Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke


Wedding Cake Murder – Joanne Fluke (Kensington Books, 2016)

Set in Lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah Swensen, owner of The Cookie Jar, a sweets and coffee shop, is facing two momentous events in her life; her impending wedding to Ross Barton, one of three beaus who had been vying for her flour-covered hand, and a shot at the Food Channel's dessert chef contest. Her mother seems to have taken over the plans for the nuptials while Hannah wins the initial challenge in the desserts competition in New York City, which means that the second phase of the show will be taped in Lake Eden, her home community, which is a great thing for the close-knit village.

There are five judges who are coming to Lake Eden. First there is Jeremy Zales, winner of the Golden Knife award, LaVonna Brach, author of a popular series of cookbooks, Helene Stone, an authority on exotic spices, Christian Parker, host of his own show on the Food Channel, and Alain Duquesne, the Head Judge, who is a celebrity chef with a less than delicious personality. Hannah and her friends, including her sister, Michelle, who serves as her baking assistant, dig into learning about the food preferences of each of the judges in order to give them an edge in planning their award winning recipes.

Sign Up for E-News

What they learn about the overbearing Duquesne is that he is fond of the ladies, and seems to be particularly interested in one of the contestants, Gloria Berkeley. Hannah's first impression of Gloria is not complimentary, as Hannah confides in her sister that she hopes Gloria won't drop anything in the competition, “because if she did, and if she bent over to pick it up, their show might receive an X rating.” (p. 102)

And, Hannah's Aunt Nancy knows something interesting about Judge Alain's past. She reveals, “He was born less than five miles from my parents' farm, and I went to school with him. Of course his name wasn't Alain Duquesne then. He changed it when he became an important celebrity chef.” (p.28) Alain's real name is Allen Duke, the boy who ate butterscotch pudding daily for dessert. Alain Duquesne has recreated himself as do many successful celebrities.

The story heats up when the nasty celebrity chef is discovered chilling in the freezer at the Lake Eden Inn, where the contestants are preparing for the second intense round of competition. Amateur sleuth, Hannah Swenson, who sees herself as Minnesota's Nancy Drew, begins a personal investigation into the Lothario's demise.

Unfortunately, I am not a fan of soft core mysteries of the Agatha Christie ilk. For those of you who have been reading my column since its inception, you get that guts and gore punch my ticket. Give me a Cornwell, Reichs, or Bass any day. That being said, Wedding Cake Murder is weak on many counts other than being a soft mystery. The characters are wooden, one dimensional, and just not strong enough to make the reader care much. Likewise, the plot is thin, and quite frankly, who cares who killed Chef Duquesne?

Here's the big but coming . . . But . . . the author includes the most mouth-watering recipes, all of which are incorporated into the story. Now, that is not an innovative idea; it has been done by many writers (including Patricia Cornwell, whose Kay Scarpetta loves to cook the most delectable Italian dishes). However, the detail with which the recipes are explained in Wedding Cake Murder, from where to purchase the ingredients to the type of beater needed to get the right texture for a particular cookie recipe, are fun to read and will make the reader want to run off to the kitchen and whip up at batch of Chips Galore Whippersnapper, Butterscotch Sugar, or Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies.

So now that you have the caveat (not a great story), Joanne Fluke's Wedding Cake Murder is worth checking out for its innovative recipes. And there you have it for today.

I am now off to the kitchen to test Hannah Swenson's Lunchbox Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. I'll let you know what I think next time.

Bon appetite!






Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield


South Plainfield – John T. Felz, Jr., 71, passed away at his home on Thursday, June 14, ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

South Plainfield Special Athletes Have Great Showing in This Year's State Games

June 22, 2018

Tyler is one of many athletes from South Plainfield who competed in this year's State Games, held at the college of New Jersey. This was Tyler's third year competing, but the first year where Tyler won a gold medal in, in both the long jump and mini javelin. We are proud of all the athletes who represented South Plainfield and the coaching staff.

Community Happenings

Mayor, Council Proclaim 'Amateur Radio Week’ in the Borough of South Plainfield

June 22, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ- At a June 18 meeting, South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh and the Borough Council proclaimed June 17 through June 23 as ‘Amateur Radio Week’ and asked all residents to extend their appreciation and respect to the community’s  amateur radio operators.

South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) will be participating in the American Radio Relay ...

South Plainfield Elks Honor Students of the Month

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Tuesday, June 12, the South Plainfield Elks honored the winners of the Grant School Character Education Monthly Pillars.  The students and their families were treated to a pasta dinner cooked and served by the Elks Youth Activities Committee and the students were given Junior Citizen of the Month Certificates.

The winners were as follows: 

Caring – ...

Holy Savior Academy’s Championship Cheerleaders Seek Funds for New Equipment

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Holy Savior Academy Cheerleading Squad has kicked off a fundraiser to generate $5,500 for the purchase of much-needed equipment, such as new tumble mats, sound equipment, and more for the award-winning squad.

“The group of twelve girls range from 1st through 4th grades,” said parent Marybeth Parache, who is heading up efforts to raise funds.  ...

Wrestling Ring Presentation

June 20, 2018

The South Plainfield High School Wrestling Team,  who have earned the title of “Three Peat Champs”,  received their State rings on Sunday, June 10, 2018.  Presentation of the rings an plaques were given by SPHS Wrestling Coach Pavlack an assistant coaches.   Funding  for the rings were donated by the South Plainfield Wrestling Club,  who has been one of ...

Inclusive Playground Ribbon Cutting Tonight - June 20

Nixle Alert - Official ribbon cutting at 6:30 om tonight to open inclusive playground at Willow Park.  All are invited to attend, A special storytime will follow.

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Giving Back


Sat, June 23, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

SPARC Reaching Out


Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Weinberg, Diegnan Bill to Establish University-Based Consortium on Media Innovation Advances

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan that would establish a state university-based consortium to advance research in the field of media and technology was passed from the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“The state’s traditional newspaper market has been upended by changes in ...

South Plainfield and SP BOE Working Together to Strengthen School Security

South Plainfield, NJ - On Monday evening the Borough Council hired two new police officers. These hiring’s will allow two additional police officers to be stationed at South Plainfield Public Schools and will supplement the already strong security measures enacted by the Board of Education and the South Plainfield Police.

The hired officers are part of an interlocal agreement ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...


The South Plainfield Public Library will be open this Sunday, June 24 from 1:30 PM – 5 PM.  This is the last Sunday the library will be open until September.  During July and August, the library will be closed on Sundays, but the rest of the hours during the week will remain the same.

Come join us Monday, June 25 at 6:30 PM for Monday Night Movies.  The selection this week ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Ends Its Year with a Big Banquet

Our country has a long and rich history of service clubs contributing to the growth of their communities but there have been signs in the past two decades that interest in these groups is waning.  Not so at Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield.  Thanks to the efforts of Membership Chair Grace Bertucci, this past year seven new members joined this relatively small group of ...

Press Releases


June 22, 2018


The Borough of South Plainfield has issued the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club(SPARC) a Proclamation at Borough Hall, on June 18,2018 at 7 PM.

The Proclamation is honoring the annual ARRL Amateur Radio Week, June 18th through June 24th and the amateur radio operators nationwide for their public service to the ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...