Christmas Mysteries Review, Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier
Enhance your Christmas celebrations with this new trilogy of short Christmas stories. Bestselling author Joanne Fluke leads this entertaining and enjoyable tribute to seasonal literature. Fifteen delicious recipes complement the story lines; It is sure to add delight to any holiday party or upcoming Super Bowl party.
Gingerbread murder by Joanne Fluke
It’s a month before Christmas in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen is looking forward to the holidays. As the owner of The Cookie Jar, a local restaurant and cafe, she has already started her seasonal baking.
Hannah resides in the same condo development as Ernie Kusack, a recently divorced father of two teenagers. His ex-wife, Lorna, lives in the same compound.
Christmas music plays every day from Ernie’s condo, given all his free time. Ernie, a former Shamrock Limousine Company driver, won $ 8 million in the Super-Six-Lottery; and quit his job.
Ernie accepted Hannah’s request to lower the volume on the music while visiting her store. Hannah gave Ernie a dozen of her gingerbread cookies to seal the deal.
When the volume of the music becomes unbearable and Hannah’s attempts to communicate with Ernie fail, she enlists the help of police officer Mike Kingston. Hannah and Mike enter Ernie’s condo with a key provided by his ex-wife Lorna. There, they find Ernie dead on the floor near an open refrigerator door; Hannah’s previous gift of gingerbread cookies crumbles on the floor.
Who killed Ernie and why? Was it his ex-wife, Lorna, using the key to his condo? What does a cell phone number that matches Ernie’s winning lottery picks and a framed copy of the lucky ticket hanging in Ernie’s guest bathroom have to do with the crime?
Hannah Swensen is Fluke’s recurring character in his books, incorporating food into the plot and titles. Fluke weaves thirteen delicious recipes in history, including ‘Gingerbread Cookies’ and ‘Magic Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars’. ‘Game-Day Oven Burgers’ and’ Smokin ‘Willie’s Crispy Crunchy Coleslaw’ would complement any Super Bowl party.
The dangers of gingerbread cookies by Laura Levine
Jaine Austen and her cat Prozac visit their parents over the Christmas break in their retirement community of Tampa Vistas. Hank and Claire Austen are still madly in love after all these years despite their quirks. Claire repeatedly calls Prozac Zoloft and pampers the feline with table scraps, much to Jaine’s chagrin.
Jaine writes commercials in Los Angeles for a living; and her parents insist on introducing their daughter as a famous Hollywood writer: “She wrote” In a Rush to Flush? Call Toiletmasters! “
Edna Lindstrom has written this year’s Tampa Vista Christmas play titled, The gingerbread cookie that saved Christmas; and insists that Jaine review the dress rehearsal. It’s as Jaine describes, “A shameless scam of both A Christmas Carol Y Peter Pan, the tortured plot involved a gingerbread man coming to life and helping a lonely old woman discover her many blessings. “
Preston McCay, a recently retired plastic surgeon from Cleveland, joins the association. A womanizer, he quickly enchants Edna by making her believe that marriage is in her future and that she has a leading role in her play. Preston’s dialogue cannot be heard through the head of the gingerbread man costume, so they wear face makeup instead; making it look like a “moving bear with a human head”.
After the painstakingly long dress rehearsal, Edna suggests the leading lady, Laurette Kendall, director Gloria Di Nardo, Preston, and Jaine have a bite to eat. Preston refuses, claiming he is too tired.
There, at the Chinese restaurant, the foursome discover Preston having dinner with the slim, young water aerobics instructor from Tampa Vista.
Jaine watches in awe, as the spare ribs fly away, and each lady claims that Preston had planned to get married. its.
The opening night of the play is tragic, as Preston’s suspended pulley breaks during the finale; crashing it against the stage. He dies of a broken neck.
Who Killed Preston McCay? Was it one of your abandoned romantic interests or some other Tampa Vistas resident? Levine makes you laugh until the end of the mystery.
Laura Levine is a Hollywood comedy writer who promotes major television credits in her name. He is currently writing the next Jane Austen mystery.
Gingerbread cookies and shots by Leslie Meier
Lucy Stone is a wife, mother, grandmother, and part-time reporter for Tinker Cove Maine’s. Pennysaver Newspaper.
While doing some Christmas shopping, he meets four-year-old red-haired Nemo Anderson and his mother Ocean at the bakery counter. Nemo wants a gingerbread man cookie and his mother cries poverty. Nemo and Ocean live in the Aquarizoo, an abandoned aquarium that was once a tourist trap. Ocean, with a shaved head and numerous facial piercings, is unconventional to say the least.
Lucy catches up with Ocean and Nemo in the store parking lot after buying Nemo a cookie. There, Ocean’s boyfriend, Rick Juergens, is picking them up in his Porsche. Rick also sports a shaved head, various rings and studs on his face, a gold tooth, and a barbed wire tattoo around his neck. The townspeople regard the couple as drug dealers.
Lucy wonders, “How can they afford a Porsche, but can’t afford a forty-nine dollar cookie for their son?” His experience as a journalist reminds him that things are not always as they seem; and suspends the trial.
The next day, while driving, Lucy hears an AMBER Alert on her car radio announcing Nemo’s disappearance. Her abductor is described as “an oversized African American woman in a brown padded coat.” He drives a gray Honda CR-V with Massachusetts plates.
What will be the fate of Nemo? Do they find him, and if so, dead or alive? Why is Nemo’s last name Anderson and not Juergens like Rick’s? What explains Lucy’s discovering Rick’s body in her Porsche at Blueberry Pond, shot in the head, Nemo’s half-eaten gingerbread cookie that she had given her nearby, and no sign of Nemo?
Leslie Meier is the author of Sixteen Lucy Stone Mysteries and has written for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He is currently working on the next Lucy Stone mystery.
Gingerbread murder makes for an entertaining seasonal read, whether at home or on your train or bus ride to work. All three stories are infused with feel-good Christmas fanfare despite being murder mysteries. The authors show off their clean, simple writing skills, including well-concealed plots. Complement your Christmas celebrations by reading this trilogy; and consider it a gift for anyone on your list who enjoys literature.
To review selected recipes from Joanne Fluke, visit http://www.murdershebaked.com./recipe.htm.