My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3 stars to Joanne Fluke‘s Key Lime Pie Murder. The 9th book in the Hannah Swensen series delivers good cozy fun and is a simple, quick and easy read for fans. But I’m getting a bit concerned with the love story Hannah can’t resolve — choose one, Hannah, or abandon them for Ross!
The carnival blows into Lake Eden full of quirky new folks, interesting little dramas for the townspeople and strange connections to the past. Hannah’s asked to be 1 of 3 judges in the baking contest and consumes tons of different breads, cakes, pies and desserts. When she finds one of her co-judges clobbered to death, Hannah knows she’s stumbled upon trouble once again. Poor Willa Sunquist, a former Lake Eden resident with a few secrets, loses her life and throws Hannah into a panic. Did one of the residents object to Willa’s return? Did one of the traveling carnies exact revenge? Or was this someone stalking the victim all across the country?
Hannah once again solves the mystery alongside her growing assistants with sister Michelle getting more actively involved in this one. Throw in some more romance with Mike and Norman, and Hannah’s life seems to be a non-stop roller coaster. Fun side stories about diets, family reunions, marriage and magic.
1. Lake Eden is an amazing town. Let’s ignore all the murders that happen for now. The vivid cast of characters and the realistic setting are a fantastic part of why these books are so successful. Fluke has created a world you can escape to finding both drama and comfort all at the same time.
2. Besides the main plot, there are several smaller plots that are moving the overall story along quite nicely. All of the main characters are starting to have their own stories that draw you in tightly… so even when the primary murder mystery gets a tad frustrating, you have other parts that keep you connected.
1. Something changed with the style in this book. It’s not a huge change, but everyone has started picking on Hannah for being a bit overweight. In the earlier books, Hannah would comment on it once or twice and a friend who make her feel better, but in #9, everyone has something to say about her weight. And people like Lisa and Andrea who have never really been rude before come across as insensitive. It annoyed me a bit — hope that part doesn’t continue in the series.
2. The mystery plot took more than half the book to actually occur. Luckily, Fluke holds your attention with all the other attributes in the book, but by about page 150, I realized the death had just occurred and we barely had any idea who she was or why she was killed. The actual sleuthing all rushed by in the last 75 pages. It seems this was more about the carnival characters and less about the murder. It eventually comes together, but for new readers, they might think this isn’t the cozy for them if the murder takes that long to occur.
I’d put this one near the middle of the books as far as personal appeal. It’s a great character and setting builder. It’s a weak mystery. I wasn’t invested in Willa to care exactly why she was murdered. I think more time should have been spent in building background on Willa and her connection to the town of Lake Eden. Depsite some of the flaws, I’d still recommend to someone who wants a good series and can sometimes ignore the lack of a strong mystery.
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