BY SEAN CLARK

[JABBIC is back for the summer.]

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Been a while, friends. In case you forgot, JABBIC is kind of like Balderdash with book covers. Based only on the cover at right, three of our contributors made up a one-paragraph premise for this week’s festive contestant, Gingerbread Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke–coming out in October 2011. Can you pick out the book’s real plot? (The answer will be posted in the comments later today.)

1. The idea for this cheery holiday whodunnit reportedly arose from a particularly salacious incident involving … well, we’re not at liberty to say, but you can be sure that he won’t be hearing the end of it! Gingerbread Cookie Murder, in classic Miss Marple style, features a spritely lady detective who stumbles into a kitchen caper at a Christmas party. Hijinks abound! Kidnapped carolers, battles over fiercely guarded family recipes, and an oven fire due to an untended Goose all provide for a veritable feast of holiday entertainment with a side of clever investigating. A final word of warning: the recipe for Bourbon Balls provided by the three leading ladies of mystery is quite tasty, but a tad heavy-handed.

2. Dylan Schafer is the only fifth grader at Beech Hill Elementary who still believes in Santa Claus. Around the holidays, Dylan is the subject of constant ridicule. But this year, he has a plan to stop the taunting once and for all: He’s going to catch Santa… by poisoning his cookies. Dylan’s devious plot and its consequences will have you laughing, crying, and shaking your head.

3. A woman is found dead in her kitchen, naked except for the apron she was strangled with. All the police have to go on is a single bite mark left behind by the killer on a Christmas cookie. Heading the case is rookie detective and young mother Christina Jessop. As the evidence eludes her, the holidays bear down fast. Christina must provide for the Yuletide delights (and needs) of her family, while across town a mourning family rests their hopes on her detective work. Full of mystery, suspense and heartwarming moments (and a few yummy recipes from food.com’s Levine and Meier), Fluke’s third novel is a holiday caper treat.

4. Fluke, Levine, and Meier each offer a yuletide whodunit treat in this entertaining follow-up to 2007’s Candy Cane Murder. In Fluke’s wry “Gingerbread Cookie Murder,” Hannah Swensen of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minn., wants her neighbor Ernie Kusak to simply lower the volume on his too loud Christmas outdoor display, but she soon discovers Ernie with his head bashed in. In Levine’s hilarious “The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies,” Jaine Austen’s holiday stay at her parents’ home in the Tampa Vistas retirement community is enlivened by the murder of elderly lothario Dr. Preston McCay, whose neck gets broken during his star turn in an amateur play called The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Rounding out the volume is Meier’s less cheery but poignant “Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots,” about Maine reporter Lucy Stone’s investigation of a four-year-old boy’s disappearance. Recipes enhance two of the selections.

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