Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Blackberry Pie Murder

Photo Credit: Goodreads

 

Traveling With T requested this book through Netgalley.

Blackberry Pie Murder

Hannah’s mother, Delores, is outraged. The Swensen women are the butt of a joke by a news reporter about how long it has been since one of the Swensen ladies have found a body. While the daughters are taking the joke in stride, Delores is not. Hannah is not worried- it feels like ages since she found her last body- and with all the things going on (planning Delores’s wedding to Doc, running The Cookie Jar, cuddling up with Moishe and trying to decide between Mike and Norman), Hannah is ok with not finding any bodies.

One day, a dark and stormy day, Lisa, Hannah’s partner at The Cookie Jar, needs to be picked up from the car repair shop. Hannah goes and gets Lisa- worrying about the weather and decides to take the back roads back to town. The weather is terrible and Hannah is worried that if she pulls over, no one would see her and hit her. When Hannah swerves to avoid a large limb, she doesn’t see the man near the side of the road. Overcome with guilt (Hannah’s used to finding dead bodies, not causing them), but knowing that it was an accident- Hannah does not know what will happen next. Will she be arrested?

After some time, Hannah knows that she must know who this man is- why was he on the side of the road? When the Swensen women start to look into this mystery, they find out some surprising information about the victim.

With a main mystery and a smaller mystery that is related to the larger mystery, Delores and Doc’s wedding planning, and typical Moishe hijinks- Blackberry Pie Murder has something for cozy fans.

Traveling With T’s Thoughts

It’s time for tough love, Joanne Fluke. This is the 17th book in the series and the love triangle (if you can even call it that) is still going on. Let Hannah pick Norman- and let Moishe, Cuddles, Norman and Hannah live somewhat happily ever after. Why do I say “if you can even call it a love triangle”- well, at one point, both Norman and Mike seemed to really be interested in Hannah. Although, the last couple of books- Mike has been less interested in Hannah as a woman- and more for her cookies and other food.

But, to the book- Blackberry Pie Murder is not bad. It’s really not. It’s a bit predictable, though.  My problem is: it’s just not going anywhere. Hannah does the same thing basically every book and while it was cute for awhile- it’s growing old.

Joanne Fluke has always been hesitant about s-e-x in this series. And while in the earlier books, it was understandable (Hannah had her heart broken by a TA at her college), it’s time for a bit more romance for Hannah (note: ROMANCE, not 50 Shades of Grey territory).

Why do I keep reading this series? Because, for the most part, it’s like a comfy old sweatshirt. Sure, it’s not pretty anymore and you don’t wear it in public- but it makes you feel cozy and warm. I do think, though, that my patience is running thin- I don’t want to quit this series, I want to know my time invested with Hannah has been well-spent. But I’m preparing myself to walk.

Do I recommend this book? Yes- but to a very select group of people- the die hard Joanne Fluke fans. If you enjoy all the previous books, are not growing weary of the triangle, and the recipes make you happy- then this book is perfect for you. If you are like me and really enjoyed earlier Joanne books, but the later ones are not as good to you, then I suggest you pass. If you are a cozy mystery lover, I strongly, strongly, STRONGLY suggest that you begin with Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder- when you get to Cream Puff Murder- take a break.

* I requested this book through Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

 

T Traveling With T pic sign off

Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen and the “triangle that needs to end”

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?

In Praise of the “Cozy”

According to Wikipedia a “cozy” is this: A Cozy is a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Or as my brother calls them: Books about women who are coffee-shop owners, bakers, or flower shop owners who solve mysteries.

A cozy is not high-literary reading; it’s not a book with a title that you throw around in conversation to impress book-friends (or book-snobs). A cozy is not a type of book that will generally take the world by storm (Think Twilight, The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, etc).

However, a cozy is still good reading. I like that the books have a small community, a good cast of characters, and are generally likeable.  I like that reading a cozy is like visiting with old friends.  Curling up on the couch, with a cup of hot chocolate and a cozy is my ideal way to spend a lazy day with nothing to do.

If a cozy book sounds good to you, look over this list of “cozies”- maybe you’ll find something to read!

1. Joanne Fluke– Hannah Swensen Series

2. Denise Swanson– Scumble River Mysteries

3. Kate Collins– Flower Shop Mysteries

4. Ellen Byerrum– A Crime of Fashion Series

5. Cleo Coyle– Coffeehouse Mysteries

6. Diane Mott Davidson– Goldy Schulz Mysteries

These are just a few of the cozy books I enjoy- there are many more. You don’t have to begin the books from the beginning of series, either (although I highly recommend beginning the Hannah Swensen from the beginning- as the last few have not been as good as the first several, in my opinion.)

Reading, no matter what the form, whether it’s cozy, mystery/suspense, fiction, or many other genres- Reading is cool. Reading makes you part of a special group of people. Reading is a pleasure and one a person should enjoy as often as possible.

Happy Reading!