Monday, August 22, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Murder, by Joanne Fluke

Kensington, ISBN 9780758273284, May 2011

This is a new paperback edition of Fluke's 2006  eighth entry in her Hannah Swensen mystery series. In the last book, both Mike and Norman proposed to Hannah, and she's still (and will for at least several more books) engaging in her irritating dithering and inability to choose between the two men. As annoying as this is, she is 100% justified in her outraged reaction to receiving a half dozen calls before 6am demanding that she make an immediate decision so that the two men will stop acting like the lovestruck idiots that they are. This nonsense aside, though, this is another solid entry in the series.

Partly through the chance influence of Hannah's youngest sister, Michelle, a movie is coming to Lake Eden, and the production company is renting Main Street for a week. The producer turns out to be an old college friend of Hannah's, Ross Barton, and the female lead is another of their friends, Lynne Larchmont. The male lead, Burke Anson, is a virtual unknown whose biggest previous part was in a restaurant commercial, and the director is Dean Lawrence, a brilliant talent, but a sadly nasty, manipulative man.

Lake Eden, of course, is buzzing with excitement, as locals ogle the stars, land bit parts, and work as extras. Hannah's niece Tracey lands the part of the female lead as a child. Even Hannah's cat Moishe gets his star turn as the female lead's pet when she was a teenager. So despite Lawrence's difficult attitude, all is sweetness and light.

That is, right up until Lawrence, demonstrating for Burke Anson how he wants the critical suicide scene played, raises the prop gun to his temple, pulls the trigger--and shoots himself to death with what is definitely not a prop gun. The race is on (between Hannah and her sisters, and Mike and the sheriff's department) to find the killer who switched the guns--starting with the crucial question of whether Lawrence or Anson was the intended victim. Hannah and her allies ask questions, eavesdrop, notice small discrepancies, and only commit one act of outright breaking and entering in the course of tracking down the killer.

If you've enjoyed other entries in the series, you'll enjoy this one, although this is a series that benefits from being read in order.

Recommended to mystery fans.

No galley this time; I borrowed this book from my local library.

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