Joanne Fluke was my first introduction to the world of cozy books. I read her 2nd book, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, and thought that it was quite enjoyable- a good town, nice characters, and a heroine who was funny, and charming in her own ways. She was a tad off-beat, not a size 6 and gorgeous character, and smart- something that, at the time, was a bit lacking in characters.
As I began to read the first book, and more in the series- I enjoyed Hannah and her family. The escapades, the small-town charms, and her dating life. She begun dating Norman Rhodes, the town dentist, and Mike Kingston, detective on Lake Eden’s police force, early in the series- and has continued to date both of the men throughout the series. Both men proposed to Hannah in Peach Cobbler Murder (the 7th book in the series) and she told them both she wasn’t ready and would let them know who she chooses when she’s ready. We’re now on book 18 and Hannah is still dating both men. This “triangle” was cute for awhile- but 11 books later0 it’s grown beyond old. Beyond.
And the romance- well neither romance is hot and heavy. At first, I appreciated that aspect- I don’t want to read a cozy where the “romance” scenes are hot and heavy all the time- I even thought it was refreshing to see a character that wasn’t bed-hopping, or had lewd references all the time. It even made sense for several books- Hannah had been involved in a brief affair with a college TA (with a fiancee) , and was still smarting from being duped by him. But, other cozy mystery writers (see Jenn McKinlay, Denise Swanson, Cleo Coyle) address the issue of romance, without it being lewd and bed-hopping- thus making the romance aspect more believable.
Now, I know cozy books usually have recipes mixed in with the plot, that the characters are part of the charm of the cozy world and the crimes are not graphic. This is what I like about the cozy series- but lately, it just seems that besides no movement on the romance front- that Joanne Fluke is more interested in writing a cookbook. So when she did write one- I thought “OK, maybe we’ll cut back just a teeny bit on the recipes”- but no, they have been increasing. Don’t get me wrong- they sound good for the most part. But at times it feels like they are “filler” to meet the quota of pages.
In the latest book, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, the reader saw multiple mentions to the “chase” game that Moishe and Cuddles partake in each time they are together. I understand that for some readers this may have been the first book by her to read- so yes, you’d need to know about the game. But for long time readers, it’s getting old (although not as old as the “triangle”)- However, the ‘chase” game did not need to be mentioned multiple times in the same book. Once was sufficient to let new readers know, and then the continual description of what the cats were doing could have stopped.
One might wonder why I keep reading the books- I read for 2 reasons: 1. Even with all the things I don’t care for about the book series now- they still have some good to them. They are like a big sweatshirt- cozy and comfy. and 2. because I want to know how this ends. I’ve invested time in Hannah and I want to see how the series will end.
Will ending the triangle breathe life back in this series? I don’t know. Sometimes I think it would. Sometimes, I think the series needs to take a break or end. These used to be pre-order on Amazon books- and now I just check them out from library.
Dear readers- what happens when a series you’ve been a faithful reader of starts to falter? Do you continue because you want to know what happens? Stop? Stop buying them and just borrow?