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Fluke, Joanne 1943–

Fluke, Joanne 1943–

(John Fischer, R.J. Fischer, a joint pseudonym, Jo Gibson, Chris Hunter, Gina Jackson, Kathryn Kirkwood)

PERSONAL:

Born 1943, in MN; married to a television writer; children: five. Education: Degree in clinical psychology. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, target shooting, cooking, painting, and hosting murder mystery parties for friends.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Southern CA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Has also worked as a counselor with adults and young adults.

MEMBER:

Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Authors' Guild.

WRITINGS:

ADULT NOVELS

The Stepchild, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

The Other Child, Dell (New York, NY), 1983.

Winter Chill, Dell (New York, NY), 1984.

Cold Judgment, Dell (New York, NY), 1985.

Vengeance Is Mine, Dell (New York, NY), 1986.

(As John Fischer) High Stakes, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(As John Fischer) Station Break, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Video Kill, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Final Appeal, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Dead Giveaway, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Fatal Identity, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Deadly Memories, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1995.

(As Chris Hunter) Eyes, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.

(As Gina Jackson) Caitlyn's Cowboy (romance), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(As Gina Jackson) Cookies and Kisses (romance), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2000.

"HANNAH SWENSON" MYSTERIES

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2000.

The Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2001.

Blueberry Muffin Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2002.

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2003.

Fudge Cupcake Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.

Sugar Cookie Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.

Peach Cobbler Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2005.

Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Kensington (New York, NY), 2006.

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS; UNDER NAME JO GIBSON

The Dead Girl, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Crush, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1994.

The Crush II, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Slay Bells, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1994.

My Bloody Valentine, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Seance, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Wicked, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Dance of Death, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

ROMANCES; UNDER PSEUDONYM KATHRYN KIRKWOOD

A Match for Melissa, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1998.

A Season for Samantha, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.

A Husband for Holly, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.

A Valentine for Vanessa, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2000.

COAUTHOR, WITH HUSBAND; HUMOR; WRITTEN UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM R.J. FISCHER

Baby's Guide to Raising Mom, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1997.

Doggy Do's (and Don'ts), Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1997.

Where Would I Be without You, Mom?, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1998.

OTHER

Contributor to Winter Kittens, Zebra (New York, NY), 1999, and A Match for Mother, Zebra (New York, NY), 1999.

Also contributor, as Joanne Fluke, to the anthology Sugar and Spice, Zebra (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Joanne Fluke has written suspense novels, mysteries, humorous nonfiction, and romances, under her own name and several pseudonyms. She has also written for young adults. Fluke once told CA: "I enjoy writing for young adults. I dislike novels that ‘talk down’ to teenagers and are over-simplified. I believe that teenagers and adults share common motivations, fears, and dreams. I also believe that any reader, regardless of age, enjoys a carefully plotted, intriguing story."

Typical of her adult suspense fiction is Wicked, published under the pseudonym Jo Gibson. In this novel, author Eve Carrington and her boyfriend, an aspiring writer, attend an elite authors' workshop together. There, Eve becomes entangled in a strange and dangerous rivalry with another writer, Angela Adams. Eve is also threatened by a psychotic killer in the novel a Library Journal contributor called "involving, fast-paced, and appropriately chilling."

Fluke creates a more homespun style of mystery with The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, published under her own name and the first book in the "Hannah Swenson" series of mysteries. In this book readers meet Hannah, a cookie entrepreneur who sets up shop in her Minnesota hometown after her father's death. The Cookie Jar, Swenson's café, becomes a popular spot. After a truck driver is found shot to death behind her shop, Hannah helps her brother-in-law, a deputy sheriff, track down the killer. The plot is "satisfyingly packed with plot twists and red herrings," in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly reviewer, and by the time it concludes, readers have also learned several delicious new cookie recipes. "This mystery is pleasant and easy to take," commented Rex E. Klett for Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called it "a modestly entertaining debut with some delectable recipes as a bonus." The Publishers Weekly contributor also noted: "The Pecan Chews recipe is especially recommended."

In the sequel, The Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Hannah acts as a judge in a televised baking contest. The murder of one of the other judges—a known wife beater—disrupts the proceedings, and once again Hannah investigates. Rex Klett, writing in Library Journal, called The Strawberry Shortcake Murder "a comfortable, cozy read." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Add the ingredients of a cleverly crafted mystery and a realistic portrayal of smalltown life, and you have a superior cozy sure to leave readers satisfied … but hungry for more."

Blueberry Muffin Murder finds Hannah supplying cookies for the Lake Eden Winter Carnival when a popular television cooking host named Connie MacIntyre, who treats her staff and others badly, is murdered via blunt trauma to the head. When Hannah's friend, Janie Burkholtz, who worked for Connie, becomes a prime suspect, Hannah decides to find the real killer, despite being warned off the case by detective Mike Kingston, who is also one of Hannah's love interests. A KirkusReviews contributor noted that Hannah puts "herself in peril repeatedly as she breaks into hotel rooms, steals keys, [and] pays after-hours visits to deserted shopping malls." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "a vivid picture of the small lake town and a well-crafted mystery provide the ingredients for yet another tempting feast that should satisfy all fans."

Hannah investigates the murder of flirtatious Rhonda Scharf in Lemon Meringue Pie Murder. Rhonda had inherited the Voelker property from her aunt and her body is found in the house's basement. With the rare blessing to investigate from her boyfriend, detective Kingston, Hannah enlists the help of her other boyfriend, Norman Rhoades, to solve the case. "As always, the whodunit pales before the larger question: Will Norman or Mike, or possibly both of them, pop the question," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author also provides "enticing recipes for cookies and other treats."

When the body of Lake Eden's sheriff turns up in the dumpster, Hannah is on the case in the mystery Fudge Cupcake Murder. Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, referred to the mystery as "dependable entertainment." Sugar Cookie Murder features Hannah investigating who murdered Martin Dubinski's wife of two days during a Christmas party. The former Las Vegas show girl is murdered with a cake cutter belonging to Hannah's mother. "Hannah still proves she's smarter than Mike [Kingston] gives her credit for," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the "wacky and delightful characters."

Peach Cobbler Murder begins with Shawna Lee, a rival of Hannah's for detective Mike Kingston's affection, opening a bakery that competes successfully with Hannah's own store. When Shawna is murdered, Hannah avoids being a prime suspect because she is at church attending her business partner's wedding along with most of the other residents of Lake Eden. However, Mike Kingston was not at the wedding. When Mike becomes a potential suspect, Hannah begins an investigation. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Peach Cobbler Murder Fluke's "tastiest [mystery] yet."

In Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Hannah remains single, despite two marriage proposals, one from detective Mike Kingston and the other from dentist Norman Rhoades, made to her in Peach Cobbler Murder. When an old college friend, Ross Barton, comes to town as a Hollywood producer, he enlists much of Hannah's family, including her mother, sister, and niece, for the film project. Tragedy strikes, however, when the film's director, Dean Lawrence, appears to accidentally shoot himself while instructing the movie's leading man in how to use a prop pistol, all of which is caught on film. Hannah, however, is suspicious and her investigation turns up foul play. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "lavishes … attention on the mechanics of location shooting."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2001, Jenny McLarin, review of The Strawberry Shortcake Murder, p. 1118.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2000, review of The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, p. 339; January 1, 2002, review of Blueberry Muffin Murder, p. 19; February 1, 2003, review of Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, p. 186; August 1, 2004, review of Sugar Cookie Murder, p. 716; February 15, 2005, review of Peach Cobbler Murder, p. 200; January 15, 2006, review of Cherry Cheesecake Murder, p. 63.

Library Journal, August, 1996, review of Wicked, p. 60; April 1, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, p. 135; March 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of The Strawberry Shortcake Murder, p. 133; March 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Blueberry Muffin Murder, p. 144; March 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Fudge Cupcake Murder, p. 112; November 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Sugar Cookie Murder, p. 60; March 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Peach Cobbler Murder, p. 71.

Locus, December, 1993, review of The Dead Girl, p. 52.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000, review of The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, p. 56; April 3, 2000, review of The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, p. 65; January 29, 2001, review of The Strawberry Shortcake Mystery, p. 68; February 4, 2002, review of Blueberry Muffin Murder, p. 56; January 13, 2003, review of Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, p. 44; September 6, 2004, review of Sugar Cookie Murder, p. 49; September 4, 2006, review of Sugar and Spice, p. 39.

Science Fiction Chronicle, June, 1994, review of The Crush, p. 39.

ONLINE

Hannah Swensen Mysteries Home Page,http://www.murdershebaked.com (March 7, 2007).

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