Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder – Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swenson is the owner of The Cookie Jar, determinedly single with an overbearing mother who is determined to marry her off, and a cat Moshie who found and adopted her. Hannah thinks her life is quite nice, works hard and enjoys it all, that she is happy with her lot in Lake Eden, Minnesota and then she finds a body of someone she knows.

Ron the delivery driver of the local dairy is the body found dead near Hannah’s cafe in his truck with Hannah’s cookies around him. I immediately thought poison, but no the cookies are Ron’s favourites and one of the many that Hannah and her assistant Lisa bake. It was a gunshot, but why was he shot and for what reason? In steps Bill the Sherriff who also happens to be Hannah’s brother in law and Hannah sees herself as Bill’s assistant or snitch as she tries to help solve the murder. However a key witness is missing and Hannah with the help of sister does some of their own detective work and end up with more than they bargained for.

Amongst all this detective work and fending off her mother’s possible love matches Hannah runs her business and spends her time catering for local community events with her renowned cookies. Fluke generously shares these recipes with us all. My mouth was watering after reading all about them. Please be aware for English readers that the measurements are “American” but perhaps some of them are worth a try if cooking is your thing.

This is no doubt pitched as cosy crime and it comes up to that – just. The plot is rather thin and drawn out in parts, and was perhaps not as gripping as other cosy crime books I have read of late. It was gentle enough (despite the murder!) and I do like the community feel that these books have and the added bonus of the cookies means if you know someone who cooks this could be a book for them.  It also has a bonus short story with a Christmas theme.

I found this book challenging to review, not because it was a literary classic and required a lot of thought but because it is too easy to give away everything. The cynic in me often thinks when I read these cosy crime how do these lead characters suddenly get caught up in finding murderers. If you had found a body, would you suddenly want to avenge that crime and find the perpetrator? Probably not, but this is how these cosy crimes work you have to leave these thoughts behind and just enjoy. 

Nonetheless it is what I call absolute pure escapism and you can read the book, (and the next) and then leave it. The only thing that stays is the recipes! Some ideas, that I may well try out when next baking. There are 14 in the series so far, and I assume that by the next title Strawberry Shortcake Murder there will be some recipes of that ilk in amongst the story.

Reading this book made me feel I was being naughty by eating shop bought cookies and not making them myself. In other words I was not reading a book of any particular value! A bizarre correlation but one that I do feel guilty on occasions reading. This all reflects my eclectic reading habits!