Lake Eden’s too small to have more than one murderer. (Kindle edition, location 3056)
More cozy, more cats, more murder, all inside!
Hannah Swenson, proprietor of The Cookie Jar (the most popular — and I suspect only — cookie shop in Lake Eden, MN) is a pretty typical heroine for a cozy mystery. She lives alone with her cat, Moishe (a recently rescued feral), has an assistant who is beyond competent, an overbearing mother determined to set her up with every eligible man in Lake Eden despite Hannah’s firm rejection of her efforts and, the morning the story begins, a murdered dairy deliveryman in the alley behind her shop. And so the story goes, with Hannah helping her brother-in-law, Bill, to solve the case so he can get the promotion that won’t stop her sister, Andrea, from working as a real estate agent.
The book’s chock-a-block full of handsome men and women more beautiful than Hannah (per Hannah. And her mother. And so on). Someday I want to live in one of these small towns, only without the “everyone up in everyone else’s business” that happens in these novels. No affairs, this time, but lots of cookies-as-therapy, one battered wife, and one whodunnit that I really didn’t see coming until just before the Big Reveal. So that was satisfactory enough for my purposes. And there were the occasional lines that caused me not so much to laugh out loud as snicker slightly to myself:
Now that Hannah had moved closer, she could see some of the numbers showing through the paint and she doubted that Max’s grandfather had sported a seventeen tattooed on his forehead. (Kindle Edition, location 2616)
Hannah, for her part, is likable enough: she doesn’t seem to have much of a temper, but she has a smart mouth and, contrary to her mother and sister’s beliefs, is a lot more tactful than she usually lets on. She doesn’t see herself as a people-pleaser, and throughout the book she bribes people with enough cookies that I was starting to wonder how she keeps the Cookie Jar afloat. Not to mention she makes coffee like this:
Hannah removed three eggs from the refrigerator behind the counter and dropped them, shells and all, into the bowl with the coffee grounds. Then she broke them open with a heavy spoon and added a dash of salt. Once she’d mixed up the eggs and shells with the coffee grounds, Hannah scraped the contents of the bowl into the basket and flipped on the switch to start the coffee. (location 162)
Someone who drinks coffee, please tell me: is this a thing people do? Because…yuck. Also, salmonella.
Everyone may know everyone else, but the town supports two dairies: The Cozy Cow and the Mielke Way (and, okay, I laughed at that last), the Cookie Jar, the consignment shop next door, and a few other businesses as well as a policeman whose job is to take care of traffic violations and nothing else. Moishe is, as cats are in these sorts of novels, ascribed all sorts of intelligence he probably doesn’t have.
Her mother would be horrified to learn that the only one who’d ever used one of the cut-glass dessert dishes was the cat who’d shredded her stockings. (location 999)
The town is also unrelentingly white, and I don’t mean just the snow. For whatever reason (maybe just because I’ve been reading a lot of cozies lately and the problem is kind of endemic), that really bothered me.
Overall, though, I found it a pretty enjoyable read, even if it was a little off-kilter in terms of when it was set (people used landlines and cameras with film and I couldn’t tell if it was because they were in a ‘small town’ or if it was reflective of the temporal rather than physical setting), and there were a few other logistical and writing tics that I found a little off-putting.
I don’t know if I’ll continue pursuing this series or not. Maybe if another comes up on sale through BookBub. But if I try the included cookie recipes (e.g., Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies, Regency Ginger Crisps, Chocolate Covered Cherry Delights, etc.) and they come out any good that might change my mind.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries you’ll probably enjoy Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (and possibly the Lifetime movie based on it: I don’t know). Otherwise, I can’t say I’d bother.