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Cinnamon Roll Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes!

Joanne Fluke

ISBN 9780758234933
Publish Date 2/28/2012
Format Paperback
Categories Kensington, Cozy, Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen Mystery
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With the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band heading toward Lake Eden for the Weekend Jazz Festival, Hannah Swensen is more than happy to bake up a generous supply of their namesake confections. But tragedy strikes when the band’s tour bus overturns on its way into town. Among those injured is Buddy Neiman, the band’s beloved keyboard player. At first, Buddy’s injuries appear minor, until his condition suddenly takes a turn for the worse—as in dead. Hannah’s no doctor, but she suspects that the surgical scissors jutting out of Buddy’s chest may have something to do with it.

Turns out Buddy Neiman isn’t the victim’s real name. In fact, no one is really sure who he is, or what secrets may be lurking in his past. Hannah isn’t sure just how she’ll unravel this mystery, but there’s nothing sweeter than bringing a killer to justice…

“Joanne Fluke is the doyenne of deadly desserts with her deliciously popular Hannah Swensen series.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.” —Booklist

Chapter One

“The only problem with leaving four car lengths in front of you is that four cars come in to fill up the space!” Hannah Swensen complained to her sister Michelle, who was riding in the passenger seat of her cookie truck. “I’m going forty. Do you think that’s too slow?”

“Absolutely not. It’s nasty out there, and anybody who drives faster than forty on a night like this is crazy.”

“Or they come from other states and they don’t know anything about winter driving in Minnesota. I think I’ll pull over as far as I can and let that whole herd of cars behind me pass.”

“Good idea.”

Hannah signaled and moved over as far as she could to encourage the other drivers to pass her. They probably thought she was being too cautious, but a thin film of water glistened on the asphalt surface of the highway, and the temperature was dropping fast. The water would turn into slick ice in a matter of minutes and there was no way Hannah wanted to sail off into the ditch and land in the mud that was just beginning to refreeze from the afternoon thaw.

Some people said that Minnesota had two seasons; Shovel and Swat. Hannah knew that wasn’t the case. The land of the frozen north had four seasons—Fishing Season, Duck Season, Deer Season, and Mud Season. This was the first Thurs day in April and Lake Eden was having the worst Mud Season on record. In the past three days, Earl Flensburg had used his Winnetka County tow truck to pull eighteen vehicles out of the muddy ditches. This number included Hannah’s cookie truck. Twice.

The current road conditions had been brought about by an extremely snowy winter that had yielded a record number of inches. Then, just last week, the days had turned warm with temperatures approaching a positively balmy fifty degrees. This unseasonably warm snap had melted the banks of hard- packed snow that lined the sides of the roads and had turned the shoulders into mud pits. To compound the problem the nights, like tonight, were cold enough to refreeze the water from the afternoon runoff, but the mud in the ditches took much longer to refreeze. Hapless motorists on the highways skidded on the icy film. If they were lucky, they simply ended up in the ditch in need of a tow truck. If they were unlucky, they sideswiped several other cars, resulting in multiple injuries. Warnings about the hazardous road conditions filled the KCOW-TV evening news, but some drivers seemed perfectly oblivious. Until the weather evened out, one way or the other, accidents on the highway would continue to be more common than lost mittens.

Hannah gripped the wheel tightly. Road conditions would improve once they turned onto the gravel road that led to the Lake Eden Inn, but they still had over five miles to go on asphalt that resembled nothing so much as an improperly frozen hockey rink.

The two sisters rode in silence for several minutes and then Hannah glanced over at her sister. There was a smile on Michelle’s face and Hannah assumed that she was thinking about Lonnie Murphy, the youngest member of the Winnetka County Sheriff’s Department detective squad. They were on their way to meet Lonnie and his cousin, Devin, at the Lake Eden Inn. There they’d enjoy a preview of Sally and Dick Laughlin’s first-ever weekend jazz festival by listening to the headliner band, the Cinnamon Roll Six, rehearse for their performance the following night. When the rehearsal was over, the Swensen sisters would help Sally serve Hannah’s Special Cinnamon Rolls to the small crowd that had been invited to the musical sneak-peek.

The cinnamon rolls smelled wonderful and Hannah’s stomach growled. She hadn’t taken time for lunch, and she did her best to resist an almost overwhelming urge to reach in the back and snag one for herself. Only the fact that she had to keep both hands on the wheel kept her from indulging that urge. They’d taken the sweet treats out of the oven at The Cookie Jar less than thirty minutes ago, frosted them, and covered the pans with foil. Then they’d secured them in the back of the cookie truck and headed for the highway. Now the interior was filled with the mouthwatering scents of warm bread, cinnamon, and chocolate, and Hannah was getting more ravenous by the minute.

Michelle gave a wistful sigh. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. Those rolls smell scrumptious.”

“I was thinking the same thing myself. Maybe we should . . . uh-oh!” Hannah stopped speaking abruptly as brake lights began to flash on the roadway ahead. “Holy . . . !”

“Cow!” Michelle supplied, finishing the phrase with a much more socially acceptable word than the one that Hannah had been about to utter. “What’s going on up there?”

“I don’t know, but it looks like trouble. And we’re not sticking around to find out!” That said, Hannah reacted almost instantaneously as she wrenched the wheel, pumped the brakes, steered out of a skid, and managed to fishtail onto the curvy access road that led to the Winnetka County rest stop.

Hannah barreled past a speed limit sign that warned motorists to slow to fifteen miles an hour. She knew she was going much faster than that, but she didn’t take her eyes off the road to check as she muscled her truck around the icy curves. When she reached the straightaway that ran past the rest stop, she skidded on a patch of ice and came very close to crashing into the faded Minnesota state map with the red YOU ARE HERE arrow pointing to Lake Eden. Still going well over the posted speed limit, her truck whizzed past the metal picnic table and barely missed wiping out on the corner of the concrete block restrooms.

They were deep in the pine forest now and the ice and snow lay in patches on the road. Hannah, the taller of the two sisters, felt her hair graze the top of the truck. For the first time in her life, she was grateful for the masses of curly red hair that cushioned her head. She was seriously wondering how much more swerving and skidding her truck could take before it shook apart, when they hit a pile of snow that slowed them, and the cookie truck came to rest scant inches from the massive trunk of a magnificent Norway pine.

“We made it,” Hannah said in a shaky voice, stating the obvious.

“We did. I really don’t know how you managed to get us here in one piece.”

“Neither do I.” Hannah realized that she’d been holding her breath and she took a deep gulp of air. And then, because she felt decidedly lightheaded, she lowered the window for a breath of fresh cold air.

Michelle did the same and then she turned to give her sister an unsteady smile. “That could have been bad, but you turned off just in time, and we . . .” Michelle stopped short and leaned closer to the open window. She listened for a moment, and then she frowned. “What’s that?”

“More trouble,” Hannah answered, listening to sounds of metal striking metal with considerable force. “It’s a good thing we got off the highway when we did. It sounds like a really bad accident.”

“More than one accident. It’s a chain reaction. They’re still crashing over there and it must be a massive pileup. Do you think we should go back and try to help?”

“Yes, but first we need to call the sheriff’s station. Do you have your cell phone?”

“Right here.” Michelle pulled it out of her pocket. “What do you want me to say?”

“Tell them it’s a multi-vehicle accident and to come out here right away. There are bound to be injuries, so they should put in a call for ambulances. Tell the dispatcher to alert Doc Knight at the hospital so he can set up to receive the accident victims.”

“Got it,” Michelle said, pressing numbers on her phone.

“I’m going to try to get turned around and drive up there.”

“Okay. It’s ringing now. I’ll tell the dispatcher what’s happening.”

As Michelle began to relay the information to the sheriff’s station, Hannah turned the truck around. This took several minutes as the road was narrow, and they couldn’t be of much help if they wound up stuck in the ditch. Her window was still down and she realized that the squeal of brakes and loud crashes had stopped. With the exception of a car horn that had stuck, the night was eerily silent. And then, just as she was about to pull out onto the access road that paralleled the highway, sirens wailed in the distance. Help was coming, and from the sounds of the breaking glass and impacts they’d heard only seconds before, it wasn’t a moment too soon.

Hannah and Michelle traveled forward on the access road, grateful that they weren’t in the path of the approaching emergency vehicles. They spotted three squad cars, two ambulances, and the Lake Eden fire truck. All had sirens wailing and lights flashing as they approached the accident scene.

“It’s bad,” Michelle said, as they got close enough to see the twisted wreckage.

“I know. Look up there on the left about fifty feet ahead.

There’s a bus upside down in the ditch. And there’s so much wreckage spread out on the road, I don’t think the emergency vehicles can get to it.”

“You’re right. They’ll have to hike in and it’s a ways. Let’s get as close as we can on the access road and walk in through the ditch. I took a class in first aid and maybe I can do something to help. At least we can try to get the bus doors open so the passengers can get out.”

Hannah drove forward until she was adjacent to the overturned bus. Then both sisters got out of Hannah’s cookie truck and hurried down the steep, tree-lined bank.

“Careful,” Hannah warned. “It could be muddy at the bottom of the ditch.”

Michelle reached the bottom first and turned back. “It’s still frozen. It must be because it doesn’t get any sun with all these trees.”

The snow was deep at the bottom of the ditch and the two sisters waded through it with some difficulty. Then they started up the steep bank on the other side and made their way toward the overturned bus.

“I don’t hear anything,” Michelle said as they got closer to the bus. “Maybe everyone inside is okay and they’re just waiting for someone to come and help them get out.”

Or maybe everyone inside is unconscious or dead, Hannah thought, but she didn’t say it. That was speculation on her part, and there was no sense in upsetting Michelle until they were able to get inside the bus and assess the situation for themselves.

“It looks like a charter bus,” Michelle commented as they got closer. “There aren’t any regular busses painted gold. I wish I could read what it says on the side, but the letters are upside down and backwards.”

“It’s the band bus.”

“What band?”

“The Cinnamon Roll Six.”

“How do you know that?”

“It says Cinnamon Roll Six on the side.”

Michelle was silent for a moment, trying to make out the letters. “You could be right. Can you actually read it, or are you just guessing?”

“I can read it. I taught myself to read backwards and upside down when you and Andrea were kids and I was helping you with your homework.”

“But why did you have to learn to read upside down and backwards?”

“It was easier than getting up and walking around to read over your shoulders.” Hannah reached out to grab Michelle’s arm. “Careful of that pine branch. The bus snapped it off and it’s sticking up like a spear.”

Another twenty feet and they had arrived at the back of the bus. It was wedged between two trees and it had obviously rammed into a third, even larger tree. From the wide swath the bus had cut through the spirea and gooseberry bushes, it had obviously rolled over and slid on its top to the place where it was now lodged.

“We can’t get in the passenger door,” Michelle said, walking around the bus. “It’s blocked by those tree branches. Don’t most charter busses have an escape hatch cut into the top?”

“Yes, but the top of the bus is now the bottom, and it’s buried in several feet of snow. We’ll have to get in through the back door. Come on, Michelle. Let’s go.”

Both sisters headed around the bus, lifting pine branches as they went. When they arrived at the rear, Hannah attempted to open the door. “I can’t get it open,” she reported, stepping back with a disappointed sigh. “The handle won’t budge.”

“It must be locked from the inside.”

“You’re right. Let’s see if anybody inside can hear us.”

“Hello?” Michelle called out. “Are you okay in there?”

They waited a moment or two, but there was no answer. Hannah stepped closer and yelled as loudly as she could.

“We need someone to open the back door. Can anyone get there to unlock it?”

The only sounds they heard were the distant sirens of emergency vehicles speeding to the accident site, and the wind whistling through the pines. Inside the locked bus, all was ominously silent.

About Joanne Fluke:

Joanne Fluke is theNew York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, Cinnamon Roll Murder, and the book that started it all, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. That first installment in the series premiered as Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in Southern California. Please visit her online at

Average Customer Review

Based on 5 reviews

Customer Review

Cinnamon Roll (Wednesday, July 31, 2013)
Reviewer: Avidreader4fun

Hannah is not very happy. Norman is still engaged to Dr. Bev, and now they have actually picked a date for the wedding! Of course Norman doesn’t love Bev, but he is an honourable man. Hannah tries to be a good friend, but she really misses spending time with Norman. Bev even tries to keep him away from his beloved cat, Cuddles, claiming she is allergic to cats.

Hannah and her younger sister Michelle are on their way to the Lake Eden Inn with some fresh baked Cinnamon Rolls, when a major accident happens on the road. Witnessing the pile up, Hannah and Michelle walk back to the accident. The bus full of the members of the Jazz Band Cinnamon Roll Six, which will be headlining the coming Weekend Jazz Festival in town. Once inside, everyone is allright, except the keyboard player who has a sprained wrist and the driver, who is dead, and hanging gristly upside down still in his seatbelt behind the wheel.

While in the hospital to get his wrist splinted, the keyboard player ends up dead. Hannah decides she has to try to figure out whodunit. Meanwhile, her mom and sisters have convinced Hannah that she has to quit being so nice all the time, and fight for Norman if she wants him and stop the marriage.

All in all, this is a series I thoroughly enjoy. I like all the main characters, the cozy setting, the cold Minnesota town and weather, and of course the murder plots. I highly recommend it to all lovers of foody cozy mysteries.

A Delicious Mouthful of Mystery! (Friday, March 30, 2012)
Reviewer: Amy Lignor

This is number fifteen in this incredibly entertaining series by Joanne Fluke and, very possibly, one of the absolute best. Spring is in the air in Lake Eden, Minnesota, which doesn’t seem to be a big deal as it’s still cold. The only difference is, instead of snow and ice - which still shows up after the sun goes down - everything in the sunshine is covered in mud and, which the natives say is normal considering that: “Minnesota has two seasons: Shovel and Swat.” Or, as our heroine, Hannah Swensen, likes to say, the land of the North has four seasons like everyone else: “Fishing, Duck, Deer and Mud.” When Hannah and her sisters (J) and Mom, find out that The Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band will be the main attraction at the Weekend Jazz Festival at the Lake Eden Inn, they offer to go out to the Inn with a truck full of baked goods and get a preview of the weekend’s festivities. As they’re on their way, they hear the sound of crashing cars and discover that the Cinnamon Roll Six’s tour bus has had an accident on the icy roads on the way to the Inn. Hannah, and her sister, Michelle, walk through the woods to the stricken bus to find that most everyone is okay, escaping with just some bumps and bruises. All except for Buddy, the keyboard player, who has a broken wrist, and the driver of the bus - who apparently had a heart attack and died at the wheel. After the medical personnel get everyone to the hospital, it seems that the driver was the only fatality. This doesn’t remain the truth, however, when Hannah’s mom discovers Buddy in the X-Ray room with a pair of scissors sticking out of his chest.
Of course, Hannah and her family go on the hunt for the culprit and find out that most of the band have something in their past that they’re hiding. No one seems to know who’s who in this little town anymore, yet Hannah is determined to solve the case. This tale is more than a bit complicated for Hannah and family, and even more suspenseful than the others in the series. Yet, as always, there are some stellar recipes included that will make your mouth water, and fans of this author will not be disappointed! Until Next Time, Everybody - Amy!

Sweet Murder! (Wednesday, February 29, 2012)
Reviewer: CPadgett

I’ve heard lots of praise for Joanne Fluke and her Hannah Swenson culinary mysteries. I received an Advanced Reader Copy from Kensington Books for review purposes and I dove in with great anticipation.

Hannah Swenson and her sister help an injured jazz band when their tour bus is in an accident. Hannah feels responsible to investigate when one of the musicians is later murdered at the hospital. She’s also being prodded by her family and friends to break up her former boyfriend’s upcoming wedding to a scheming and evil usurper of his affections.

Both plots overlap in a convincing way. The mystery isn’t all that complex but the red herrings are laid out fairly and nicely interspersed with the real clues. One of the deaths is pretty much ignored after it’s determined that it could have been an accident. I would have liked a bit more resolution there. Was he murdered or not?

The book is as much cookbook/recipe book as it is mystery.

The recipes look delicious and they are written so that even the most novice of cooks can follow the directions easily.

Since this is a series and I hadn’t read any of the previous books, I did have a bit of problem sorting out all the characters. I also found some of the characters to be behaving a bit illogically, but I’m willing to say that if I knew them better, it might make more sense.

I understand that in the cozy genre, more latitude is given to activities such as cooking, knitting, or gardening, but I often found myself wanting to skim the parts where Hannah and her partner or her sister would discuss what they were going to bake next and whether they had enough flour on hand for a full batch or something and then listing the utensils they would need. That got a bit tedious and could have tightened up the scene if it had been streamlined.

Overall, I recommend Cinnamon Roll Murder and I look forward to reading another.


I received a free copy of Cinnamon Roll Murder for review purposes but it did not influence my review.

Who killed him and why? (Monday, February 13, 2012)
Reviewer: Book Faerie

Hannah Swensen is going to lose Norman if she doesn't fight for what she wants...

This character has her own series, but this is the first book I've read about her. She's an enjoyable character!

This is very interesting twisted tale with interconnections that aren't obvious. Ms. Fluke's characters are a tight family of Mom and girls that are willing to work together to help solve mysteries. The mystery this time is why a musician in the hospital for a bus accident injury was knifed to death. There is seeming no connection with the people in their small town and a transient band member. But someone killed him...

I especially enjoyed the interplay between the girls and Mom. Everyone is very independent, very opinionated and they are all passionate about chocolate. Chocolate will comfort you when you're upset, stimulate your brain for thinking, and it just tastes good generally.

It's a good mystery with lots of intrigue, Hannah's love interest, and lots of recipes to make your mouth drool. You can even make the goodies to enhance your future reading sessions. What more could you want?

Happy reading.

“A Spicy Mix of Scandal and Murder You’ll Devour” (Monday, January 30, 2012)
Reviewer: Nancy Narma

“Mud Season’ has arrived in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Hannah and her younger Sister, Michelle, are enroute with a delicious-smelling delivery of Cinnamon Rolls for the Lake Eden Inn. Innkeepers; Sally and Dick are sponsoring the first Weekend Jazz Festival featuring the well-known “Cinnamon Roll Six”. Hannah’s yummy rolls will be served after the group’s rehearsal. With the unseasonably warm weather during the day, the accumulated snow has melted and frozen on the roadways, creating black ice and extremely hazardous driving. As much as Hannah’s trusty truck is good on Lake Eden’s snowy roads, it is no match for the ice, so after fish-tailing and watching a sea of red brake lights appear on the horizon, Hannah avoids a collision and swerves onto an access road. Others were not so lucky and when Hannah and Michelle trudge through the snow to offer assistance, they discover the tour bus of the “Cinnamon Roll Six” on its roof in a snow-packed ditch. They manage to enter through the rear door and assess any injuries. They find the bus driver is dead and Keyboardist, Buddy Neiman has a possible broken wrist. Hannah and Michelle tend to the shaken group and accompany them to the hospital. Everything goes like clockwork until the slightly injured Buddy Neiman is discovered stabbed to death by none other than Hannah’s Mother, Delores. Delores has been “assisting” Doc Knight as well as becoming leader of the Hospital Auxiliary’s ”Rainbow Ladies”. Who would want to murder Buddy Neiman?? The Band’s groupies; Lynnette and Cammy? Ex-girlfriend Shelby?? Or maybe keyboardist wanna-be, young Devin Murphy?? Was Clayton the bus driver’s death due to a heart attack or foul play?? Does Hannah have two (2) murders to set her already boggled mind to spinning? Luckily, Michelle, Andrea and Delores join the investigation as Hannah receives the one article of mail she has been dreading..Norman and Doctor Bev’s wedding invitation!! She agonizes over whether she should attend or not—and her feelings are raw. After all, she and Norman are still friends. Obligation is one thing—Love is something else. What part does the snowflake bracelet play in this crime? I have to say this is one of, if not the best, Lake Eden volume to date. Fellow Hannah-ites, you will love, love, love the twists and twirls Ms. Fluke has “rolled” between its covers as well as the D-licious recipes including “Tapioca Pie”, “Piggy Chicken” and very special “Peaches and Cream Cookies”. Re-arrange your bookshelf and don’t miss out on this winner!! You won’t be disappointed!!
Kensington ARC –Nancy Narma

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