Cinnamon Roll Murder continues author Joann Fluke’s trademark talents of combining fictional murder mystery with morsels of food. Fluke’s narrative centers around amateur sleuth, Hannah Swensen. As owner of The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota’s coffee and bakery shop, Swensen’s never far from comestibles and crime.
The Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band is en route to perform at the first-ever weekend jazz festival at the Lake Eden Inn. It’s early April, on an ice-filled evening, when the musicians’ bus crashes and overturns near town.
Hannah and her sister, Andrea, are traveling in the company van to deliver a large cinnamon roll order to the Lake Eden Inn. Witnessing the accident, they stop to offer help. Driver, Clayton Wallace is dead at the scene. Fortunately the band’s entourage suffers only minor injuries yet need to be examined at Lake Eden Memorial Hospital.
While there, Delores Swensen, Hannah’s mother and leader of the hospital’s Rainbow Ladies Auxiliary group, discovers keyboardist, Buddy Neiman dead in an examining room; stabbed with surgical scissors buried in his chest.
Who’d have motive to kill Buddy Neiman?
Promising, young musician, Devon Murphy (replacement keyboardist for Neiman), is one suspect. Another is the mysterious woman seen arguing with the victim outside Club Nineteen, the band’s previous gig.
Dentist, Norman, is Hannah’s true love interest, yet engaged to Dr. Bev, a fellow professional. Her reputation in Lake Eden is tainted, known as a conniving, self-centered woman, intent on marrying Norman with ulterior motives. Dr. Bev claims Norman is the father of her five-year-old daughter, Diana, but the Swensen clan is skeptical.
Hannah and her sister Andrea go undercover as realtor/client to gain access to DNA samples from Diana, who lives with Dr. Bev’s mother, Judy Thorndike, in the Twin Cities.
Claire’s dress shop, Granny’s Attic (the area’s gossip hub), and Helping Hands (the town’s sole thrift store), contribute to Lake Eden’s quaint commercialism.
Mentions of modern day, major issues, including facial implants and domestic abuse, offset the isolated, small-town charm of Lake Eden.
Piggy Chicken, Stuffin’ Muffins and Pucker Up Lemon Cake, are recipes included in the narrative, along with the expectant, mouthwatering, Special Cinnamon Rolls. All twenty-two recipes are handily indexed at book’s end along with a Baking Conversion Chart.
The challenge with some of Fluke’s recipes is the amount of labor they require to produce. In today’s time-constrained world, chicken tenders need to be pounded and dough needs to rise for several hours, as an example.
Cinnamon Roll Murder is a well-crafted mystery; designed to simultaneously tease your brain and taste buds. Indulge.
The 2012 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, October 4-7. To learn more about this gathering of some of the world’s best crime fiction writers, visit: http://bouchercon2012.com.