Book Review: “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Warning: This book review contains spoilers for “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke!

Cover of "Chocolate Cream Pie Murder" by Joanne Fluke
Cover of “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke.

Happy April, everyone! I hope that all of you are having a safe and fun time with many books.

I’m back with another book review and this time I’m reviewing “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke! I’ve read several of her books before in this series (albeit out of order), and I promise that this review is no joke whatsoever!

Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:

“When The Cookie Jar becomes the setting of a star-studded TV special about movies filmed in Minnesota, Hannah hopes to shine the spotlight on her bakery—not the unsavory scandal swirling around her personal life. But that’s practically impossible with a disturbing visit from the shifty character she once believed was her one and only love, a group of bodyguards following her every move, and a murder victim in her bedroom. Now, swapping the crime scene in her condo for her mother Delores’s penthouse, Hannah and an old flame team up to solve a case that’s messier than an upended chocolate cream pie. As suspects emerge and secrets hit close to home, Hannah must serve a hefty helping of justice to an unnamed killer prowling around Lake Eden . . . before someone takes a slice out of her!”

Content Warning:

This book mentions of abuse within a prior romantic relationship, infidelity, bigamy, manipulation, explicit threats and stalking, as well as murder (which is somewhat-graphically described). If you are uncomfortable with any of this content, I suggest that you skip reading this book.

Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

You can mostly read this book without knowing much of what happened in previous books in the series. “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” is a book that takes place much later in the Hannah Swensen series, which I didn’t realize until after I finished reading, and I can safely say that I felt quickly brought up to speed with Hannah’s situation in the first chapter.

For those who loathe the love triangle of Hannah, Norman and Mike throughout this series, rejoice! The book thankfully doesn’t focus much on this part, and focuses on the actual main plot instead. It turns out that Hannah’s marriage was actually invalid for plot-spoiler reasons I won’t list here. And now her technically ex-husband? Ross is out to get money from Hannah…and threatening to kill her to do so.

I liked that the entire town banded together to help out Hannah. Everyone was willing to look out for her, from the police to even close friends and neighbours. It is heartwarming to see the entire town help her out when she’s in such a crisis. However, the person who is murdered doesn’t get murdered until five chapters before the end of the book.

Instead, much of the main plot focused on Hannah trying to stay safe from Ross rather than the murder mystery taking place. I know that it was important for Hannah to stay safe and so I figured a good chunk of the story would focus on that. However, did Ross’ murder have to take so long to execute, especially considering how many people in town despised him?

Jamming the murder into the last few chapters made the entire mystery incredibly rushed. I wish the the murder happen sooner, so the rest of the mystery could be paced out better.

Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars

I think Hannah went through a lot more development than she usually does in the books in this series. This is likely due to her having to process her marriage to Ross being a sham, as well as dealing with the ugly side of him when he re-emerges in town. I enjoyed reading her working through all of the lies and deception she previously went through.  Her taking charge of things herself and persevering in figuring out what’s best for herself also helped.

I thought the other characters could use more depth. I think the book tried to make Ross somewhat-redeemable with him trying to get money from Hannah because he was otherwise in danger. However, this book just made me hate Ross and root for him getting murdered as soon as possible. Norman and Mike were okay to read and could use more development, as well as all the other side characters. However, this book majorly focused on Hannah’s personal situation. I think it made sense that there was less development for the other characters in this case.

Overall, I’m rating this book 3.5 out of 5 stars!

This rating would be higher if not for the murder mystery being jammed into the last chapters. I do think this is a fun book to read overall, though, and one of the better books in the series.

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