Things have improved in my mind just a little since the disaster that was introducing Ross 2 books ago. There are still irritating moments when Hannah “struggles” to adjust to being married (What if Ross doesn’t like this?, I think I might want kids, but does he?), but at least the mystery solving is back to what it usually is, and there’s more Hannah and friends-family to bring back the banter. The twist this time is that Hannah actually does not discover any bodies. This time, it’s Delores’ turn. The change works out well enough, but the opening sequence of Delores falling over in a broken chair doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. She has a really hard time getting out of it, and I’m not sure why. That the murdered person was a friend of hers might also explain why there’s virtually nothing unpleasant about the victim until the murderer’s monologue. Because the monologue suggests some bad things in Tori’s character, it doesn’t seem believable because there’s been very little info about the victim herself, presumably because Delores and family already knew her.
Michelle seems to have become an increasingly important presence in the novels, and this time she gets a little more character development. This was a nice touch, when Hannah realizes that her baby sister is maturing into an adult with goals and works towards them. It’s also Michelle who points out to Hannah that she and Ross didn’t wait very long after they reconnected (after not seeing each other since college- at least 10 years ago) to get married, and so didn’t really know each other as mature adults. Since Hannah still suffers from teen-like angst about boys, even after she’s married, I really appreciated Michelle’s perspective on things, since it’s far more reasonable.
There also seems to be more recipes (many not Hannah’s) in this book than in previous ones. I like recipes, but there does seem to be less story, so it almost feels like there are more recipes to cover the lack of narrative. And when there are thin spots there to begin with, it seems a little like cheating.
There is a little too much emphasis on ‘how wonderful are my friends and family’ to the point that suspension of disbelief gets difficult. A welcome party after returning from your honeymoon is one thing, but a near total redecoration of Hannah’s condo as a surprise wedding present? Then there’s the fact the Mike and Norman still are around to help and hang out. How many prospective boyfriends still hang around a girl they liked like that after she’s married someone else?
What was set up as the big twist at the end though was set up too obviously in the previous full novel, so I was not really all that surprised. I do hope that solution to that isn’t dragged out over multiple books though. I also hope that Ross ends up being a murder victim in one of those future books. Soon. Then maybe Hannah and Lake Eden will get back to the amusing harmless entertainment they used to be.