Book 14 in the Hannah Swensen series, published February 2010 in hardcover, the paperback just came out this month.
Early summer brings plenty of work for baker Hannah Swensen, even before Mayor Bascombe’s wife drops by The Cookie Jar to place an order for her charity event … for eleven hundred cookies! And Hannah almost flips when her business partner Lisa suggest setting up an apple turnover stand. But she places her faith in Lisa and agrees to be a magician’s assistant in the fundraiser’s talent show …
The only snag is the show’s host, college professor Bradford Ramsey. Hannah and her sister, Michelle, each had unfortunate romances with Ramsey, and when the cad comes sniffling around between acts, Hannah tells him off. But when the curtain doesn’t go up, she discovers Ramsey backstage, dead, with a turnover in has hand. Now Hannah must find a killer who’s flakier than puff pastry – and far more dangerous …
Norman leaves his cat Cuddles with Hannah for a few days, while he is off to visit some friends in the city. They just opened a brand new dental clinic, and he wants to celebrate with them. In the meanwhile back at Lake Eden, there is a big charity event scheduled, a lot of good causes in Lake Eden need money, and the yearly charity event is meant to raise the needed amount. But this time the Mayor’s wife is in charge, and she really pulls everything out. Getting donations of time and goods for the cause, she now hunts down Hannah to provide the cookies she needs. But Hannah and Lisa are extremely busy already, and Hannah really doesn’t want to take the time needed to bake and handdecorate so many cookies. But Lisa comes up with an acceptable alternative, and even a brilliant marketing idea for apple turnovers.
She also enrols her husband Herb in the talent competition, with his magic show. Hannah still has horrified memories of the dress she wore the previous time, but luckily Herb has a new assistant nowadays.
With Norman out of town, Mike is extra courteous to Hannah, taking her home, making sure there are no intrudes hiding inside. And when he kisses her, o boy, her knees are melting. But then he tells her she deserves a better husband than he is, she really ought to marry Norman. He, Mike, loves her, but he is not good enough. He doesn’t know if he could really take the risk to just love one woman and not stray on her like he has done before. She would never know if he was faithful, while Norman would be. But Hannah still doesn’t know if she is ready to get married, and she doesn’t want to choose between her two, sometimes three, boyfriends. She loves them all for different reasons.
Then Herb’s assistant turns out to be ill with the flu, and Hannah agrees to help out again. At least she won’t have to wear that hideous dress again, as she gave it away last time. But low and behold, it turns up again and she has no other option than to wear it. And this time there will be no Norman to photoshop the picture and change the color of the dress.
All the contestants are required for a pre-meeting to discuss protocol and the rules, and Hannah is dreading to meet professor Bradford Ramsey again. He didn’t recognize her last time, but perhaps his memory has cleared. And it has, he threatens her and her baby sister Michelle, and Hannah gets so angry, she threatens him right back. And Herb is witnessing it all, something he rather would not have known.
Then during the pause between the acts, Ramsey is murdered, and Hannah is the one to find him. She knows she will have to tell Mike everything now, and there will be suspects galore. Ramsey has always been a ladykiller, and he won’t have changed his behaviour since coming to Lake Eden.
Norman leaves Hannah stranded at the Casino Evening, he has been acting distant ever since he came back from town, and she and Andrea decide to scope out Ramsey’s apartment for clues. And they sure find something: the mayor’s wife, looking for her lost earring in the bedchamber! But her alibi holds, and Hannah crosses her of the list again. Then there is assistant he promised a job to, but changed his mind about, and the girl he got pregnant, both his ex-wives, and numerous others.
Of course Hannah is stupid enough to go away with the murderer when she wants to ask him some questions, and only a little dog can save her now.
But the ending of the book sure had me flabbergasted. I want to know what will happen next!