Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke is the eleventh book in the “Hannah Swensen” mystery series.  Publisher: Kensington, March 2009

inter in Lake Eden, Minnesota, is the perfect time to curl up by a cosy fire with something – and someone – sweet. But while bakery owner Hannah Swensen can provide herself with the confections, cuddling will have to take a back seat to sleuthing when her sometime-squeeze becomes a murder suspect…With the launch party of her mother’s novel around the corner, Hannah has a dress to fit into and a date with her sister, Andrea, at Lake Eden’s new health club, Heavenly Bodies. Dragging herself out of bed on a frigid Minnesota morning for exercise, of all things, is bad enough. Discovering a dead body floating in the gym’s Jacuzzi? Okay, that’s worse. Nor does it help that there’s a plate of The Cookie Jar’s very own cream puffs garnishing the murder scene. The fact that they were purchased by none other than Hannah’s part-time flame, Detective Mike Kingston, is simply the icing on what’s shaping up to be one very messy cake…Mike may be the prime suspect in the murder of man-eating bombshell Ronni Ward, but he’s by no means the only one. Ronni, a fitness instructor at both the Sheriff’s department and Heavenly Bodies, made a nasty habit of throwing her own heavenly body at every man, eligible or not, who crossed her path. Plenty of Lake Eden’s ladies won’t miss Ronni, including her ex-fiance’s former girlfriend, the angry mother of one of her would-be conquests, and even the mayor’s wife. Could any of them have wanted her gone badly enough to make it happen? Mike’s recruited Hannah to find out, and, as any suspended, suspected detective would, he’s micromanaging her every step of the way…Between trying to narrow the list of Ronni’s enemies down to fewer than half the town’s female population and resisting the urge to remove Mike from the running by throttling him herself, Hannah has her plate full. Trouble is, when it comes to cookies – and to murder – there’s always room for one more.

Hannah, owner of The Cookie Jar Bakery has to do two things for her mother, wear the regency dress that was ordered and make cream puffs for the book launch.  When the dress fits snug, Hannah with the help of her sister goes on a diet and begins an exercise routine.  Ronnie Ward is the local femme fatale and insults the ladies in her class and it’s no wonder she is found dead in the Jacuzzi by Hannah.  Hannah’s part-time police detective boyfriend, Mike Kingston is off the case since he had an association with the victim and the other two policemen are off as well because their association so they want Hannah to investigate with their unofficial assistance.  With the help of her sisters, business partner, mother and Norman, her other suitor, they will puff the killer out.  This was a good mystery and I enjoyed watching Hannah solve this crime using what she does best, listening and following the clues.  I hope in the next book, Hannah has selected the man who captures her heart and no more triangles.  [3.5 stars – liked it]

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