sweet ride to fame turns very sour indeed.Between perfecting her Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie and Chocolate Crunchies, Hannah’s snooping into the coach’s private life and not coming up short on suspects. And could Watson’s harsh criticism during the judging have given one of the contestants a license to kill? The stakes are rising faster than dough, and Hannah will have to be very careful, because somebody is cooking up a recipe for murder…with Hannah landing on the ‘necessary ingredients’ list. This title includes seven delicious recipes!
This is the second book in the Hannah Swenson series and I enjoyed it as much as the first. Unfortunately Fluke has repeated quite a lot of information that was provided in ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder’, and it really wasn’t necessary. The flow and conversational tone of the prose remains and Fluke has created a nice little world that I find very believable. A few stereotypes are creeping in, I’m not sure that they weren’t there in book one, I think maybe I didn’t notice because we were meeting the characters for the first time so it was OK for some details to be sketchy and I could fill in the blanks myself. This time around however, Hannah’s Mother and Sister don’t really grow as characters, nor do the love interests. It’s a little odd but totally forgivable, because of the believability and continuing likeability of Hannah, plus this is a nice mystery. It moves along at a reasonable pace with plenty of decent suspects and a decent plot. Fluke sometimes over tells e.g. “when Hannah woke……she felt 90% better…….the coffee was ready…She inhaled the steam and felt the remaining ten percent better, bringing her up to a hundred percent”. I don’t know about you but I happen to know that 90 + 10 = 100 and it’s little moments like this that burst the reader bubble for me. It feels as though Fluke doesn’t trust us to remember facts from the previous book or work out anything for ourselves. It’s a shame but I still recommend ‘Strawberry Shortcake Murder’.
The recipes are interesting this time, there are seven in total with 2 that are suitable for coeliacs including an interesting egg custard. I haven’t made any of the recipes, I read the books for the whodunnits rather than baking tips, but I enjoy the fun of it and maybe I will have a bash at that egg custard.