After finding a total of five dead bodies over the past few months, and solving two crimes that left even the local police force stumped, flame-haired cookie queen, Hannah Swensen is determined to act like a normal business owner for once, and throw herself headfirst into the work that she loves - running Lake Eden, Minnesota's booming shop, The Cookie Jar. First up, supplying an array of tasty treats for the annual Winter Carnival. But in the world of Hannah, where there are cookies, there's murder, and before she knows it, she's at it again.
Since returning to Lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah Swensen has discovered that she truly adores the small town way of life. The fact that she knows each and every one of her neighbor's is a pleasant discovery, and she can't help but feel as if all of the customers who stop in at The Cookie Jar are like family to her. Except for world-renowned cooking sweetheart, Connie Mac. When the lifestyle maven agrees to bake the cake for Lake Eden, Minnesota's annual Winter Carnival, the Lake Eden residents are up in arms with excitement - except for Hannah. Connie Mac may seem like a lovely person on screen, but in reality she's a demanding, conniving, unkind individual - at least to the people who work for her. To everyone else she's an underhanded, manipulative mastermind who can get just about anyone to do her bidding. Except for Hannah. As much as Hannah dislikes the TV host, she certainly doesn't want to see her dead; but that's exactly how she finds her. When Hannah arrives at The Cookie Jar to start the days work, she is shocked to discover the burnt to a crisp Winter Carnival cake, along with the lifeless body of Connie Mac lying in her pantry, surrounded by Hannah's special Blue Blueberry Muffins. Hannah has seen people go wild for her muffins, but this is the first time someone has literally gone belly up. The victim of a skull-bashing, Connie Mac has managed to cause just as much turmoil in her death, as she did during her living days - especially for Hannah. Due to the fact that Connie Mac was murdered in The Cookie Jar, Hannah's booming business has been marked a crime scene, and is completely off-limits. With the Winter Carnival looming just around the corner, Hannah knows that she can't possibly get her work done without a slew of commercial ovens by her side, so she resolves to do something to save her business - solve the murder herself. But as people begin dropping like flies, Hannah will have to keep her head in an attempt to catch the killer - before she finds herself next on the chopping block!
I don't know how she does it, but with each addition to the Hannah Swensen series, Joanne Fluke manages to make the reader feel more and more like a resident of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Hannah is such a delightful character whose no-frills demeanor, firecracker personality, sarcastic slings, and passion for baked goods makes her lovable from beginning to end. Her fast-talking ways are quick-witted and creative; and her recipes are absolutely to-die-for (no pun intended!) treats. The only person who almost manages to overshadow Hannah would have to be her precocious four-year-old niece, Tracey, who comes off as sweet as Hannah's original concoctions. Once more, Fluke has proven that Hannah Swensen is a character who is here to stay - and her next adventure will be just as mouthwatering as the last three. Third times the charm!