Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke is the tenth book in the “Hannah Swensen” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, March 2008
Summertime has finally arrived in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen, owner of The Cookie Jar bakery, is looking forward to warm, lazy days, eating ice cream, and sharing picnics with friends. But when a family reunion takes a deadly turn, it’s up to Hannah to find a killer… 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–and his arrival has everyone buzzing with excitement.
Uncle Gus is immediately the hit of the reunion, telling tales of his great success and flashing money for all to see. 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!
A little snooping reveals that not everyone was celebrating Gus’s return. And when Hannah unearths more secrets from Gus’s past, she discovers even more people with an axe to grind. 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…
Hannah, owner of The Cookie Jar Bakery, is preparing menus for her business partner’s upcoming family reunion when a long-lost relative, Uncle Gus, comes to visit after leaving Lake Eden, Minnesota thirty years ago. He left in the middle of the night taking money without a word to his family. Later when Hannah goes looking for him, she not only finds a slice of her famous carrot cake, but she finds Uncle Gus, dead with an ice pick sticking out of his chest. Hannah who has a history of solving crimes is asked to find the killer of Uncle Gus by his relatives and by Mike Kingston, police detective who agrees to exchange clues with Hannah. With the assistance of her family members and Norman Rhodes, Hannah learns how the town really felt about Gus 30 years ago. I really enjoyed this cozy mystery and I hope that Hannah makes a decision in regards to the two men in her life. [3.5 stars – really liked it]