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Hannah Swensen #1

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

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Discover the delicious mystery that started it all!

No one cooks up a delectable, suspense-filled mystery quite like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke's dessert-baking, red-haired heroine whose gingersnaps are as tart as her comebacks, and whose penchant for solving crimes one delicious clue at a time has made her a bestselling favorite. And it all began on these pages, with a bakery, a murder, and some suddenly scandalous chocolate-chip crunchies. Featuring a bonus short story and brand new, mouthwatering recipes, this limited edition of the very first Hannah Swensen mystery is sure to have readers coming back for seconds.

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother's attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can't get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer.

Who would have the sheer audacity and the motive to kill the most punctual delivery man Hannah ever had? Topping the list is the high school football coach. What exactly was his wife doing, making the rounds with the milkman? Could Max Turner, owner of Cozy Cow Dairy, have had a secret he didn't want to share with his top employee? The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. Why has Lake Eden's most prominent prodigal son, Benton Woodley, just resurfaced? And what about the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed interested in buying the property next to the dairy, but then disappeared? This is one murder that's starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah's mouth. And if she doesn't watch her back, Hannah's sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

Filled with a healthy sprinkling of humor and a delightful assortment of nuts, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MURDER serves up a great new mystery series and introduces a delicious, down-home sleuth that mystery readers will surely savor for years to come.

436 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published April 1, 2000

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About the author

Joanne Fluke

100 books7,094 followers
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.

* Hannah Swensen

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Profile Image for Tracey.
1,078 reviews245 followers
May 25, 2023
The TL;DR version: This was one of the dumbest things I've ever read.

This was a stupid purchase – and a stupid thing to read, for that matter, but I did want something brainless in the middle of my Big Giant Fantasy Series. I got it. It is the first in the Hannah Swenson mystery series, which I didn’t know when I started it. I eventually caught on as the main character reacted to discovering her very first corpse. (She said something to the effect of not making a habit out of discovering bodies, and both my eyebrows went up, because as with all cozies that’s the backbone of the whole series … )

And now that I think of it, that, the fact that it took me so long to realize it was the first book, is relevant to this review. There should be more initial exposition in this *as* a first book, better introductions to the characters and the setting, etc. (I know, I know – if there had been floating chunks of infodump I would have complained about that. Life is tough. So is writing. Deal.) Late in the story there is a mention of how Hannah’s sister asked her to leave school and come home to help their mother cope after their father died … but that’s a kind of massive request to make, and a massive decision, and no real motivation or reaction given. Their mother is depicted as pretty much okay, apart from joining every club in town; in fact, Hannah avoids her as much as humanly possible, so what is Hannah's role here, apart from cookie baker? Did she resent being yanked away from her chosen course? How did the bakery come about? It is mentioned that it was the sister’s idea; why?

Don't know.

One thing that does pretty clearly indicate a first book is the level of writing. The stupidity level is high among the characters, and in the plot … and the other draw in a book like this, the cookie recipes scattered throughout, aren’t remotely original enough to make the book worth reading or buying as a cookbook. Some of Diane Mott Davidson's recipes have become staples for me. Here? Woohoo, ginger snaps and chocolate crinkles. I’ve been making extremely similar recipes since I was ten. And I don’t understand the logic of renaming what are basically chocolate crinkles from the Betty Crocker Cooky [sic] Book “Black-and-whites”, when Black-and-whites are usually another kind of cookie entirely.

/\ - Chocolate crinkle.

/\ - Black and white. Unless you're in this book, God help you.

Joanne Fluke falls prey to one of the things that irks me the most in bad writing: thesaurusitis. Instead of adhering to KISS, certain writers feel the need to keep a thesaurus open at their elbow to “prettify” their prose. Here, for nauseous example, are a couple of bits from the scene where Hannah gives her cat some ice cream (even the cats eat poorly in this town): rather than use the words “ice cream” again, it is called “the mound of icy white” and “this intriguing new foodstuff”. (New to the cat, that was. No “frozen confection”? How disapointing.) Should it bug me as much as it does when a writer feels impelled to make a lame stab at poetry when feeding a cat ice cream? Maybe not. But it really does. You’re not Lord Byron, love, nor is Lord Byron called for in this instance. Don’t.

The book’s plot runs thusly: Hannah Swenson owns and runs a cookie bakery in a small touristy town, and one morning in winter her milkman doesn’t show up to deliver as he always does – and she finds him shot dead in the alley behind her shop. Her brother-in-law is a cop, up for promotion, and the prevailing logic is that if he – with her help – can solve the murder, he’ll be all set. And he lets her.

Right there I already have a couple of issues, namely that this *is* a small town, and how on earth does the author expect me to believe that this woman survives solely on what she makes selling cookies and coffee? There is no cake in this shop, no bread, no sandwiches – just cookies, yet I’m supposed to swallow that the locals all flock in every day to buy dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies, and have her cater several events per month. (Well, as she ponders several times, some of her customers eat cookies for breakfast. I hope there’s a good gym and/or cardiologist or endocrinologist in town too. But maybe the town’s too small.) For one thing, in every other chapter Hannah is handing out a dozen free cookies here and a batch there; I don’t care if some of these people are family (and the local traffic cop), that would put a dent in one’s profits. For another thing, I don’t care if half that catering is prompted by her mother’s membership in all those clubs (and her brother-in-law’s position), why on earth would anyone want even a small event catered by someone who is going to provide only cookies, coffee, and tea? (“She had tea and coffee, both 'leaded' and 'unleaded,' and her best silver platters heaped high with cookies.”) And only a single type of cookie at that, based on what she talks about here: a book club meeting is provided with “Regency” ginger snaps and caffeinated beverages. (Don’t get me started on the character’s "whatever" attitude toward historical accuracy and how easy it was to pull one over on these stupid ladies… “She’d researched the period, but there were very few published recipes and none of them had sounded like cookies.” So - eh, go with gingersnaps. Close enough.) And yet she has enough money that she doesn’t have to worry about spending a moronic amount investigating the murder, while meanwhile lavishing expensive gifts on her assistant. (Because she makes enough to not only support herself but to employ an assistant.)

I know. I know. “Willing suspension of disbelief” is the main requirement for reading fiction, and I as a hardcore fantasy reader should be a very willing suspender. But it’s a two-way street. I am a very willing suspender, as long as the disbelief isn’t too heavy to be suspended without snapping the thread. In other words, if a writer creates something utterly unreal but maintains a level of logic in her worldbuilding, I’ll buy into it wholeheartedly. When Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is more believable than Hannah’s Cookie Jar, Ms. Fluke has a little problem.

You’ll notice I’m not even bothering to mention the little fact that this civilian is running about playing Nancy Drew, and her cop brother-in-law is not only aware of it, not only allowing it, but he’s happy about it and grateful to her? Yeah. See, that’s the lifeblood of the cozy mystery, the utterly ridiculous detection, so there’s just no point in dwelling on it.

I know. I know. I’m trying too hard to apply logic and sense to a fluffy cozy mystery. But I just don’t understand why anyone would set out to write a book – or a series of books – which purposely ignores all common sense. I find it a bit offensive.

So. Even dumber than the blatant disregard for laws regarding patient confidentiality - “Call every dentist in town. Did they see Ron yesterday morning?” HIPAA was enacted in 1996. No. Just no. Oh, and “All information regarding a patient’s visit is confidential.... … If you come in then, I’ll tell you all about it.” *facepalm* This place needs not only better cops, but better doctors. But wait - too small.

... Even dumber than a civilian climbing in dumpsters after evidence, scampering about chasing down suspects:

“Drive to Twin Pines to check out the bouncer” (that would be the possible murderer), and trying not to get herself shot instead of bringing every scrap of information she finds to her brother-in-law *the*cop* …

“You’re scaring me, Bill. Do you really think it could be that dangerous?”
“Of course it could. Ron was murdered in cold blood and the killer won’t hesitate to take you out if he thinks you’re on to something.”
So why do you keep letting her continue, Bill??

... Even dumber than the idea that Hannah hits a jackpot on a slot machine and doesn’t notice, wondering what all the noise is about (“Hannah stared at the flashing numbers with absolute amazement.”) …

...Even dumber than the description of a very swanky party attended by just about everyone in town – including Hannah’s barely-legal bakery assistant ("very swanky party" usually equals "small and exclusive guest list")

… Dumbest of all is:
“As Hannah opened her dress purse and stuck the card inside, she wished that she’d had cards made”



Why would a writer make her main character this big an idiot?

She’s owned a business for at least several months, long enough to be well known locally and to be able to hire a full-time assistant. She has bought a truck and had it painted bright red with the business logo plastered all over it. She has had shopping bags made with the store’s logo. And she doesn’t … have … business cards? Even if every local for a twenty-mile radius knows her and her store well, why would she not want to have her phone number on a readily accessible card so that if one of these locals who already loves her cookies wants to, I don’t know, order something they don’t have to call directory assistance? And what about all those tourists flooding through town in the summer? How stupid do you have to be not to get business cards?

All right, obviously that's not really the very dumbest thing in the book. There are just so very many to choose from.

“…Gave a fleeting thought to the difference between the fronts of the shops and the backs. There were no decorative planters in the alley for shrubbery or flowers, no plate-glass windows for displays and signs.”

Captain Obvious is obvious.

"Hannah had done some mental arithmetic as she’d driven home, taking into account the money she’d spent investigating Ron’s murder for Bill. Even after she’d subtracted the cost of the makeup from Luanne, the dress from Claire, and the money they’d spent at Twin Pines, she’d still come out over a thousand dollars to the good."
- Basic addition and subtraction, there. But it sounds laborious for her – I pictured her counting on her fingers – which is why her later reminiscences about college struck me funny: “she read the classics and knew who Wittgenstein and Sartre were” … “In college, the ability to do an algebraic equation in her head wasn’t considered a personality defect, and no one thought less of her if she knew the atomic number of einsteinium.”

Really, Hannah? Please - tell me the atomic number of einsteinium. I'll wait.

“Of course, there had been a group of incredibly gorgeous, bubbleheaded girls who’d turned male heads, but most of them had either flunked out or left to get their MRS degrees.”
- Well, that’s not sexist at all. (A Mrs. degree – get it? Get it???)

“I’m just going to run a currycomb through my hair.” Norman chuckled at her reference to the tool that was used to groom horses.
- Mother of God, that’s some laborious humor. Typical example.

“It sounds like such a quaint little shop. I’ll have to make a point of dropping in soon.” [someone said.] Hannah bristled.
- But … it is a quaint little shop. That in fact should be kind of what you're going for. It’s not exactly Fortnum and Masons, after all.

As always, Betty was dressed in vertical stripes. Someone must have once told her that they were slenderizing and they might have been, for someone less bulky. Betty’s stripes were wide tonight, and they were dark green and burgundy. The colors were pretty, but that didn’t stop Betty from resembling the side of a circus tent.

Wow, I think I hate this author. She’d best weigh 98 pounds soaking wet to write crap like that. (And she's a little more than 98 pounds.) In a book in which the main character makes a living off selling cookies - and in which you're including recipes for your readers to bake - you’re going to rag on the overweight? Really?

Betty was what Hannah and her friends in high school had unkindly called “heavy-duty.” She weighed close to three hundred pounds and she wasn’t known for her grace on the dance floor.

*low growl*

“But I just can’t help feeling that something really bad is going to happen. Remember Charlie Manson?”

… What? I ... just ... huh?

… Hannah noticed that the red light was glowing on the coffeemaker. She reached out to shut it off and realized that the pot was dry, just inky sludge that once had been coffee in the bottom. “Max left the coffee on.”
- For over two days? And the place didn’t burn down - the carafe didn't even crack? Huh. I'd like to know what brand of coffemaker that is.

A plate of these should be in every psychiatrist’s office — two Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights will lift anyone out of a depression.
- Misogyny, mocking the obese, and trivializing mental health issues – superb.

"I’m surprised she didn’t suggest suttee!”
Delores laughed. “You’re right, dear. But that’s illegal, even in India.”
- I’m surprised the author didn’t take a half a page to explain what suttee is. Shocked, actually. I mean, she explained what a currycomb is.

Lake Eden’s too small to have more than one murderer. … How could we have two killers in a town the size of Lake Eden?”
- Oh, that’s too funny. First: it’s also too small for a woman (AND a full-time assistant) to make a living selling only cookies, but I’ve said that already. Second … see the end of this rant.

“…spooned in instant tea…”

- What the hell is instant tea? You mean like powdered instant iced tea, only hot? Oh, ew. Ew. Ew.

Wait – I was wrong. None of the bits I listed earlier are the dumbest things in this book. This, by several miles, is. (Spoiler alert, if you care, but I won't tell you too much.) Intrepid Girl Detective Hannah goes to see yet another suspect, and isn't subtle about the reason for her visit. Said suspect leaves the room and comes back with a shawl over her arm – and the point is made that this is a little odd since it’s rather warm in the room. “Well, she’s got a gun then,” I said. A few minutes later Hannah is shocked (shocked, I say!) when the suspect points a gun at her.

Trying to stall, Hannah asks: “When did you get the gun? Or did you have it with you when I walked in the door?”

I would have shot her right then. And with any half-decent lawyer I’d walk – it was justifiable homicide, Yer Honor. The woman was too stupid to live. To recap, the suspect walked out of the room. And came back with her hand hidden in an unexplained shawl. Gosh, I wonder if she had the gun hidden under the couch? Wait - a hidden panel beside the fireplace! Or in her undies! That must be it.

All right, that was monumentally stupid, but this - - this is absolutely prize-winning:

“In one of the detective shows she’d watched, the main character had jammed his finger somewhere or other to keep the gun from firing.”

No, miss I-can-do-an-algebraic-equation-in-my-head – you're thinking of that episode of Bugs Bunny. Of several episodes of Bugs Bunny - or maybe Yosemite Sam. A CARTOON can stick his finger into the barrel of a gun to keep himself from being shot. I seem to remember Mythbusters covered it; I don’t recall exactly how that played out, but I’m PRETTY sure it wouldn’t work for, you know, an actual non-toon human. (ETA – See below…) (E-again-TA: See also http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...)

Wait – I was wrong again. None of that is the dumbest thing. Remember how I mentioned this is the first book in the series? Odds are pretty damned good this was planned as a series from the beginning, definitely a jump-on-the-cozy-mysteries-with-recipes bandwagon effort. So this line, as they say, took the cake:

“Finding two dead bodies was more than enough for one lifetime.”

The series is up to 17 books.


Wait. That's not funny, it's sad.

*Edited to depressedly add: 24 books. Twenty. Four. Books. And a series of Hallmark movies. Words cannot express how appalled I am.

From the TLC/MythBusters website:
Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: The MythBusters treaded [sic] into cartoon territory to work out whether Bugs Bunny could really make Elmer Fudd's shotgun backfire and explode by plugging his rabbity finger in the barrel.

To ensure no one was harmed in the process, Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara [RIP] rigged up a remote-controlled shotgun to test this animated ruse. They also created a ballistic gel mold of Grant's hands and body that had a density comparable to human tissue, to keep his digits intact.

With the plastic finger blocking the bullet's path, the gun fired and blew this myth to smithereens. The fake finger didn't stand a chance against the shotgun shell and exploded — along with the entire dummy arm.

On the second round, the MythBusters used a stiffer wax hand to plug the gun barrel, but it couldn't beckon a backfire either. If Bugs Bunny were real, Elmer Fudd would've slain that wily rabbit a long time ago.

ETA: I was sorely disappointed that there was no mention of this in the recent ... pardon me while I weep quietly for a few minutes at the state of the world ... Hallmark Channel tv movie based on this book. (Oh, the humanity.) I have more of a sense of self-preservation than to have watched the whole thing - but I did see this scene. It was bad - but at least Hannah didn't try to be Bugs Bunny.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,580 followers
November 3, 2017
Fantastic new series... and now they have a TV series with Alison Sweeney. Nice! It was one of the first cozies I read with recipes and I had to test one or two out. :) More to come on this series... I'm anxious to finish all 20+ books!
Profile Image for Rebbie.
142 reviews111 followers
October 27, 2019
Ok, so... I'm officially in love with cozy mysteries, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. :P

I heart this genre so much; it walks the tightrope between good old-fashioned, small town, hardboiled noir and straight up cutie patootie-ness.

It's a great break from all the really sad, serious stuff going on around the world and in books, and is a gentle reminder of better days gone by.

Think summertime, a warm breeze passes you by as you're sitting under a beautiful old oak tree reading a comforting book. You're in the yard of a light yellow cottage style home with white trim and pink flowers neatly planted around the outside.

This little slice of perfection is tucked away from the madness of the world; nothing can ruin the simplicity and joy of your experience.

And that's cozy mystery.

Anyhoo, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first in a long-running series written by Joanne Fluke. It's about a woman named Hannah Swensen who owns a cookie shop called The Cookie Jar, and she lives in a tiny town called Lake Eden with her trusty cat Moishe.

All bets are off when a man she grew up with is found murdered directly behind her shop. Who did it? Why? Will they strike again? She sets off to help her brother-in-law crack the case. He's up for a promotion from deputy to detective if he's successful.

Overall, it was a cute read, thoroughly enjoyable, and provided a much needed respite from the stresses of life.
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
815 reviews1,874 followers
January 13, 2023
I enjoy these types of fluffy cozy mysteries. The Cookie Jar setting was fun and included lots of cookie recipes too.

Enjoyed the character of Hannah Swensen and her snooping ways. The small town setting of Lake Eden was perfect. Hannah's orange cat, Moishe added another cozy addition.

The mystery is light, but the characters made it fun and enjoyable for a little escape.

Recommend to those who enjoy cozy mysteries and follow the characters through the series. This is a long running series.
Profile Image for Min.
370 reviews24 followers
July 2, 2018
I had been eyeing this book for a while, mostly because the cover amused me so. I finally picked it up when I was on one of my cosy mystery tears. Knowing it had been written in the 80s made the content a little less annoying. Unfortunately, the first book is the best of this sad lot.
However, having read all but the latest (Key Lime Pie Murder, which I am still debating whether or not to read) in the series, I have to say that the series is not that great. The latter books were written more recently and the author did a pretty good job throwing in those little details that let you know that yes, you are in the 21st Century now (for example, one of the characters carries around a laptop and cell phone). But beyond that, there is not much to recommend this series.
The main character is the bakery shop owner. She eats a lot of cookies and worries about how fat she is and just frets about her weight far too often in the books. (At one point she goes on a diet and after a couple of days people are telling her how much weight she's lost and how good she looks. Personally, if she can look so different in just two days of dieting, then she probably didn't need to lose any weight at all.)
There are two men with whom she is supposed to be involved, but why they want to be with her is not clear. There is very little character development and I had a hard time understanding why, in a supposedly small town where everyone knows that she likes to investigate crimes (if you can call it investigating), the "suspects" don't have a clue that she is "interviewing" them.
Bottom line - unless you are bored to tears or stuck in a snowstorm with nothing else to read, this series can be skipped.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
October 18, 2018

Oh HAIL to the NO!!

Did we really stop being monkeys to evolve into reading, thinking beings to read this shit?
A monkey could have written a better story.
A monkey could have solved this mystery without Idiot #1 and Idiot #2.
A monkey police officer wouldn't have made his untrained family member solve the crime for him.

In other words, when it comes to this book, we might as well go back to armpit-scratching and poo-throwing because it is that braincell-stealing dumb.

(Yes, I admit I should have run for the hills when I saw the cover. There was obviously a Lifetime or Hallmark movie made of this crap. That should have been my trigger warning.)
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books353 followers
January 5, 2023
Cookie-maker Hannah is juggling life as a single baker with an opinionated cat and a mother who is determined to set her up with someone in their small town in Minnesota. When her dairy delivery guy turns up dead, Hannah has to help her brother in law, who just made detective, look for clues and solve the case. I love this cozy mystery series for the great recipes and fun quirky characters. I think I gain weight every time I read about Hannah’s cookies 😊 but it’s all worth it. This one kept surprising me all the way to the end as Hannah and her sister worked to solve the mystery of the killer. One of my favorite cozy series! (And adorable cat scenes!)
Profile Image for Kate.
8 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2007
Is it difficult reading? No. Are the characters the best characters I've ever read? No. But what this series does have going for it is that all the books are a fun, light read. You could probably start reading any of these books as your first and you would have no trouble understanding the characters or the plots (some would find this a plus while others would see it as a drawback, I'm sure).
Hannah Swensen, the main character, while not as pretty as her sister Andrea, or her mother, for that matter, gets by on her charming personality and her smarts. She owns a cookie shop. I love the fact that while she is not a cookie-cutter (sorry, had to do it) type of beauty, she is still pursued by two different men, and even solves crimes before the local police can pick up on most of the clues! If only real crimes were this simple to solve...but luckily Hannah lives in a small town in Minnesota, which certainly narrows the suspect list down, as everyone knows everyone else in the area.
For all the baked-good connoisseurs out there, you may also appreciate the fact that Joanne Fluke includes the recipes Hannah makes for her customers. I have yet to try them, but they all sound really tasty to me! Try visiting her website at www.murdershebaked.com for some summaries and recipes.
I like to read these books before bed, because each chapter is relatively short, so I can read as little or as much as I want, and it's always a tasty (and happy) ending!
April 16, 2019
"Solving crimes certainly wasn’t as easy as they made it seem in the movies."

Hannah runs a cookie shop in a small town, and her main sources of worry are her mother, who constantly tries to match her with any widowed/divorced man in town, and her younger sister, who takes advantage of her state of single-woman-in-her-late-twenties making her babysit her daughter on a daily basis. Never in her whole life she would imagine that one day, right after opening up her cute, small, cookie shop, she will find the body of one of her fellow citizens peeping from his truck. Being the sister-in-law of the town's cop she soon gets involved in the investigation... did she bite more than she could chew?

The start of one of the most famous cozy mystery series, this novel by Joanne Fluke is the proof that murder and desserts go together like milk and cookies, and that a small cozy hometown is often the main attraction for killers, maniacs and other horrors. Wasn't Jessica Fletcher's life enough of a warning? 😏😏

When you see a cute, cozy town with small antique shops and flowers at every window... RUN! You never know when the next guy with the chainsaw is going to be right behind you!!!

P.S. The main character in this one is a little... mm how can i say this in a polite way? She's a b*tch. Fatshaming? Really? I hope she gets better in the next books, otherwise i will stop cheering for her and cheer for the killer instead 🔪
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,450 reviews7,561 followers
October 17, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

2.5 Stars

You know how you know something isn’t good for you, but you’re still all like . . . .

Yeah. That’s pretty much this book. After all, it is the story of the local cookie shop owner who gets recruited by her brother-in-law (who just so happens to be Barney Fife a policeman) to help solve the first murder Eden Lake has ever had. I mean, I haven’t experienced something this ridiculous since . . . . . well, actually just about a week and a half ago . . . .

Anyway. If you’re willing and able to leave reality 100% at the door, Joanne Fluke might have the series for you. These light and cozies are working out great for my commute so I have a feeling I’ll gobble up whatever else the library has to offer . . . .

Profile Image for Carrie.
113 reviews5 followers
September 15, 2009
I should not have read other reviews of this book, before I did so I was reading along with only a slight nagging annoyance that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I'm not finished yet, but I will only be skimming the last 100 pages in order to find out who done it, I definitely won't be wasting my time with the other books in this series. Don't get me wrong, I love a cozy mystery & read lots of 'em, but why does the main character (if she’s younger than 35) always fall into one of two types in this genre? She's either super hot with a hunky boyfriend or she's the stereotypical "old maid" (frumpy/not caring about her appearance and has one or more cats). Hannah falls into the latter category & it drove me crazy! I was afraid sometimes that she would start making out with Moshie!

Worse yet was how she seemed to be doing all the investigating AND interviewing of suspects! Now I know enough to take any give cozy mystery with a grain of salt, but this one was waaaaaay too unbelievable! What the heck is Bill (the cop) doing while Hannah is out solving this case?

Don't get me started on how the author details Hannah's EVERY move and the horrible dialogue where the characters use the name of the person they are speaking to 50 times per sentence!! No one talks like that!

Lastly. . .I just had a hard time believing she affords to make a living (especially afford a condo) when she owns a shop that only sells cookies & coffee. No small Midwestern town needs THAT many cookies & if they did, they’d all be 300 lbs.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. . .
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,347 reviews4,863 followers
July 8, 2020

I've read other books in Joanne Fluke's 'Hannah Swensen' series so it was interesting to backtrack and read 'book one' for the first time.

Hannah Swensen - a tall, attractive baker - leaves graduate school and returns home to Lake Eden, Minnesota for family reasons. Hannah decides to stay in town and opens 'The Cookie Jar' bakery and café. Hannah's mom and two sisters live in Lake Eden and often become involved in her amateur investigations.

This book features Hannah's mom Dolores - who owns an antique shop and repeatedly tries to set Hannah up with eligible men (much to Hannah's chagrin);

and Hannah's sister Andrea - a pretty fashionista, mother, and real estate agent who's married to Deputy Sheriff Bill Todd.

As the story opens Hannah and her assistant Lisa are at 'The Cookie Jar' early, baking cookies and preparing for the morning rush. Hannah is expecting a delivery from milkman Ron LaSalle, who's late for the first time ever. When Hannah hears that Ron's delivery van entered a nearby alley she thinks he broke down and goes to help. Instead of a broken van Hannah finds a broken body....Ron has been shot dead.

Hannah's cop brother-in-law Bill is about to be promoted to detective and asks Hannah to keep her eyes and ears open - in case clues about Ron's killer come her way. Of course Hannah jumps right in and takes over the entire inquiry, keeping Bill in the loop as needed. This is a pet peeve of mine with this series..that Hannah (and whatever family members she draws in) do almost all the investigating while the cops do who knows what. I know this premise is common in cozy mysteries but it still irks me.

Between making cookies and pursuing her inquiries Hannah buys a flattering little black dress and attends the annual gala thrown by Del and Judith Woodley - one of the richest families in town.

Soon afterward another dead body is discovered and Hannah learns that this second victim was a loan shark who threatened some prominent Lake Eden residents. Could the murders of the milkman and loan shark be connected? Hannah plans to find out.

In this book Hannah becomes acquainted with the two men who form part of her (seemingly eternal) romantic triangle. First Hannah meets Norman Rhodes, described as an older, balding dentist who's taking over his father's dental practice. Later Hannah meets Detective Mike Kingston, portrayed as a handsome, blue-eyed, blonde hunk who's just been hired by the Sheriff's Department. Both men take a shine to Hannah and by the end of the book she has two dates for the weekend. (Sounds good to me....LOL)

Hannah talks to persons of interest, collects clues, and solves the crimes - putting herself in considerable danger in the process. But Hannah is a clever, resourceful gal and things turn out okay (allowing the series to continue. LOL).

The characters in the story are generally interesting and well-drawn. It would be great to know someone like Hannah, who gives away bags of cookies wherever she goes. I also like Hannah's big orange cat Moishe, a smart fellow who watches TV, tells Hannah when he's hungry, and provides affection and comfort as needed. The book also has cookie recipes sprinkled throughout, which sound delicious.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and would recommend it to fans of the genre.

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Janete on hiatus due health issues.
655 reviews264 followers
November 9, 2020
DNF at Page 380 because of these dumb excerpts:
"She sat down in her chair with the shawl on her lap and handed Hannah the tickets with her left hand. “If you’ll open the folder, you’ll see that Benton’s plane didn’t land until twelve-seventeen. I assume that this will clear him as a suspect?”
Hannah examined the tickets. “Yes, it will. I’m really sorry that I had to bring it up and I hope that I didn’t upset you too much. It was just that the circumstantial evidence against Benton seemed overwhelming.”
“Overwhelming?” Judith’s eyebrows shot up. “How can that be? A killer requires a motive.
What possible motive could Benton have for killing Max Turner?”
“Actually,” Hannah hesitated, choosing her words carefully, “it concerns the personal loan that your husband had with Max Turner.”
“What are you talking about, Hannah?”
Judith looked flustered, not at all like her usual poised self and Hannah wondered if she should backpedal. But Judith had been very forthcoming and she deserved the truth. “I’m sorry I have to tell you, Judith, but Del secured a personal loan from Max Turner. I just learned about it this afternoon. And I know that Del was having some problems making the payments. You can see how this all fits together, can’t you?”
“Yes, I can.” Judith’s voice was hard and Hannah assumed that she was embarrassed.
“You thought that Benton shot Max so that Del wouldn’t have to honor the loan. Is that right?”
“That’s it. I’m really sorry, Judith, but it did make sense. You’ve got to admit that.”
Judith dipped her head in a nod. “You’re right, Hannah. It did make sense. Does your brother-in-law know about the loan?”
“No. There’s no record of it and I can’t see any reason to tell him, now that Benton’s been cleared. And Del has an air-tight alibi for the time of Max’s murder. He was meeting with his night supervisors at DelRay and there’s no way he could have been in two places at once.
The only other person who would care about the loan is you, and . . .”
“Brava, Hannah.” Judith smiled an icy smile and pulled a gun from beneath the folds of her silk shawl. “It’s unfortunate that you put the pieces together, but now that you have, I can’t let you tell your brother-in-law.”
“You killed Max?” Hannah gulped. She’d never stared into the barrel of a gun before and it wasn’t an experience she’d care to repeat. And if the cold, calculating expression on Judith’s face was any indication, Hannah suspected that she might not get a chance to repeat anything ever again.
“You were asking too many questions, Hannah. And you were skirting much too close to the truth. I knew it was only a matter of time before you arrived at the accurate conclusion and conveyed it to your brother-in-law. I couldn’t let you do that, now could I?”
Judith was going to kill her. Hannah knew that with heart-sinking certainty. She also knew that she had to keep Judith talking, to buy herself some time until the reinforcements came.
But there weren’t any reinforcements, Hannah reminded herself. She hadn’t told Bill that she was going to see Judith and he didn’t know anything about Del’s loan with Max. To make matters worse, Bill wasn’t even a detective yet. He’d never figure it out in time!
“Nervous, dear?”
Judith’s voice was taunting and Hannah shuddered. The polite socialite had turned into a cold-blooded killer and she was a goner unless she could keep Judith talking. “Of course I’m nervous! When did you get the gun? Or did you have it with you when I walked in the door?”
“Do you honestly think that I’d carry a gun around in my own home?” Judith laughed lightly.
Of course you wouldn’t. Even a shoulder holster would ruin the lines of your dress, Hannah thought. And then she wondered how she could think flippant thoughts when Judith was about to kill her. Either she was much braver than she’d ever imagined, or she still expected the cavalry to ride in at the last minute.
Hannah’s mind spun at top speed, searching for questions that Judith might want to do. “When did you go to get the gun? I’m curious.”
“I don’t know. That’s just the way my mind works. You’re going to shoot me anyway. You might as well do me a favor and satisfy my curiosity first.”
“And why should I do any favors for you?”
“Because I brought you cookies,” Hannah answered. “They’re some of my best, Pecan Chews. You’re going to love them.”
Judith laughed. She seemed to think that Hannah’s comment was funny. Maybe it was, but it was difficult for Hannah to see the humor past the gun barrel right now.
“Come on, Judith,” Hannah tried again. “What harm can it do to tell me? You were smart to get the gun. I just want to know when you realized that you needed it.”
“I had the gun when I came back with the plane tickets. It was under my shawl.” "
Profile Image for Bobbi Jo.
6 reviews4 followers
October 23, 2007
I am a sucker for the quick, easy, light-hearted mystery novels and I really enjoy Joanne Fluke. The characters are fun and the "whodunits" are clever enough. Not surprisingly many of the situations the heroine finds herself in are a bit unlikely. But it's not meant to double your IQ, just entertain and all of her books do well at that.
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,820 reviews480 followers
June 4, 2019

Why did I decide to read Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder? A simple answer. As a book lover, I like to read the book before I watch the movie. This book was made into a movie and Alison Sweeney is the protagonist.

Hannah Swensen lives in a small town. She moved back home after her father passed away to help out. She doesn't have a great relationship with her mother (her mom is always trying to set her up with any unmarried guy). She has a better relationship with her sister, Andrea, her niece and her brother in law, Bill. Hannah doesn't have a man in her life but she does have a beloved cat, Moishe.

Hannah owns The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Her shop specializes in selling different type of cookies. Her cookies are the best in town and her business is always quite busy. One morning, as she's about to start her day, she finds the dead body of a man she used to know from high school. The town is shaken by the news of the murder.

Hannah's brother in law, Bill is a policeman and a promotion is in the works if he can solve this case. With the help of Hannah, Bill might be able to achieve it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is my first Cozy Mystery but I'm not sure this one was the right one for me to start with. I had to place it in the unbelievable category. I had issues with Hannah doing all the work and Bill letting her do it. She followed no police procedure and her questions were too direct when she was approaching the suspects. Anyway, I didn't love it.

If you have any good recommendations about a Cozy Mystery or if this series gets better, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.

Cliffhanger: No

2.5/5 Fangs

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews321 followers
February 4, 2016
I'm going to give this 4 stars because Hannah figured out who the murderer was and her brother in law was up for a promotion with the sheriff's office if he caught the killer. I am glad it all worked out but I felt like Hannah was doing all the work. She needs to be a cop. I did like the end, too and hope she ends up with the man I like for her. I will definitely read more of these books just because they are a nice, light murder mystery to read. The characters are believable and easy to like. I also love how Joanne added the recipes into the story and how they mix in with the plot. Good, fun book if you're looking for something that isn't all blood and gore. I was stumped until the end! Would recommend!
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews20k followers
August 28, 2018
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the coziest of cozy murder mysteries. Hannah runs a bakery called The Cookie Jar, and when a murder rocks her small town of Lake Eden, she jumps in to help her policeman brother-in-law solve the murder. In between her often tactless questioning of suspects and digging around where she shouldn't, she bakes cookies and dishes them out to every person she meets.

The mystery itself is interesting enough, though the solution isn't clever so much as Hannah just badgers everyone in town with questions until they relent and tell her everything they know. Eventually, she arrives at the right answer simply because she's ruled out everyone else in town, or at least that's what it seems like.

It reminds me a lot of Nancy Drew books I read growing up, where the main character is never in any real danger even though she's nosing into everyone's business and making it quite obvious to any criminals what she's doing. It's all a bit hammed up, but still fun and cheerful, great for when I'm wanting a light, relaxing read.
Profile Image for Vicky Marie.
268 reviews16 followers
February 20, 2014
Another wannabe detective. Another piece of tripe. I don’t know what I was expecting when I borrowed this audiobook from the library. The synopsis should have said it all.

Hannah Swensen is the most popular baker in Lake Eden. Hannah bakes the best cookies in town, and everyone makes sure to tell her this throughout the whole book. Not like Hannah needs their compliments, because she thinks she’s the Cookie Queen as well. She even goes far as to complain about the caterer’s cookies at the biggest party in town. “These are dry, unlike mine which are awesome. There’s no flavor, unlike mine which are so freaking awesome. You should let me bake for you, BECAUSE MY COOKIES ARE FUCKING AWESOME!” We get it, your shit is the best. Why don’t you marry your damn cookies if you love them so much?

Anyhow, one day while at work, Hannah discovers the body of a deliveryman in the back of her bakery. To make matters worse it looks like he’s been murdered! The whole town is in a tizzy. Everyone in Lake Eden is a busybody who can’t keep their nose out of other people’s business, so of course news of the murder spreads quickly. Hannah’s brother-in-law is assigned to the case, and he enlists Hannah’s help. Hannah, being a snoop like everyone else, agrees and plays detective to figure out who the killer is.

I love when inexperienced people decide to do something dangerous that’s absolutely none of their business (Hear the sarcasm?) I also love when someone thinks that watching crime shows counts as investigative experience. I’m not joking. Because Hannah watches CSI, Criminal Minds, or whatever cop show that’s out these days she thinks she can solve the case.

 photo martinnotimpressed_zps1ccd70d7.gif

Oh man.

Hannah, honey, you’re a baker. You should be baking, not dumpster-diving looking for clues, (which you don’t touch with your bare hands because that’s what CSI told you.) The last bit is true, but you see my point. Hannah is Lake Eden’s new Inspector Clouseau.

Aside from the entire book which pissed me off, what bothered me was Bill asking Hannah for help and making her do all the work. If he can solve the case than he gets a promotion, but he doesn’t do much to earn that promotion. The baker is the one who figures it all out. Goddamn dude you’re a cop. Do your job and keep your sister-in-law out of it!

The ending is as cliché as can be. The killer holds Hannah at gunpoint and for half an hour of the audiobook they explain every detail of the Who What Where and Hows in the murder. Yep, every villain just has to have their monologue about their master plan. Hannah gets away, the murderer is arrested, and Bill gets his undeserved promotion. Oh, and Hannah, who has been single most her life, gets asked out on a date by two men. Congratu-fuckin-lations, girl.
Profile Image for Robin Loves Reading.
2,198 reviews378 followers
May 27, 2019
Hannah Swensen is a busy woman who is running Lake Eden, a popular bakery in Minnesota. When she is not creating culinary delights, her mother is trying to fix her up. Hannah isn't ready to settle down, and even if she is, she definitely does not want her mother's help. Hannah is devastated to discover a local delivery man dead, so she is determined to find the killer.

It is not as simple as creating delicious new recipes. No, every time Hannah thinks she has a bead on the murderer, yet another suspect pops up. Will she be able to use her deductive reasoning skills to identify the killer, but be smart enough not to be his next victim

If you enjoy reading cozy mysteries as much as I do, and will like the benefit of yummy recipes along the way, by all means grab a copy of this book.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first book in the Hannah Swensen series. I look forward to trying to read a book a month for as long as it takes. With twenty-four books in the series to-date, and the twenty-fifth coming in February, 2020, I have quite a bit to look forward to
Profile Image for Zyra .
203 reviews81 followers
November 28, 2017
this book will definitely leave you craving for delicious cookies. mystery was also interesting and engrossing. I do hope the other books in the series keep my attention.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,657 reviews409 followers
January 24, 2023
I came into this one expecting a super cheesy cozy mystery type of novel. Honestly, I ended up liking Hannah and not being immensely annoyed by her, which was surprising.

However, there is a section in the book with Hannah disgustingly fat shaming another character and then talking about weight to be lost after the holidays on herself. This didn't add anything to the story and degraded her character.

The recipe tidbits were fun, but I would rather have them all collected at the end of the book instead of breaking up the story so many times.

Overall, the mystery was fun. The book was light and a quick read. I will continue with this one even if the ending love triangle creation was a bit of a stretch.

3-3.5 stars for me
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews402 followers
January 24, 2019
Only my legendary stubbornness got me through this book. I should have quit while I was ahead.
The book felt super disjointed. Hannah bemoans being the 'ugly sister,' hints at some brains (just shy of her doctorate, unless I misunderstood?), and hands out free cookies like she hopes to give the entire down diabetes.
Heck, the entire town might already have diabetes the way they flock to her cookie shop.
Anyway, so a murder happens and Hannah's idiotic brother-in-law convinces her to help him solve the mystery so he can take all the credit for it. She goes ahead and gets herself in a series of stupid situations and he doesn't blink an eye. She drags her sister into one of the said stupid situations and he freaks out.
So there you go. Personally, I think no one can be that stupid and he's just trying to save the town from a sugary death by offing his sister-in-law. Smart man.
Anyway, she goes about repeatedly repeating repetitiously a bunch of boring character analyses and chasing down dead end leads. She solves the mystery almost by accident. By this point, the astute reader already knows who did it so...snore. A boring dentist enters the picture and behaves like the boring dentist he is. A hot detective shows up and is...hot...so....that's about all there is to him. I see maybe a love triangle develops in later books but as the dentist's name is something like Norman I think we all know how this is going.
I suppose the only thing that makes the book somewhat interesting is the interspersed cookie recipes, but I do not bake and I don't read cookbooks so...nope. Not helping.
Overall, a disappointment. I had higher hopes for a book that consistently ranks high on cozy mystery lists.
Profile Image for Robin.
1,702 reviews62 followers
December 14, 2022
Hannah Swensen owns The Cookie Jar, a small coffee house and bakery in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Life in this small town is good, until Hannah finds Ron LaSalle, the delivery man for Cozy Cow Dairy, murdered in the alley behind the bakery. As Hannah discusses the murder with her brother-in-law, Deputy Sheriff Bill Todd, he asks her to help him uncover the killer.

This is the first book in the Hannah Swensen series. I liked Hannah and her determination to help her brother-in-law solve this mystery, but I did find it strange that he would ask her to help. I don't think the police would want a civilian interviewing suspects. But, it did move the story forward and put Hannah into the thick of the whodunit.

This mystery had loads of suspects with a couple red herrings. I eliminated some suspects only to add them back to the list later. I'm looking forward to more of this series. My rating: 3.5 Stars.
Profile Image for Dawn Michelle.
2,334 reviews
March 21, 2017

Read~August 30, 2010
3 1/2 Stars

In a way, I was hoping to NOT like this book, because I so do NOT need to be starting another series. Sigh. There goes another wish ungranted, because....
I really LIKED this book. The characters are hilarious, the story/mystery is fun and challenging and the recipes are..pardon the pun..to DIE for!!! ;-)

Hannah is a delightful heroine, and the cast of characters that come along wi6th her and equally delightful! AND, I didn't know "who-dun-it"!!! YAY YAY YAY!!!!!
Profile Image for Dagny.
448 reviews81 followers
May 13, 2015
The very likeable Hannah, bakery and pastry shop owner, begins her investigative career because she knew and liked the victim. It's a plus that it helps her policeman brother-in-law's actual career. All the secondary characters are pleasant making this an enjoyable read. Match-making mothers provide some gentle humor. I'll be reading more of this series.
Profile Image for Fred.
572 reviews74 followers
September 27, 2022
This book started the great Hallmark TV series “Murder She Baked”.

‘Murder She Baked’ Books and Movie Comparison List

Hallmark’s Murder She Baked TV series

The sweet lovely Hannah Swensen of Lake Eden, Minnesota, runs The Cookie Jar, a coffee shop “serving and selling” goodies.
She finds Ron LaSalle, the Crazy Cow Dairy man, dead in her alley. Then Nat Turner, the bank loan manager everyone hates, found dead.

Hanna & Det. Mike Kingston investigate suspects - they find a Styrofoam cup with pink lipstick. Many suspects & alibis to follow. An unexplained town bus. loan. Leading to a unexpected Architectural & antique home.

A lighthearted & humorous mystery with cooking recipes at the end of chapters alleviates the difficulty & bring humor to read.
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,170 reviews144 followers
March 25, 2018
Hannah owns a bakery in a small town. After the town's local dairy deliveryman is late one morning, Hannah goes to check on him. She finds him in the cab of his truck, shot dead. Hannah does some sleuthing on her own to discover who is the killer.

The 1st book in the Hannah Swensen series. This book also includes recipes for the yummy treats Hannah serves at her bakery.

A quick and easy read. Great for fans of cozy mysteries. Especially ones with a small town setting and lots of food talk.
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