Steamed Open by Barbara Ross
If you’re looking for a entertaining cozy to while away a few lazy hours on your beach towel or on your favorite chaise lounge, look no further than Steamed Open, A Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross.
Ms. Ross sure knows how to spin an endearing cozy taking place in the small town of Busman’s Harbor. The series centers around Julia Snowden and her family. The Snowdens have only four months a year to make a living by providing an authentic Maine clambake for flocks of out-of-towners. Julia’s boyfriend, Chris, runs their tour boat, the Jacquie II. He picks up anxious tourists on the pier and shuttles them over to Morrow Island for the freshest, juiciest clams around.
It can be brutally hard work and long hours for everyone involved, but it’s a way of life they’ve all come to know and love. The book opens with the local townsfolk congregating on the Jacquie II to say good-bye to wealthy Lou Herrickson who passed away at age 101. Her last wish was to have her friends gather on the Jacquie II, ride out to sea and then spread her ashes over the beautiful water.
When Lou’s grandnephew and heir, Bartholomew Frick, holds up the boat by showing up late, no one is impressed – not even by his flashy red Porsche. Geez, talk about getting a jump on spending that family inheritance!
Mr. Frick also wastes no time putting up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion – blocking access to the beach for tourists as well as the local clamors who depend on the income. It’s also cutting off the Snowden’s family clam supply for their clambakes.
Its summer — the living should be easy. But thanks to Mr. Frick, there’s plenty of hostility to go around – and murder by clam rake certainly isn’t a sunny sight! Julia has a nose for mystery and can’t ignore the situation – especially with the beach access at stake.
She’s following a winding trail of suspects including disowned relatives, long-lost relatives and even some of the locals.
Julia’s putting the pieces together like a huge jigsaw puzzle, starting with the edges then working her way toward the middle until the whole puzzle picture is complete. The only problem with that is — it can get a gal killed – and that’s just not on her summer agenda!
Ms. Ross’ characters are always vividly portrayed and perfectly executed. She has me believing there really is a Snowden Family hosting yearly clambakes up there in Maine – and I “want in!” I’m bummed that there’s no way I can ever enjoy their luscious coastal clambakes, but at least Ms. Ross did provide some easy recipes in the back of her book. Bring on the clam dip, clam potato casserole and more of this delicious series!
When I pick up a book or short story written by Barbara Ross, I know it’s going to be a winner – and this one is no exception. Fun and summery with a salty touch of murder, makes Steamed Open a perfect cozy summer read. And don’t forget to check out her other delightful cozy series: Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody.
Available online and in bookstores.