Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars
The Snowden Family Clambake Company has a beloved reputation in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. Almost as famous is the sleuthing ability of proprietor Julia Snowden, which is why an oyster farmer seeks her out when she’s in trouble.
When Andie Greatorex is robbed of two buckets of oyster seed worth $35,000, she wonders if somebody’s trying to mussel her out of business. Could it be a rival oyster farmer, a steamed former employee, or a snooty summer resident who objects to her unsightly oyster cages floating on the beautiful Damariscotta River? There’s also a lobsterman who’s worried the farm’s expanding lease will encroach on his territory and Andie’s ex-partner, who may come to regret their split. Before Julia can make much headway in the investigation, Andie turns up dead, stabbed by a shucking knife. Now it’s up to Julia to set a trap for a cold and clammy killer . . .
If I can’t be on the left coast for some sumptuous fresh and sweet crab and clams, I’ll tap into the latest novel in the Maine Clambake Mystery series by Barbara Ross and join her on the right coast for some of their world-renown seafood—including oysters and lobsters. YUM! The subject of Book 9. Maybe you aren’t currently an oyster fan, but by the end of this cozy culinary, you’ll be searching for the fastest route to the Damariscotta River and Busman’s Harbor, Maine.
The Snowden Family Clambake Company is gearing up for opening season, and Julie is responsible for finding appropriate seasonal staff when her boyfriend Chris asks her help for a poker buddy who was recently assaulted and her pails of oyster spat (baby oysters) stolen. Yes, it was reported to the police, but they are taking it as an assault and robbery and Andie knows it’s much more than that. First, Julia is a little put off that Chris has not been forthcoming regarding his “poker buddies” but on speaking with Andie, however, she sees a serious oyster farmer who has made for herself a respectable name and reputation as producing quality product.
Whether or not you’re interested in the farming of oysters, this is fascinating stuff and amazing how Ms. Ross weaves in information in Julia’s investigation to pique your interest not only in aquaculture but the history of the area and it’s evolution. And then there is the death of Andie (no accident there). Andie’s expansion plans may have spurred some backlash and there is some competition between the oyster and lobster farmers.
The author describes the area so beautifully, the fishermen so completely, the sights, sounds, and fragrant air plunks you into the middle of her scene. The well-developed characters make you wish you could sit at their table, reliving those fish stories or the best way to care for the upwellers.
In the meantime, the mystery is progressing through red herrings (chuckle) and twists, some too obvious not to be dismissed. Easy to have your own suspicions and the well-plotted and paced narrative progresses without repeated rehashing of salient suspicions.
I’ve had the opportunity of receiving two others in this series, Sealed Off and Stowed Away, both of which I enjoyed, and really these can be read as a standalone, but now I’m off to see if I can find an audiobook. These are atmospheric, engaging, and entertaining and I never come away without learning something.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. Releasing in February, this one is on pre-order now at your favorite retailer.
Genre: Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
- ASIN : B089N3KK89
Print Length: 189 pages
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at http://www.barbararossauthor.com
©2021 V Williams