Plot summary (with spoilers): Shawna Lee Quinn has been a thorn in Hannah Swensen’s side ever since Shawna Lee came to Lake Eden. That’s because the displaced Georgia Peach constantly fawns over Mike Kingston, one of Hannah’s boyfriends. And to make matters worse, Shawna Lee and her wealthy sister Vanessa have recently opened the Magnolia Blossom Bakery right across the street from Hannah’s own Cookie Jar. Ever since the Magnolia Blossom opened, customers have been flocking there, putting Hannah in the red on a daily basis.
There’s not much time to worry about that, however, as Lisa and Herb’s wedding day is quickly approaching. That’s the big event of the winter, so nearly the whole town turns out for the reception. Mike was supposed to meet Hannah there, and specifically told her to save the first and last dance for him. But he never showed and didn’t even bother to call. No matter, Norman, Hannah’s other boyfriend, was there and offers to meet Hannah back at the Cookie Jar for some coffee. Hannah arrives, notices all the lights on at the Magnolia Blossom even though it’s well past regular business hours, and goes over to take a look. That’s when she discovers Shawna Lee’s dead body in the kitchen.
Mike and the rest of the Lake Eden police force come out to gather evidence and interview potential witnesses. Mike specifically tells Hannah not to interfere in the investigation, but of course she doesn’t listen. With the help of Lisa, sister Andrea, Norman, and mother Dolores, Hannah looks for clues, tries to pin down alibis of potential suspects, and eventually comes face-to-face with the killer before being rescued at the last second — again.
- The only thing I like about this Hannah Swensen series is that the books are very short and easy to read. It only takes about a day or two to get through them, which is not much of a time investment at all.
- Check that. I also like the recipes, as some of them are actually quite tasty. Too bad I always end up needing a good natural acne treatment to get my skin back to normal after indulging in these rich treats!
- Joanne Fluke issues another cookie-cutter “murder mystery” with this book. Her formula goes like this: Big Lake Eden event that gets most of the townspeople in one place. Disliked/shady character and/or relative newcomer murdered. Hannah discovers body. Mike tells Hannah not to investigate. Hannah investigates. Hannah figures out who the murderer is. Hannah ends up alone with murderer and is about to be silenced (killed). Someone rescues Hannah. Only the details change with each book.
- I cannot stand how smug and hypocritical Hannah is. She loves correcting people about grammar, word usage, historical facts — anything and everything. If she’s that damn smart, why does she bake cookies for a living? Also, what gives her the right to be pissed off at Mike for seeing Shawna Lee on the side when HANNAH HAS NORMAN??? This has got to be the dumbest running plotline ever. Give me a break already!!!
- The murder didn’t take place until nearly 1/3 of the way through the book. Come on, Fluke! Your characters aren’t interesting enough to carry the story that far without any action!
- The murderer is almost always someone from outside Lake Eden. I’ve said it before about these books, but I’ll say it again. The town is just too small to have the killer be a local. Fluke would run out of characters that way. But at the same time, it makes solving the murders way too easy.
- So Dolores’ boyfriend Winthrop Harrington III was a fraud after all. He assumed a fake identity in order to scam rich old women out of their money, and was in on a plot with Vanessa. When he thought she double-crossed him, he shot her — not realizing until it was too late that he actually clipped Shawna Lee. Whatever. I just wrote this out for myself for future reference in case I ever need to recall who the killer was and why Shawna Lee was murdered. Read at your own risk!
The only reason I keep going with the Hannah Swesen mystery series is that I’ve got all the audiobooks on my iPod and can’t bear to just delete them without at least giving them a listen. Peach Cobbler Murder was not Fluke’s strongest effort, and I found myself only half-listening at times. Seriously, I’m amazed that Fluke has such wide readership that the Swensen series is allowed to continue. I give this book just 2 stars out of 5.