Between baking up a storm for The Cookie Jar and unraveling the mystery of her cat Moishe's recent strange behavior, Hannah Swensen has a lot on her plate. But she'll always make time for her business partner, Lisa, who's in the midst of preparing for a big family reunion. Everyone is delighted when Lisa's long-lost uncle makes a surprise appearance. No one has heard from Gus in twenty-five years. Uncle Gus is immediately the hit of the reunion. He's almost as popular as Hannah's scrumptious carrot cake, which is also Gus's favorite dessert. But the next morning, as the whole family gathers for the group photo, one person is missing. Hannah offers to track down Uncle Gus, but her search leads to a shocking find. Over by the bar at the pavilion, she spots two slices of her infamous carrot cake, frosting-side down on the floor--and Gus's corpse with an ice pick jutting out of his chest!
Now Hannah's got to sift through a long list of suspects to find a killer--even if it could mean a recipe for her own demise...
Filled with juicy scandal, delightfully eccentric characters and 21 tempting recipes from Cream Cheese Frosting to Lemon Fluff Jell-O, bestseller Fluke's 10th Hannah Swenson mystery (after 2007's Key Lime Pie Murder) centers on a family reunion that turns deadly. Hannah's friend Marge Beeseman is thrilled when her brother, Gus Klein, who disappeared from Lake Eden, Minn., more than 30 years earlier, unexpectedly arrives. At the big family party, everyone wonders how the elegant, well-dressed Gus heard about the reunion and why he came back. When Gus fails to show up for the group photo the next morning, Hannah finds his body on a pavilion floor--with ants crawling around pieces of her carrot cake nearby. Hannah's malcontented cat, Moishe, and flickers of romance with her devoted dentist and the no-less attentive local police chief add spice to the subsequent murder investigation. The ending will leave cozy fans gasping for breath. (Mar.)
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1 . Delicious Read
Posted March 10, 2010 by Christine , OntarioPurchased this book in a bundle and pleasantly surprised to enjoy each page. Can't wait to try out the cookie recipes.
Kensington Publishing Corporation
January 31, 2009
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Excerpt from Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
The Amen couldn't come fast enough to suit Hannah Swensen. She was sitting in the third pew from the front of Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and her ears were still ringing from the fifth and final chorus of Jesu Priceless Treasure. She thought she might have suffered a slight hearing loss from Marge Beeseman's attempt at a high G, but that wasn't her primary concern. Her eyes were trained on Reverend Knudson as he emerged from the small dressing room adjacent to the pulpit. He was wearing an ordinary suit, the type Doug Greerson, president of the Lake Eden First Mercantile Bank, wore every day to work. The minister's vestments had gone the way of his solemn manner, and he was smiling as he walked forward to informally address his flock.
An ecumenical fly droned its way from the open doors at the back of the church, alighting momentarily on Lutherans, Catholics, and Bible Church members alike. The church was packed this last Sunday in August, and much of that was Hannah's mother's doing. Delores Swensen had spent the previous evening on the phone, convincing scores of Lake Eden residents to attend Reverend Knudson's ten o'clock service.
Hannah turned to look at her mother. Delores was watching the reverend with the same intent gaze that Hannah's cat, Moishe, employed to run surveillance on the chipmunk that frequented the flowerbeds beneath Hannah's living room window. The other occupants of the pew had also drawn a bead on their minister in mufti. Hannah's two younger sisters, Andrea and Michelle, appeared mesmerized by his every move. And their mother's business partner, Carrie Rhodes, was clutching her hymnal so hard Hannah was afraid she'd crack the spine. Even Carrie's son, Norman, looked nervous. This was the showdown, the eleventh hour, the pivotal moment they'd all come to witness.
Reverend Knudson made his way to the head of the center aisle with all eyes upon him. He was still smiling and he didn't look as if he had an important announcement to make, but almost everyone in the congregation, members and visitors alike, knew that he did. The reverend was about to tell them that he planned to marry Claire Rodgers, owner of Beau Monde Fashions, Lake Eden's only designer dress shop.
Startled by a poke in the ribs, Hannah turned to her youngest sister. "What is it, Michelle?" she whispered.
"Two rows back on the other side," Michelle replied, her voice so soft it was almost inaudible. Then she jerked her head in the direction she wanted her oldest sister to look and nudged her again.
Hannah turned around and gave a little gasp as she saw the couple seated two rows behind them on the aisle. It was Mayor Bascomb and his wife, Stephanie. And they were the very couple Hannah had least expected to see at Holy Redeemer Lutheran this morning!
"Mother convinced Mrs. Bascomb to come," Michelle continued, her lips close to Hannah's ear. "She didn't think anyone would have the nerve to object to Reverend Knudson and Claire getting married if they were here for the announcement. I mean . . . what reason could they give in front of the mayor's wife?"
"Diabolical!" Hannah breathed, shooting her mother an admiring look. Rumor had it that Claire had once been Mayor Bascomb's mistress. No one could prove it, but some members of the congregation tended to look down their noses at Claire. It was the reason Hannah, her family, and the scores of people that Delores had recruited were here to support the reverend's announcement. There was no way Hannah and her extended family were going to let anyone throw a damper on this happy occasion.
"I'm delighted to see so many of you at services this morning," Reverend Knudson said, beaming. And then he proceeded to announce upcoming activities for the week. Hannah learned that Bible study would take place on Monday night, there would be a church rummage sale on Tuesday afternoon, they would hold twilight services on Wednesday at seven with choir practice immediately after the service, and Luther League would meet in the church basement on Thursday night. Friday evening was slotted for Lutherans Without Partners, a new singles club. There would be two weddings on Saturday, and the regular services on Sunday morning.
"And now, if you'll bear with me, I'd like to say something on a personal note. There is someone in this congregation who is near and dear to my heart."
Hannah nudged Michelle. This was it. Reverend Knudson was about to do it!
"That someone is Winifred Henderson, and I'd like to thank her for her years of service in the church nursery. Because of Winnie, many of you mothers have enjoyed worry- free Sunday church services, knowing that your children are well cared for and happy in the nursery. Even though we don't ordinarily applaud in church, I think Winnie deserves a standing ovation."
Hannah stood and applauded along with everyone else, and then she sat back down to wait for the last announcement. Reverend Knudson's eyes met hers for a moment, and then they quickly skittered away.
Uh-oh! Hannah breathed, coming very close to groaning out loud. There was only one reason for Reverend Knudson to avoid her eyes. Claire had gotten cold feet and asked him to delay the announcement again!
The reverend's hand began to rise in a signal for the organist to play the recessional. But Hannah was quicker, and she shot to her feet. "Wait!" she said loudly. "I have an announcement to make."
All eyes swiveled in her direction, and Hannah came close to wishing that the floor would open up and swallow her. But something had to be done right now and she had to do it. Reverend Knudson and Claire were perfect for each other. And Claire was letting her fear of rejection stand in the way of their future happiness.
"I know you're too modest to mention how hard you work to keep all these church activities going," Hannah began, making up a speech as she went. "I didn't realize it before, but you just told us about a meeting, or group, or event every single day of the week. And you go to every one of them. Not only that, you counsel people if they have a problem, you visit the sick at Lake Eden Hospital, and you or Grandma Knudson are always available on the phone if we need you. I know I speak for everyone here when I say that we appreciate all the time and effort you spend looking after us and the church."
"That's right," Marge Beeseman called down from the choir loft. "We think you deserve a standing ovation, too!"
This is nice, Hannah thought as she applauded with everyone else. They're in the mood to applaud, and they'll go right on applauding when I throw them a curve.
"Sometimes we take you for granted," Hannah continued. "We forget that you have a personal life in addition to your life as our pastor. And I know that's why you're not mentioning the most wonderful news of all." Hannah looked around at the congregation. She had them on the edges of the pews. Everyone was leaning forward, waiting. "And that wonderful news is that wedding bells are about to ring for you and your bride."