Friday, March 13, 2009

Inside the List - Bloody Bake Sale: "Cream Puff Murder" (Joanne Fluke)

From The New York Times --

Inside the List - Bloody Bake Sale: "Cream Puff Murder" --

Published: March 13, 2009 --

BLOODY BAKE SALE: “Cream Puff Murder,” Joanne Fluke’s 11th mystery featuring the sleuthing small-town Minnesota baker Hannah Swensen, enters the hardcover fiction list at No. 12 this week. Unfamiliar with this leading exemplar of the “culinary mystery” genre? Think of it as “The Silence of the Lambs” for the snickerdoodle set, with lots of recipes thrown in. In “Key Lime Pie Murder,” Hannah hunts down the killer of a baking contest judge at the county fair. In “Carrot Cake Murder,” she discovers a dead body at a family reunion with ant-­covered crumbs of the title pastry scattered nearby. In the interest of fact-checking, I decided to whip up a batch of Hannah’s Viking cookies and see if any of my colleagues would dare take a bite. Reactions were largely positive. “After the initial bouquet of Tollhouse cookies dissipates, there’s a lingering effect of molasses and granola on the palate. And the nuts — macadamia? — provide a suitably neutral (almost buttery) backdrop to highlight the complex balance between spiciness and sweetness.” (No nuts, for the record: those are white chocolate chips.) One taster praised the “denticular thrill” provided by the “vigorous crunch,” though another confessed to preferring “softer, bulkier American behemoths.” But this reaction took the cookie: “Hard, rough and burly, like a Viking should be! Oaty, with a strong hint of outer and inner toughness. One more of these and I’ll be sacking Canterbury before the end of the day!” According to her Web site,, Fluke is currently testing recipes for “Plum Pudding Murder,” out in October. Warning: It includes a dead elf! The book, that is, not the pudding.

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