If you thought you could predict Hannah Swenson's next move, or that author Joanne Fluke was just riding on the coattails of her series of successful culinary novels, think again. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder will both surprise and delight with its plot twists and original recipes ... it's fun to see the author mix it up a little (pun intended) and take Hannah's story in a little different direction ... there are also some simple and delicious breakfast recipes, unusual appetizers, and easy crock pot meals ... [a] stream of surprises...unfold ... If you loved Hannah before, you'll love her even more now, as your heart goes out to the hand dealt to her by fate ... Chocolate Cream Pie Murder will make your heart stir with compassion, your mouth water with its menu descriptions, and will keep your hands busy as you pull out your own ingredients and sample a treat or two as described in the book.
Recipe caution: Fluke provides extensive directions for her recipes, making them a good choice for beginners. But about half the recipes involve pre-made mixes and artificial toppings, so if you’re particular about avoiding those, prepare to do many revisions. Still, one of the pleasures of this series is getting a clue to how new recipes are devised, especially the ones that connect to friendly community events in Fluke’s version of Minnesota town life. Fluke can also be relied on for solid basic investigations, without any high-tech testing or complicated profiling. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder is an updated, country-style classic mystery, meant for simple enjoyment and a touch of admiration at how Hannah always picks herself back up again, even when there’s a body in her bedroom and a disaster in her bakery. It’s fine to read this one without having the rest of the series; plenty of clues and references to earlier plot twists arrive in a timely fashion. The only tough part about the book is the recipes can lure a reader into cooking something before reading the next chapter.
While there is little detection here, Hannah’s fans will relish following Hannah’s journey as she heals and becomes stronger, surrounded by the love of family and the many familiar, quirky residents of Lake Eden. Many delicious-sounding recipes are woven through the story, and Fluke ends this cozy mystery with another cliff-hanger, which will have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.
...subpar ... [with] an irrelevant subplot ... A murder eventually occurs, but the vast majority of the action is either eating or baking, with recipes taking up much of the book. This one’s strictly for series fans who will appreciate the many unexplained references to past incidents and people.