The Murder, She Baked Series
Hallmark Murders and Mysteries has created a popular TV-film series called Murder, She Baked based on the bestselling cozy mystery books by author Joanne Fluke.
The first of the books, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, was published in 2000, and became a quick hit thanks to lovable characters, memorable plot twists, the author’s hilarious take on small-town Midwestern life, and recipes. Yes, seriously. Every book in the series features recipes from Fluke’s own collection for delicious treats such as Chocolate Mint Softies, Fudge-aroons, and Pecan Chews.
The star of the series is Hannah Swensen, a smart, independent woman who runs a bakery and coffee shop that serves as a social hub in the town of Eden Lake, Minnesota. The rest of the cast includes a mother who just wants her daughter to get married; an entitled, know-it-all sister; and a sweet cat named Moishe.
The books offer the perfect escape for an afternoon. Or two. Or three. So far there 29 titles in the series (a few are novellas) with sweet (literally) titles such as Banana Cream Pie Murder, “Blueberry Muffin Murder,” and “Apple Turnover Murder.”
A delicious beginning
In a 2016 interview with Publishers Weekly, Fluke said she started writing at a young age.
“When I was in second grade my mother read to me every night,” she says. “There was one particular book—and I can’t remember its title—where for several weeks she read me a chapter each night, until the book was over. When she asked me if I’d enjoyed it, I said, ‘I didn’t like the ending.’ So she told me to write a new one. It took three months, but I did it. When my mother read it she said, ‘Oh, Joey—I like yours so much better.’ And that was it. I started writing.”
She also developed a love of baking from her mother and grandmother.
“In the winter they baked every single day to warm up the kitchen,” she said, “and my bedroom was just above the kitchen. I’d wake up to the aroma of cinnamon and chocolate; those wonderful baking smells came through the heating vent in my room.”
Fluke features 25 recipes in each Hannah Swensen book. She says she has shoe boxes filled with recipes at home.
Hallmark Movies and Mysteries adapted the first book into a film in 2015, calling it Murder, She Baked: Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery. The film starred Days of Our Lives alum Alison Sweeney as Swensen; Barbara Niven as her mother, Delores; and Cameron Mathison as detective Mike Kingston.
A hit series
It was followed a few months later by Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. Two more films followed in 2016. Murder, She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery, debuted in January. Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe debuted in June. Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts premiered on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries in March 2017.
In May 2021, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries announced that a new film, Murder, She Baked: Cream Puff Murder would be released over the summer. The name of the film was changed to Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery and a release date was set for August 8.
Author Joanne Fluke maintains a great website: joannefluke.com.
Which Hannah Swensen mystery is your favorite?