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Christmas Caramel Murder51on3ca9dql

A Hannah Swenson Holiday Mystery

By Joanne Fluke


Hardcover, 206 pages, $20.00

includes 12 holiday recipes

takes place in Lake Eden, Minnesota

While enjoying a quiet dinner for two at Lake Eden Inn, Ross and Hannah are treated to a new holiday dessert Sally is considering serving at the inn. Afterward, Hannah recalls the story of last year’s Christmas and its deadly surprise.

What should have been a time of joy, quickly turned into a thoughtless decision on Mayor Bascomb’s part. “Hoo Hoo Hoo” turned into “what in the world” when the mayor hired his lover and had her reassigned to work in the town marshal’s office when his wife learned about it.

The mayor’s actions caused more than a little tension in Hannah Swenson’s business partner’s home. Lisa’s husband, Herb, once dated the mayor’s lover, Phyllis. So now one wife is angry and the other is concerned. To further the tension, the mayor appointed Phyllis to be Mrs. Claus, when Lisa should have been.

Quick thinking has Lisa volunteering so that she and Hannah can double their order of goodies for the children, from Santa, and to sell goodies during the Lake Eden Players Christmas play. During a rehearsal, Lisa and Hannah are both present and witness what in reality should be a stage kiss from Mrs. Claus. But it turns out to be a real kiss. This upsets Lisa. She leaves the auditorium as its her husband Mrs. Claus kissed. Hannah knows the best thing she can do for Lisa is to keep her busy so she doesn’t think about what she saw. After working on the gift bags, Hannah suggests they eat dinner at the Corner Tavern. Lisa doesn’t show up right away. Later, they call it a night and head to their cars. That’s when Hannah’s intuitive alarm kicks in and she finds a Santa’s hat and a body in the snow. The dead woman is Mrs. Claus and everyone’s guessing who might have killed her.

Christmas Caramel Murder is a fast read and another one of those books where you think you know who did the dark deed and damn if the author didn’t choose someone else. I try to read every Hannah Swenson mystery Joanne writes because her characters, even her cat, are so familiar to me, sometimes a little too sweet, but you gotta love them. If anyone can solve a murder, and she does it without tech gadgets, its Hannah.

As a season shorter length mystery, I like that it incorporated something that is usually so innocently represented, Mrs. Claus and a kiss, and made it the reason for murder. For the most part, the majority of Hannah’s books have a bakery product, as the cause for murder. Not this one. She cleverly has you thinking there has to be two characters who had a good reason to want the mistress out of the way for good. What’s really scary here is the guilty party could have been stopped, but sometimes that’s a hard call to make.

Three Christmas caramels out of five

Denise Fleischer


Dec 23, 2016

PS: After reading this book I had to run out to Trader Joes to get Dark Chocolate Caramels..no kidding.