- Title: Caramel Pecan Roll Murder
- Author: Joanne Fluke
- Publisher: Kensington Books
- Release Date: 2/22/22
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Age Range: Adult
- Rating: ★★★
- Publisher’s Summary: In this scrumptious cozy mystery from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joanne Fluke, baker Hannah Swensen is tempted by a high-profile tournament in Lake Eden that quickly turns deadly. Embracing a sweet escape from her usual routine at The Cookie Jar, Hannah gets asked for her help in baking pastries at the local inn for a flashy fishing competition with big prizes and even bigger names. But the fun stops when she spots a runaway boat on the water and, on board, the lifeless body of the event’s renowned celebrity spokesperson. Famed TV show host Sonny Bowman wasn’t humble about his ability to reel in winning catches, and no one knew that better than his tragically overworked sidekick, Joey. Did Joey finally take bloody revenge on his pompous boss—or was Sonny killed by a jealous contestant? With goodies to bake and a mess of fresh challenges mixed into her personal life, it’s either sink or swim as Hannah joins forces with her sister, Andrea, to catch a clever culprit before another unsuspecting victim goes belly up . . .
I have been reading Hannah Swensen mysteries since high school, and the characters have become so familiar to me over the years. There is always something comforting to me about returning to Lake Eden, Minnesota to learn about the newest murder that Hannah and her sisters will solve. Of course, I also love to read about what recipes the Swensen sisters are baking as well.
The victim of the murder in Caramel Pecan Roll Murder, Sonny Bowman, is impossible to like. He is a cheating womanizer who treats everyone around him badly. He is a star of a fishing show who doesn’t know anything about fishing. He is so deeply unlikeable that he feels like a caricature of a villain, but it certainly isn’t hard to imagine that someone would want to murder him.
As the second of three daughters, I have always connected with the middle Swensen sister, Andrea. In the earlier books, Hannah and Michelle, Andrea’s sisters, often make fun of her for being unable to cook or bake. In this installment, Andrea becomes a real help to Hannah in the kitchen, and she even is asked to share a recipe that she creates. I was glad to see Andrea getting more credit in this book.
There were a few moments in this book that rubbed me the wrong way as they seemed to determined to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles. There was an entire page where Hannah, Andrea, and their mother discussed how they had to have their male partners check to make sure they’d set their televisions to record properly. Another moment that bothered me was when Lonnie, Michelle’s partner, asked Andrea to give Michelle a cookie recipe. I didn’t like the implication that it was Michelle’s role to cook and bake for Lonnie.
I have always found Mike Kingston, one of Lake Eden’s detectives, to be an interesting character. He often asks Hannah not to interfere in his murder investigations, but that all changes in this book. Mike no longer seems invested in solving murders. He even turns to Hannah for her advice in solving Sonny’s murder. This seems like a sudden shift, and I am eager to learn more about what prompted it.
Returning to Hannah and Lake Eden is always cozy and comforting. I will certainly return to Lake Eden for the next mystery.