Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.
When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.
I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.
But there’s more…
A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.
Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.
Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.
As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.
The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.
I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.
Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books
- ASIN: B07Q7X57MG
Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off
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. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.
[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog Murder, Yule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.
Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.
©2019 V Williams