Title: Apple Turnover Murder
Author: Joanne Fluke
Review: Are you hungry? In my effort to try more “local” authors I perused the mystery section of my local library and “discovered” a Minnesota series by Joanne Fluke. Going through my cozy checklist I find all the elements present – lovable heroine who is smarter than people think, quirky family, multiple love interests that she can’t quite commit to, a small town filled with interesting characters, and a murder rate on par with Deadwood. But this book added a relatively new element (for me) found in a lot of modern cozies – a overall twist found throughout the series. In Fluke’s case her heroine is a baker, and as such she takes every opportunity to work though her problems by baking a variety of desserts. All recipes are found throughout the book complete with cooking instructions.
The more cynical side of me thinks she just does this as space filler because the books are too short, but the recipes are worked into the narrative quite well (no clunky segues) and you find yourself getting hungry reading them. Though I would like to see if she ever makes a treat and have the characters in the book go “God that was just awful.” The mystery proper was okay and this happens to be the number 13 in a series of 15 so far. Once you are familiar with the basic format of a cozy, it was no problem to step in that far into the series and no what was going on. That said if I revisit this series I will definitely start back at book one because that is how I am.
So if you like cozy or like to bake desserts this series will do you proud. If you like doing both, then these books should be canonized right next to your Bible. Most of the location plot could have taken place in any small town and was not very Minnesota specific (i.e. the reason I picked up the book to begin with). For a stronger Minnesota experience be sure to read John Sandford or Julie Kramer.
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Pages: 292 pages
Quick Review: 3 stars
Why I Read it: I picked it up as a digital book to listen to as I worked on my house remodel, plus it is a Minnesota mystery.
Where I Obtained the Book: At my local library
Synopsis: It's June in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and for Hannah Swensen, that means bridal showers galore, plus a massive fundraising event in need of confections—not to mention a killer who never learned that charity begins at home...
Early summer brings plenty of work for Hannah, even before Mayor Bascomb's wife drops by The Cookie Jar to place an order ...for eleven-hundred cookies! Stephanie Bascomb is organizing an elaborate three-day event to support local charities, and though it's a worthy cause, Hannah almost flips when her business partner, Lisa, suggests setting up an apple turnover stand. Hannah's never made a turnover—but, pushover that she is, she places her faith in Lisa's mother-in-law's recipe and agrees to be a magician's assistant in the fundraiser's talent show...
Dozens of pastries and one hideous purple dress later, Hannah has to admit that stepping out of her comfort zone has been fun as well as profitable. The only snag is the show's host, community college professor Bradford Ramsey. Hannah and her younger sister Michelle each had unfortunate romantic relationships with Ramsey, and when the cad comes sniffing around between acts, Hannah tells him off. But when the curtain doesn't go up, she discovers Ramsey backstage—dead as a doornail with a turnover in his hand...
Now, to protect her reputation and Michelle's, Hannah must get to the bottom of the professor's bitter end. There are plenty of scorned suspects, including an ex-wife who feels cheated in more ways than one, and a prominent local who may have been using Ramsey to avenge her own randy spouse. But who was unstable enough to snuff out Professor Love? A killer who's flakier than puffpastry—and far more dangerous...
Includes Over Ten Cookie and Dessert Recipes!
Author Biography: Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota where her neighbors were friendly, the winters were fierce, and the biggest scandal was the spotting of unidentified male undergarments on a young widow's clothesline. She insists that there really are 10,000 lakes and the mosquito is NOT the state bird.
While pursuing her writing career, Joanne has worked as: a public school teacher, a psychologist, a musician, a private detective's assistant, a corporate, legal, and pharmaceutical secretary, a short order cook, a florist's assistant, a caterer and party planner, a computer consultant on a now-defunct operating system, a production assistant on a TV quiz show, half of a screenwriting team with her husband, and a mother, wife, and homemaker.
She now lives in Southern California with her husband, her kids, his kids, their three dogs, one elderly tabby, and several noisy rats in the attic.