Chocolate Cream Pie Murder

Joanne Fluke. Kensington, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1886-0

In bestseller Fluke’s subpar 24th mystery featuring Lake Eden, Minn., baker Hannah Swensen (after 2018’s Christmas Cake Murder), Hannah stands before her church’s congregation and tearfully confesses that her marriage to Ross Barton has been a sham. Since Ross’s recent departure from Lake Eden, Hannah has learned that he’s already married. Hannah later hears from Ross when he demands money that he left in her bank account and claims his life depends on coming up with the cash. Meanwhile, Mayor Bascomb suddenly decides Lake Eden should host a film festival, though it’s the middle of winter and there’s hardly any time to prepare. In an irrelevant subplot, budding actress Lynne Larchmont comes to town and confides to her friend Hannah that her husband, Tom, wants a divorce, but she’s hoping to work things out. A murder eventually occurs, but the vast majority of the action is either eating or baking, with recipes taking up much of the book. This one’s strictly for series fans who will appreciate the many unexplained references to past incidents and people. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Mar.)
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