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Christmas Cake Murder By Joanne Fluke: Review/Giveaway/Recipe

IN THE December 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2018 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFood Fun,
andMysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Joanne Fluke

One of Joanne’s Christmas recipes from this book can be found after our review. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Christmas Cake Murder along with a link to purchase the book from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Before Hannah Swensen baked mouthwatering treats out of Lake Eden’s premier bakery The Cookie Jar, before she dated both Norm and Mike, and before she finally married only to discover that her husband… Before all of this, Hannah was a graduate student who returned to her hometown following the death of her beloved father. Hannah and her two sisters were at a loss on how to pull their mother out of her understandable depression, but Grandma Knudson knew exactly how to nudge Delores out of bed and back into her normal domineering role. Essie Granger recently fell and broke her hip, and the always helpful Delores can be counted on to rally the forces and cheer up the woman as she recuperates in the hospital. mystery book cover

Essie and her husband lived in and ran the Albion Hotel until it fell into disrepair, so Delores asks Hannah to take her there to pick personal items for Essie during her hospital stay. Among the knickknacks Hannah discovers a stack of notebooks, where Essie seemed to have begun writing a compelling tale of a young woman fleeing for her life and escaping on a bus to Brooklyn. Delores, Hannah, and her sisters soon become immersed in the adventures of the woman forging a new life in a strange city even as they themselves find themselves forging new paths themselves. The investments made by their father have given them the means to achieving their goals, which for Hannah means abandoning heartbreak and college for her dream of opening a bakery and café. It is Delores who pushes Hannah into making the first step towards opening The Cookie Jar Bakery, with some of the first delicacies being recreations the Albion’s inaugural Christmas Ball Christmas Cake Parade. When not discovering the secret ingredients to perfecting the colorful festive pastries, Hannah will unravel the mystery behind Essie’s notebooks and whether they were truth or fiction.

This is a delightful palette cleanser for readers anxiously awaiting for the next installment of the Hannah Swensen mysteries. Both they and Hannah were left reeling with shock following the events of Raspberry Danish Murder, but this novel takes a breather by going back in time to the start of her life as a professional baker. New readers can jump right into this long-running series, while faithful fans will find themselves appeased with an abundance of delicious recipes, elaborate cooking descriptions, and the good-natured humor of the Swensen women. This is the perfect heart-warming novel for the holiday season, one that is light on danger but full of emotional moments for those dealing with loss through the support of love and friendship.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Minty Dream Cookies, a recipe from Christmas Cake Murder By Joanne Fluke

DO NOT preheat oven—dough must chill before baking.

1 cup melted butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces, 1/2 pound)
1 cup powdered sugar (don’t sift unless it’s got big lumps and then you shouldn’t use it anyway)
1/2 cup white (granulated) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (critical!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (don’t sift—pack it down in the cup when you measure it)

1/4 cup white sugar in a small bowl (for coating dough balls)
1/4 cup white sugar in another small bowl
approximately 3 Tablespoons red decorator’s sugar
approximately 3 Tablespoons green decorator’s sugar
approximately 5 dozen Hershey’s Kisses

Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add the cup of powdered sugar and the half cup of granulated sugar and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Mix in the egg and the peppermint extract.
Add the baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix until everything is well combined.
Add the flour in one-cup increments, mixing after each addition. (You can add the 2 Tablespoons of flour to the last full cup.)

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least one hour. (Overnight is fine, too.)

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. with the rack in the middle position. While your oven is preheating, either spray your cookie sheet(s) with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray or line them with parchment paper.

Add the red decorator’s sugar to one bowl of white sugar and mix it in with a fork from your silverware drawer.
Add the green decorator’s sugar to the other bowl of white sugar and mix it in.
Use your impeccably clean hands to roll the dough into walnut-size balls.
Roll half of the dough balls in the bowl of red and white sugar.
Roll the second half of the dough balls in the bowl of green and white sugar.
Place the sugar-coated dough balls on a cookie sheet, 12 to a standard-size sheet.
Unwrap the Hershey’s Kisses and place one, point up, on top of each sugared dough ball. Press it down so that it will stay in place.
Bake your Minty Dream Cookies at 325 degrees F. for 10 to 15 minutes. (The cookies should have a tinge of gold on the top.) Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Hannah’s Note: If you used parchment paper to line your cookie sheet, just pull the paper, cookies and all, over to a wire rack.
Yield: Approximately 5 dozen crunchy, buttery, sugary peppermint and chocolate cookies.

To enter to win a copy of Christmas Cake Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “christmas cake,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 8, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on iTunes and Google Play.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie Price December 2, 2018 at 4:39am

Thank you so much for this giveaway. I have always enjoyed this series.


2 Carl December 2, 2018 at 8:26am

I’m one of those people that likes Christmas cake and the cookies sound delicious too. Thanks for the chance to win Christmas Cake Murder!


3 Carl December 2, 2018 at 8:26am



4 DOWARD WILSON December 2, 2018 at 8:30am

Sounds like a good read!


5 Carol Knudtson December 2, 2018 at 8:40am

These sound yummy. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com


6 Sharon Whaley December 2, 2018 at 11:44am

Cookies sound yummy. Will try these


7 Tammy
Twitter: @Tighefan42
December 2, 2018 at 3:05pm

I love the Hannah Swensen series. Thanks for the chance.



8 Corrie Justesen December 2, 2018 at 3:08pm

I love this series.


9 Heather Nichols December 2, 2018 at 3:11pm

Thanks for the chance to win. I love this series!


10 Donna Caldwell
Twitter: @Donna
December 2, 2018 at 3:13pm

I would love to read this!


11 Maridele December 2, 2018 at 3:16pm

One of my favorite authors!


12 Michelle Everhart December 2, 2018 at 3:19pm

Thanks for the chance and Happy Holidays


13 Joan Brinner
Twitter: @Craftyjunebug
December 2, 2018 at 3:38pm

Thank you for the chance. I love Joanne Fluke!


14 Cathy December 2, 2018 at 3:52pm

I love this series of books. I would love a free one. Haha


15 KarenM December 2, 2018 at 3:58pm

I have only read one other in this series.
This sounds like a good opportunity to see her backstory.

Thank you for the recipe.

karenmayers at aol dot com


16 Jacquelyn Savela December 2, 2018 at 3:59pm

This Minnesotan loves Hannah!


17 Linda Bell December 2, 2018 at 4:03pm

I can never get enough of these books. I am definitely a Hannah-maniac!


18 Kathy Augustin December 2, 2018 at 4:11pm

I’m anxiously waiting my turn to get to the top of the reserve list at the library. I’ve also enjoyed trying some of the recipes.


19 C M Harper December 2, 2018 at 4:27pm

Love Joanne Fluke books.


20 Jenny December 2, 2018 at 4:48pm

Joanne Fluke is my favorite author! You can never go wrong with a read of one hers. Great choice for a giveaway! Thanks!


21 Sue O’Connor December 2, 2018 at 5:23pm

I love Christmas and I love all your books. I would love to win so I can read this newest book and share with my friends


22 Sam Gerrits December 2, 2018 at 5:36pm

Thank you for the giveaway


23 Wendy Clark December 2, 2018 at 6:08pm

Please enter me.


24 Sharon Whaley December 2, 2018 at 7:31pm

Love this series. Cookies sound yummy


25 Cindi klemm December 2, 2018 at 11:13pm

Yummy yummy yummy..both the recipes and the writing!


26 Christine Rice December 3, 2018 at 6:39am

Would love to win a copy. Especially if it was autographed? Love this series and the recipes!


27 Debbie Fox
Twitter: @lysolqueen
December 3, 2018 at 2:09pm

I love the books by Joanne. The recipes are so good too.


28 Connie Gereffi December 3, 2018 at 5:47pm

Great author, I can’t wait to get my hands on the latest Hannah
Swenson mystery!


29 Faith Creech December 3, 2018 at 9:30pm

Thanks so much for the chance to win this book. I enjoy reading all the books by this author.
faithdcreech at gmail dot com


30 susie shively December 4, 2018 at 8:44am

I would LOVE to win the book, I have all the previous books in series, receipes are good too….bwshively@verizon.net…tks for chance


31 Dianne Casey December 4, 2018 at 3:37pm

One of my favorite series. Looking forward to reading “Christmas Cake Murder”.


32 Dawn December 5, 2018 at 2:03pm

Awesome ??


33 Linda Herold
Twitter: @Linda
December 6, 2018 at 3:00pm

What a great author. Thanks for the chance to win! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com


34 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
December 17, 2018 at 11:04am

We have a winner!


35 Chris P January 6, 2019 at 12:10pm

Where is the recipe for Christmas Cake?
It’s why I bought the book!


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