After what she promised her anxious mother would be her one and only foray into crime-solving, Hannah Swenson (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, 2000) is ready to return to relative obscurity as proprietor of The Cookie Jar, the favorite spot for coffee-and-whatever in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She may thwart mama's desires by dating sexy cop Mike Kingston rather than steady-Eddie dentist Norman Rhoades. She may even agree to a brief stint as head judge of Hartland Flour's Dessert Bake-Off (to be televised locally following the nightly news). But no more murders. At least, not until fellow judge Boyd Watson, coach of the Jordan High School basketball team, turns up in his garage lying face downward in a puddle of strawberries and crème fraîche. His wife Danielle, home nursing her latest black eye, is so sure she'll be accused that she goes ballistic. So, moved by Danielle's pleas, Hannah agrees to try her hand at detection just one more time, enlisting the help of her chic and poised sister Andrea (and in the process resolving their long-standing smart-vs.-pretty-sister rivalry). Together, the two Nancy Drews search every hidden corner of the tiny midwestern Mecca, asking unguarded questions of everyone who might possibly know anything about the murder—including, of course, the murderer. For all her recklessness, though, does anybody believe Hannah won't be available for still more encores?
Fluke's small deviations from formula are laudable, but not enough to counterbalance her draggy pace and clumsy clueing.