Review: Christmas Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

  • Title: Christmas Cupcake Murder
  • Author: Joanne Fluke
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Release Date: 9/29/20
  • Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Rating: ★★★

Christmas Cupcake Murder is the 26th murder mystery in the Hannah Swenson series set in the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Hannah runs a bakery and coffee shop called The Cookie Jar and has a habit of finding people murdered after eating confections she’s made.

Christmas Cupcake Murder takes place several years before the previous book in the series, Coconut Layer Cake Murder. At the beginning of the book, it is Christmas time in Lake Edena and a ragged and starving man comes to the back door of The Cookie Jar, and Hannah offers him some of the Christmas cupcakes she’s making. Soon after this, Hannah and her mother, Delores, discover the man collapsed with a traumatic brain injury in an abandoned storefront. The Swensons try to help the man, who asks to be called Joe, figure out who he is and what happened to him.

I have read every single one of the Hannah Swenson mysteries, and they always feel warm and cozy. Adding a Christmas theme to an already comforting series made it even more so. All of the recipes the book described made me hungry as always. The story did keep my attention, and I was curious to find out the true identity of Joe.

After reading 26 mysteries in this series, I was immediately able to recognize the familiar patterns of the storyline: Hannah discovers a body along with a baked good, her mother and sisters (Andrea and Michelle) help her investigate as do her love interests dentist Norman Rhodes and police office Mike. At this point, these familiar tropes make me feel like my favorite blanket is wrapped around me.

The Lake Edenites are also so familiar at this point that is is comforting to see them behave and react as I have come to expect through the series.

However, the name of the book is a little bit of a misnomer. While Joe is near death when Hannah discovers him, no one actually is killed in this book. This made it feel a little too squeaky clean even for a cozy mystery.

Hannah Swenson and her crew have earned my loyalty over the years, and I certainly look forward to reading Book 27 when it is released in February 2021.


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