Book 15 in the Hannah Swensen series, published February 2012.
Hannah Swensen has to admit that her life is pretty sweet. Things are going well in the romance department, and her bakery's delectable confections are selling almost as fast as she can bake them. Even her good friend Claire is on Cloud Nine, head over heels with her new husband, Reverend Bob Knudson. If only they could find time to take their honeymoon!
When Bob's childhood friend, Matthew Walters, comes to town, it seems like divine intervention. Matthew, like Bob, is a Lutheran minister with a stubborn sweet tooth. Since he's on sabbatical, Matthew is happy to fill in for Bob while he and Claire take that long-awaited honeymoon. It sounds like the perfect plan--until Hannah finds Matthew in the rectory, face-down in a plate full of Devil's Food Cake, a single bullet in his head.
It will take some sleuthing to sift out the killer, but Hannah is sure of one thing: even the most half-baked murder plot can be oh so deadly. . .
The previous book ended with a bombshell from Norman. He hired a female dentist, who just happened to be his former fiancée, as his new partner in the dental clinic. It was supposed to give him more personal time, but so far, Norman has not had much time to spend with Hannah. So it is not so strange that Hannah is a little jealous about Bev, who is so goodlooking and will liked across town. And when her other suitor Mike asks her to make dinner for Bev’s birthday party, which he is throwing for her, she wished she had refused.
And when she finds out from Norman, that both Mike and he are dating Bev on the night that Hannah is dating the other, she has no idea what to think anymore. Did he really stop loving her? She knows Mike has a roving eye, and if she married him she will never be sure that she is the only one for her, but she is almost ready to accept Norman’s proposal. But the way he has been acting lately, so distant and cold, Hannah is just confused. Should she fight for him?
But then Hannah stumbles upon a dead body again, the substitute Reverend Matthew. She was dreading it, ever since grandma Knudson asked her to check on him. He was not answering the church office telephone, and lunch is ready. A delicious chicken soup, of which Hannah immediately wants the recipe.
Matthew is substituting for their normal Reverend, who is on his honeymoon with Claire, one of Hannah’s friends, and the owner of a fashion boutique in town. Hannah’s mother Delores is filling in for her, which is not such a good idea in Hannah’s opinion, as her mother has no tact to speak of. Luckily, there is her sister Andrea, who has the time to help out, and she is very good with people. Her mother has a great fashion sense, but so does Andrea, and she can sell everything she wants to anyone.
Reverend Matthew used to live with Grandma Knudson at the parsonage for a year as a boy, as did his cousin Paul. Both their parents were missionaries, and Matthew followed in their religious footsteps, but Paul went astray … A few years ago, Matthew tried to find his cousin, when his aunt fell ill with cancer, but the private detective he hired could not find him. But he did found out that Paul has been in prison for armed robbery. At first, grandma Knudson is very happy to have Matthew back in her life, but after a few days, she is beginning to doubt he is who he says he is, and has Hannah investigate him. Luckily Hannah, with some help from Andrea, can reassure her. He really is Matthew, and on a sabbatical from the seminary for four months.
And now Hannah finds him in the church office, shot to death. Of course she needs to investigate, and Norman happily takes a week off from work to help her. He seems to be back to his loving self, and Hannah realises how much she has missed him. Between baking cookies and cakes and deserts, Hannah and Norman and her sisters set out to investigate the murder case. Which gets convoluted, as another man claiming to be Reverend Matthew appears. Which is the real one? And if the first Reverend Matthew was a fake, was in reality his cousin Paul, who is not an ordained Reverend, all the weddings and baptisms and sacraments he has done in the past week, are invalid!
The biggest clue Hannah gets to solve this case, comes from a talking bird …
Another great mystery, which I read fairly quickly. I just skipped all the pages with recipes between the chapters, and hurried on with the story itself. I was so keen to find out more about Hannah and her two suitors, and why Norman behaved as he did. And wow, was there a bombshell on the last page!
Also Delores might have gotten herself a new suitor, and Hannah is not sure what to think of that. There is not much new about Andrea and Bill, their life is going nicely. I did not really think Michelle was necessary for the story line either, I have no idea why she came home from college this time.
Moishe, Hannah’s cat, is a very lovable secondary character, and he has a new trick. That was fun seeing Hannah trying to find out. I did not really feel the customary pull from Hannah with her feelings for both Mike and Norman. Although Mike does appear in this book, as he leads the investigation, he is not giving Hannah a hard time about it, and even shares some news with her. Nor does he try much except some kisses. I do think Hannah is leaning towards Norman more and more, but well, maybe she was waited too long to choose …
A good mystery, and a good plot, but I admit, I read this one primarily to find out about the romance story line. And to be true, I am feeling a bit disappointed in this book. The secondary characters mostly stayed secondary, not much development for them. Let’s just hope the next one rocks again.
One book per year is way too little for my tastes! I really like reading about Hannah and her two suitors, her sisters, her bakery, and her mother. It’s never dull, or more of the same as the previous books. Her solution to every problem is chocolate. It sooths, it calms, and makes you smile. I really do wonder if American people eat cookies and pie and cake every day. And do they all bake and cook everything every day?
Even though the many recipes in this book sound good, I never tried to make one myself.