Fishing, Philandering, and Hannah’s 28th Mystery

Author: Joanne Fluke

Hannah’s busy baking life is blooming as a fancy fishing competition hits Lake Eden. It’s all the rage, and the TV show host of a beloved fishing show, Sonny Bowman, is going to be the star. He’s loved just as much for his good looks as his supposed fishing prowess. But you know what they say, never meet your idols. It turns out that Sonny is a fraud and a philanderer to boot. Only a few days into the competition, which Hannah and friends are conveniently catering, Sonny is belly-up, literally. The problem? Everyone wanted to kill him.

With Mike overwhelmed and suddenly having trouble focusing, it’s up to Hannah and Andrea to suss out the killer and save the day. Was it Sonny’s beleaguered fiancé, his hard working and underappreciated partner, one of his many conquests, or someone else? With the clock ticking, Hannah bakes her desserts and grills her suspects as Mike waits in the wings.

Caramel Pecan Roll Murder is the 28th Hannah mystery. By this time, dead bodies clutching Hannah’s latest culinary delight are as common as flies in June. The ridiculous cast is still just as silly and sexless as ever, with Hannah’s never-ending love-triangle firmly stuck in a rut. The recipes are simply growing weirder, and in some cases lazier (the star recipe is a tampered with cinnamon roll from Pillsbury – literally, the ingredients are three jumbo tubs of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls). The victims are as obvious as the beleaguered Star Trek red shirts, and everyone confesses their deepest, darkest secrets to get a little of those chocolate endorphins. Oh, and police procedure – yeah, forget that. So, in other words, it’s the normal Lake Eden chicanery, something we are all together used to seeing. It’s silly, insubstantial, slapdash, and repetitive. You either love it or deal with it, because nothing is going to change.

Now that that admission is well and truly out of the way – why did I give this book four stars and enjoy it so thoroughly? Yes, it’s got the same old problems and darn it, no movement on the Hannah and Norman front, but the old magic is still there despite the issues. It’s cozy and fun. That guilty pleasure read you hide in your bedside table and drool over at night. Something about it still hits that sweet spot. The characters retain enough of what we love to keep us going, and Caramel Pecan Roll Murder is no exception.

The atmosphere here is especially enjoyable. We’re still in our beloved Lake Eden, but the scenery shift from the Cookie Jar is a nice move and the mystery itself was engaging. Heck, I was glad to see Sonny get his comeuppance.

Mike’s loss of interest in his job is a new and concerning turn as well. Once again, this bit of strife in our characters’ personal lives has us back for more. I’m sure this will be an ongoing thread in the next few books as Mike finds himself and discovers (with Hannah’s help no doubt) the reasons for his apathy. It is also good to finally admit 28 books in that the amateurs are going to investigate, and just go beyond all the attempts to hide or stop the sleuthing.

The conclusion and revelation of the killer is one of Hannah’s better revelations. I wish Hannah hadn’t blathered about the murder to every-single person (the MO was to remain silent and catch people as they were), but as I said, who expects even a semblance of reality and sense at this point? I enjoyed the atmosphere and cadence of this offering and reconnecting with my old favorites. I look forward to the next book in the series. What can I say, I’m hooked and in it for the long haul.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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