Shucked Apart (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 9) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview – #cozyculinary mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe 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 . . .

My Review:

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.

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe 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.

Rosepoint Recommended

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Book Details:

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Barbara Ross - authorThe 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

Wine Tastings are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 5) by Libby Klein – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinIt’s vintage Poppy when the gluten-free baker and B&B owner tries to solve a murder at a Cape May winery in Libby Klein’s fifth deliciously witty, paleo-themed Poppy McAllister Mystery.

When Poppy and Aunt Ginny agreed to host a Wine and Cheese Happy Hour for a tour group at their Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast on the Jersey Shore, they never anticipated such a sour bunch. Grumpy guest Vince Baker should be in a better mood–he’s filthy rich and on his honeymoon with his much younger wife Sunny, who seems to dote on him almost as much as her high-spirited teacup Pomeranian, Tammy Faye Baker.

But the honeymoon is over when Vince drops dead the next day touring the Laughing Gull Winery. Turns out he’s been poisoned, and it seems like everybody on the tour is hiding something. Now Poppy has to put her gluten-free baking on the back burner and bottle up her feelings for the two men in her life while she charges after a bitter killer with a lethal case of sour grapes…

My Review:

Book 5 of the author’s special writing style and that outrageous sense of humor has us wondering if the dreaded triangle will finally be over. More on that later. I started on the series in 2018 with Book 3 and 2019 with Book 4.

“Miss Thing mooned a grin at Gia like he was the last piece of chocolate cake on a PMS cruise.”

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinIn this installment, protagonist Poppy McAllister will host a small happy hour of guests that will join a larger group tour of the Laughing Gull Winery, including a May-December couple, a couple on a “babymoon,” a single lady who arrives late, and a couple without reservations that apparently decided to follow the daughter’s powerful CEO daddy in the aforementioned marriage. Of course, those two ladies will clash from the beginning and continue throughout the narrative.

Poppy hosts her B&B along with her octogenarian Aunt Ginny who has obviously reverted—WAYYY back. She has a pack of cronies often referred to as “the biddies” that sets my teeth jangling every time I read it. Poppy has a kitty she calls Figaro who instantly takes a dislike to the pampered Pomeranian brought by the May side of the May-December marriage. In the meantime, her aunt is interviewing for a new chambermaid and hires Victoryna Rostyslavivna Yevtushenko—let’s go with Victoria. Victoria, it turns out has narcolepsy. Perhaps you are getting now that the narratives are loaded with unique and crisis-instigating support characters.

“He was stuck to him like the IRS on a small business.” (Boy, can we identify with THAT!)

Of course, there is a body, although it doesn’t occur until almost 28% into the novel. There are ample descriptions of cat-dog squabbles, broken china, stolen food. Red herrings are liberally scattered throughout. And the inevitable comparisons of the two men in the triangle, Gia or Tim, neither of whom I felt an appropriate match…the music swells…the dreaminess scenes begin…which one, which one? (I don’t care! Sorry, not sorry, I was over that in Book 3.)

By Book 5 you won’t have a lot of character development—lots of focus on food, most of which sounds delightful (and there are recipes at the back of the book). It’s fairly well paced, if not constantly interrupted, chaos, outrageous, slow to pull out the perp. The conclusion was somewhat a surprise—which was gratifying and not guessed correctly. And while it appears the eenie, meenie, minee, mo had been determined, the rug was then pulled out from under the reader. GEES! The obvious gotcha for Book 6. I’ll read it, NOT for the romance, but because the humor in the book is a hoot and I read it for the grins.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft & Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B085LTRQ3P

Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Libby Klein - authorThe Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

©2020 V Williams V Williams