I don’t know what it is about hot summer days that draw me towards made-for-TV movies. Maybe it has something to do with nostalgia and being reminded of being a kid, off from school and spending my days channel surfing. In any case, when the weather started getting warmer, I was immediately drawn to checking out some of the mystery movies produced by Hallmark.
I picked the “Murder, She Baked” series to check out first because I knew it was based on the Hannah Swensen book series by Joanne Fluke. I read the first book in the series (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder) about a year and a half ago, and I’m always curious to see how books get adapted into movies.
From what I remember of the book, the adaptation was fairly faithful. Both the books and the movies follow Hannah Swensen, a baker who owns a cafe/bakery in the small town of Eden Lake, Minnesota. She’s a down-to-earth sort of person, much to the chagrin of her mother, who wishes she would put more effort into being stylish. She has a younger sister who is married to the town Deputy, which comes in handy for when Hannah tries to get involved in solving local crimes. Hannah’s abilities to solve crimes in Eden Lake stem from her deep knowledge and awareness of the town residents.
In total, there were five movies made, with the earliest being produced in 2015 and the latest in 2017:
- A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery (2015)
- based on the first book: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
- A Plum Pudding Mystery (2015)
- based on the twelfth book: Plum Pudding Murder
- A Peach Cobbler Mystery (2016)
- based on the seventh book: Peach Cobbler Murder
- A Deadly Recipe (2016)
- based on the fifth book: Fudge Cupcake Murder
- Just Desserts (2017)
- based on the second book: Strawberry Shortcake Murder
Fans of the book series will likely enjoy these movies. And fans of these movies will likely enjoy the book series I’ve linked to above — especially if you’re a baker on the look out for new recipes to try since the books always include several! As of writing this post, there have been 28 Hannah Swensen Mystery books published. Below, I’ve included the covers to just the five that have been adapted into Hallmark movies.
Personally, from a mystery fan standpoint, I found these movies were a little too “romantic” for my tastes. There is a major subplot in these movies involving Hannah and two potential love interests: one the one hand there’s the new town dentist who just inherited his father’s practice; and on the other hand there’s the out-of-town detective who has been transferred to investigate the local murders. It’s not that I don’t like romance/Hallmark movies in general, it’s just that I found the focus in these movies steered too far into the romance and not enough into the mystery. Out of the five of them, I found the fourth one to be the most balanced between romance and mystery. However, all the movies were enjoyable nonetheless.
Where to watch Murder, She Baked:
- If you have access to the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel, you might find it airing there or be able to stream it via their website: https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/
- Some of the movies are available on DVD. In the US, the first three movies are available as a DVD set.
- It’s also possible to stream them via Amazon Prime Video. Here are the links to each of the movies:
- As of June 7th 2020, you might have some luck finding the movies on YouTube.