Title: Curses, Boiled Again!: A Lobster Shack Mystery by Shari Randall
Genre: Currently # 507 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy, Culinary, amateur sleuths
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: To be released January 30, 2018
Source: St. Martin’s Paperbacks and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Curses, Boiled Again! – Cute cozy mystery cover
Welcome to Mystic Bay and the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack where the proprietor, Aunt Gully, is a combination of your favorite aunt and feisty grandmother (my favorite character)–and her lobster rolls are to die for. Protagonist Allegra (Allie) Larkin has returned to this small New England hamlet to help Gully Fontana with the Memorial Day Lobster Roll contest and to rest an ankle now in a boot from a ballet dance injury. Her Aunt Gully recently opened her lobster shack to accolades with her lobster roll with secret sauce and was invited to participate in the contest covered by the YUM Food Network. Winning the contest would more than boost her little endeavor. Unfortunately, one of the four judges doesn’t make it alive to the next contestant.
As with most cozy mysteries, the plot moves carefully from the starting gate, introducing characters, the town, and the seaside tourist industry. Besides Allie and her Aunt Gully, her professional business sister, Lorelei (Lorel) has returned briefly to help with preparations and organization. No barnacles have a chance to grow on any theory, as with each new development there comes another. Easy to get a picture in your head of the scene if you’ve ever visited a seaside community that spirals down to the docks and the fresh fish restaurants. YUM, indeed! The Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack descriptions have you grabbing for a camera for the shots in your mind’s eye as the outside tables are filled with happy, lobster-engorged customers watching a red sun disappear behind the horizon of the calm waters of the Micasset River.
With the frenzy of the upcoming event, both increase in tourists, the holiday weekend, and the TV covered contest, little quirky happenings have been ignored or passed off as silly pranks. Then the judges get sick and one–an older lady famous in movies and dancing–succumbs. None of the locals, all with a connection, would suspect either Aunt Gully or Allie, but the state calls in a biggee and her eyes fall on those who would have opportunity and motive. Oops. Don’t you know Allie will have to solve it, boot on her healing ankle or not. (No, I was not been able to do any of the footwork Allie performs, with or without the boot.)
Allie is not wholly developed, which I assume as this is the first in the series, is being saved somewhat to divulge more backstory in series #2 (to be released late summer 2018). Allie is first person, and all we really know is that she is redheaded–natural, I guess. There is no romantic interest (thank you). Her sister is just background, while a couple of her friends are fun. Aunt Gully is totally sympathetic. Once the formalities are over the story goes to boil and turns up the heat. Dialogue is sweet and natural. Humorous names and situations, including the “Lobster Libbers” added fun and depth to a fictional salty-air setting.
Plot diversions thrown in here and there, characters made to look guilty–it certainly couldn’t be Gully! (That sweet little ole lady wouldn’t hurt a fly!) Yes, lots of clues to follow and I was flirting with who the true antagonist was going to be, but didn’t see that little twist coming at the end. Ohhh, that was a good one! And the climax? That was clever, off the boot stuff, and for the most part, it worked.
A little room to grow, but this is a good start. The only thing I really missed was the secret sauce recipe. (But I’m sure it’s coming!) I received this download from St. Martin’s Paperbacks and NetGalley for a read and review and greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity. Recommended for all cozy mystery fans, seaside story fans, foodie fans, and quirky mystery fans. Clean and fast read.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: (From Amazon Author page) A librarian and military wife, SHARI RANDALL lives in a mid-century money pit in Connecticut. When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course), Shari enjoys walking the beach near her house, traveling and eating the local cuisine, reading, and dancing. When she isn’t writing the Lobster Shack Mysteries, she is the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime. A native New Englander, Shari Randall loves hanging out with the gang at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in fictional Mystic Bay, Connecticut, where the lobster rolls are delicious, the company’s good, and murder’s always on the menu. ©2018 V Williams