Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mysteries Good Enough to Eat

I've mentioned before that my library offers downloadable audiobooks and I have become quite enamored of them. I finished the Max Allan Collins disaster series (the ones that were available, at least) and have moved on to the Joanne Fluke Hannah Swensen mysteries.

Hannah Swensen is a 30-something small business owner (she owns a cookie/coffee shop) in the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Her mother Dolores is urging her to marry before it's too late, and keeps setting her up on dates. One of these is Norman Rhodes, the town's dentist, who is a very nice man and one of the few who really gets Hannah's sense of humor.

On the other hand, the new sherrif's deputy, Mike Kingston, gets Hannah's heart racing. If Norman is a warm, comfortable log fire on a winter's night, Mike is a wildfire racing through the woods. Mike's kisses make Hannah melt, but sometimes he can make Hannah's temper really flare.

Norman and Mike are friendly rivals for Hannah' attentions--they can be comfortable with each other, even to the point of excluding Hannah from a guys' conversation during a 4th of July picnic. This is good, because in a town this small, it would be hard for them to avoid each other.

Hannah's family also includes her sister Andrea (a "real estate professional"), Andrea's husband Bill (elected sheriff a few books in), their daughters Tracy and Bethany, plus people close enough to be family such as Lisa, Hannah's partner at the Cookie Jarp. Beyond that is a host of wonderful characters that make Lake Eden come alive and sound like a wonderful place to visit.

This is one of those mystery series where the mysteries themselves are not the most important thing; what keep me reading is the characters and their relationships (no, not just romantic relationships.) In such a small town, everyone knows everyone else; Joanne Fluke should be complimented on how she handles the murders, the victims, and the perpetrators. Many times, the victim is someone that has been encountered (or at least mentioned) in a previous book; the very first victim is someone that Hannah knew well, and her main reason for solving the crime is her need seek justice--not vengeance.

I have mentioned before that I am on Team Jacob in the Twilight series, and Team Simon in the Mortal Instruments series. Here, I am on Team Norman. He is not as good-looking or as exciting as Mike, but I believe he is a better in the long run. After all, Hannah's cat, Moishe, loves Norman where he merely likes Mike. I just don't like the way Mike treats Hannah; he's always objecting to her helping out with the investigation and urges her to "leave it to the professionals" without acknowledging that she and her team (including Norman) are many times able to learn things that the police can't.

One of the great things about listening to books is that you can multi-task. I find myself listening while walking, while cooking, and while doing laundry--times when I would otherwise have to put a book down. I have even taken to listening before bedtime--the danger is that I tend to fall asleep before turning off the MP3 player. Fortunately, it has a rechargeable battery.

The main disadvantage of listening to this series instead of reading the printed version is that there are wonderful recipes scattered throughout. It would be a lot easier to copy them from a page than to have to listen, pause, scribble, listen, pause, scribble. Yummy!

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