Hannah Swensen of Lake Eden, Minnesota, has a better excuse than most of fiction’s lady sleuths to excuse her nosiness: her sister Andrea’s husband Bill Todd is deputy sheriff for the county and Hannah tirelessly maintains that she’s helping him. During her inter-snooping hours, she runs The Cookie Jar, a coffee shop serving and selling the goodies Hannah bakes in the back of the store. Her supplies are delivered daily by Ron LaSalle, whom she often passes on her way to work. On this fateful day, Ron’s truck is soon parked behind the store, but he fails to reappear. When Hannah finds him seated in the truck, the window open, a bullet through his chest, she’s inspired to work her way through the townspeople, looking for a motive for Ron’s death, even as she manfully resists her widowed mother’s attempts to find her a husband. The annual bash given by wealthy Del and Judith Woodley pairs Hannah with pleasant dentist Norman Rhodes, but Hannah is soon caught up by the latest scandal: the disappearance of Nat Turner, owner of the huge Cozy Cow Dairy, who didn’t show at the Buttermakers Convention, where he was to make the opening speech. Needless to say, it’s Hannah who finds Max’s body and evidence of the loan-sharking activities that provide a likely motive for his murder.
Hannah’s a likable sort despite her bent for taking over; the author’s style is easygoing if slowed by too much inane chatter. In all: a modestly entertaining debut with some delectable recipes as a bonus.