Bakery owner Hannah Swensen just can’t keep her hands out of the batter when murder stirs things up in Lake Eden, Minnesota, leaving the sheriff dead, a deputy accused, and a killer on the loose…
For Hannah, life seems to be lacking a certain flavor lately. Maybe it’s the local sheriff’s election that’s got her down. For years, Sheriff Grant’s been the iron hand in town. But now, Hannah’s brother-in-law Bill is giving the old blowhard the fight of his long, dubious career—and Grant’s not taking it well, especially once the polls show Bill pulling ahead.
But before anyone can taste victory, things go sour. While Hannah’s emptying the trash, she makes a very unappetizing discovery: Sheriff Grant’s body in the Dumpster behind the high school where she’s teaching her cooking class. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the poor man still has fudge frosting on his shirt from one of her cupcakes.
The number one—and only—suspect is Bill, but Hannah’s not swallowing it. Plenty of people had reason to hate Sheriff Grant. Soon, Hannah’s dishing up scandalous secrets, steaming hot betrayals, and enough intrigue to keep the gossip mill at The Cookie Jar going through several pots of decaf. And the closer Hannah gets to the truth, the closer she gets to smoking out a murderer with a very nasty recipe for silencing people…
Includes Ten Original Dessert Recipes For You To Try!
“For fans of culinary mysteries.”—Library JournalChapter One
“Fudge Cupcake Murder should not be read on an empty stomach because there are mouth-watering recipes and descriptions of desserts in almost every chapter.”
—The Midwest Book Review
Hannah Swensen moved to the front of the rectangular
box and braced herself. Although she had no specialized training, she felt like a member of a bomb squad who
was preparing to disarm an explosive device. Taking a deep
breath for courage, Hannah reached forward and released
the catch that held the grate in place, jumping back to what
she hoped would be a safe distance.
"Good heavens!" Hannah gasped as Moishe shot out of
the veterinarian-approved small dog carrier and barreled into
the kitchen. She'd had no idea her feline roommate could
move that fast. He resembled an orange and white blur with
multiple feet, all of them moving at warp speed.
Hannah picked up the carrier and stashed it in the laundry
room cupboard. The one time she'd forgotten to put it away,
Moishe made inroads on the plastic, and it now looked as if
a miniature plow had been digging furrows in the top. At
least the plastic carrier had held up better than the cardboard
one she used the first time she took Moishe to the vet. By the
time she arrived, the cardboard was in shreds and Moishe
was out and prowling around in the back of her truck, yowling in outrage.
Pausing in the doorway, Hannah was relieved to hear a
loud crunching noise coming from the depths of the kitchen.
The early morning trip to the vet had been traumatic for both
of them and Moishe was attempting to forget the ordeal by
eating. It was a good thing she'd topped off his food bowl before they left the condo.
Hannah grabbed the bag of "senior" kitty crunchies her
vet had recommended and carried them to the kitchen. Doctor
Bob warned her that some cats rejected new food and he'd
handed her a handout of helpful tips that were supposed to
transform all cats into eager eaters of senior fare.
Moishe raised his head from his bowl to glare at Hannah
balefully. It was the same look one might give to a traitor or
an unfaithful spouse, and Hannah immediately felt guilty.
"Okay, I'm sorry. I know you hate to go to the vet,"
Hannah did her best to explain to a cat who'd never looked
more unforgiving. "You were due for your shots and I'm
only trying to keep you healthy."
Moishe stared at her for another long moment and then
turned back to his food bowl again. Hannah took advantage
of this temporary truce to pour a cup of coffee from the thermos she'd filled before they'd left. "I'll be right back," Hannah
said to the ears that stuck up over the rim of the food bowl.
The rest of Moishe's face was buried in its depths. "I have to
change clothes. You shed all over my new sweater."
Moishe didn't deign to reply and Hannah headed off toward the bedroom. Her resident feline always shed when he
was unhappy. It wasn't Doctor Bob. Moishe liked him as well
as a cat could like the man who gave him his shots and prodded him in undignified places. He just hated the process of traveling there.
Once Hannah had changed into clothing less hairy, she
came back to the kitchen to find Moishe sitting beside an
empty food bowl. Since there was no time like the present to
try out his new cuisine, Hannah dumped in the senior food
and crossed her fingers for luck. Leaving Moishe sniffing the
new food suspiciously, she slipped into the old bomber jacket
she'd found at Helping Hands, Lake Eden's thrift shop, and
headed for the door. But before Hannah could grab the battle-scarred shoulder bag purse that contained everything she might
need for the day and then some, the phone rang.
"Mother," Hannah muttered in the same tone she reserved
for the expletives she tried not to use around her five-year-old
niece, Tracey. It had to be her mother. Delores Swensen was a
genius at calling at precisely the moment that Hannah intended to step out the door. Sorely tempted to let the answering machine bail her out, Hannah thought better of it. Her
mother would only call again at an even more inconvenient
time. Giving a deep sigh, she retraced her steps and grabbed
the wall phone above the kitchen table.
"Hello, Mother," Hannah said, sinking down in a chair.
Conversations with Delores were seldom brief. But the voice
that answered her wasn't her mother's.
"I called the shop, but Lisa said you were coming in late
because you had to take Moishe to the vet."
"That's right," Hannah said, getting up to pour the last of
the coffee into her cup. It was her sister and conversations
with Andrea weren't exactly short either.
"There's nothing wrong, is there?" Andrea asked.
"Only with my ears. Moishe yowled all the way there and
all the way back. He's fine, Andrea. I just took him in for his
shots and his yearly checkup."
"That's good," Andrea said, sounding relieved. "I know
how crazy you are about him. Did you take one of Bill's
posters to the vet's office?"
"Yes. Sue was just putting it up in the window when I left."
"Oh, good. Every poster helps. Have you read the paper
Hannah glanced down at her purse. The Lake Eden
Journal, still in its heat-sealed plastic sleeve, was stuck in the
side pocket. "I'm bringing it to work with me. I thought I'd
read it when I take my break."
"Look at it now, Hannah. Turn to page three."
"Okay," Hannah agreed, proceeding to do just that. But
page three was the editorial section, where she didn't see anything that would account for Andrea's excitement.
"Do you see it?" Andrea asked, an I-know-something-
you-don't-know note in her voice.
"It's the election poll!"
Hannah bent over the paper for a closer look at the small
box Rod Metcalf had been running in the paper for the past
month. Then she let out a whoop of excitement. "Bill's running neck and neck with Sheriff Grant!"
"That's right! I told him we could do it! Of course the election's still two weeks away and anything can happen, but
wouldn't it be wonderful if Bill actually won?"
"Absolutely! You've done a wonderful job running his
"Thanks. I've got some other news, too."
"Doc Knight moved up my due date to the third week in
Hannah frowned. "Can he do that?"
"Sure. It's all guesswork, anyway. Everybody thinks they
can tell, but they can't. Bill's mother says she's sure the baby
will be born on election night, but I think she just wants to
take my place at Bill's victory party. Mother's holding out for
early December. She says I'm not as big as I was with Tracey
and it'll be a while yet. Then there's Bill. He thinks I'll have
the baby early, like before Halloween."
"When do you think it'll be?"
"On Thanksgiving Day, just as we're sitting down to dessert."
"How can you tell?" Hannah asked. "Is there some sort of
sixth sense that expectant mothers have?"