Sleuthing Minnesota baker Hannah Swensen (Carrot Cake Murder, 2008, etc.) discovers that something just doesn’t add up at a local holiday emporium.
Even though she accompanies her mother Dolores to only one session of Lake Eden Community College’s course in Small Business Practices, Hannah learns a lot about how to succeed in business without really trying. So when Dolores’ shop assistant Luanne can’t balance Larry Jaeger’s books, Hannah wonders why the apparently thriving Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot isn’t making any money. Larry’s nearly doubled his order of White Chocolate Pumpkin Dreams and Fudge-Mallow Cookie Bars, and holiday shoppers have scarfed down all seven of the Minnesota Plum Puddings she sent him. But when she goes to collect her fee for the treats, she finds both Larry and his plasma TV riddled with bullets. Forget Hannah’s inquiry into Carrie Rhoades’s sudden unavailability to play bridge with Dolores or go to the movies with her son Norman, one of Hannah’s two beaux. Instead, she cross-examines detective Mike Kingston, her other sweetie, to find out who might have it in for Larry. As her cat Moishe demolishes the handmade bird ornaments on her tree, Hannah unravels the tangle of schemes that brought Larry and his flat-screen to an untimely end.
Fluke’s tale of an unorthodox entrepreneur is really just business as usual. Neither the domestic details nor the staggering number of recipes give the mystery any more traction than an Oldsmobile in a Lake Eden winter.