Book Review: Clammed Up by Barbara Ross

Finding the Book

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Clammed Up by Barbara Ross was one of the MANY books in my lengthy list of Must Read books.  When I’m ready for a new stack of books, I scroll through this list, which I save as an Amazon Wish List, and pick out several.  I try to mix it up with the next in series I’m already reading along with some first books in a new-to-me series.  This is one of the latter – the first book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series.

Maine is one of those settings that I love for whatever reason.  I’ve never been to Maine, but I enjoy all stories set in this state and just know I’d love it if I visited!  I grew up watching the television series Murder, She Wrote with my grandmother, and I suspect that’s why I associate Maine with cozy mysteries.  (I still read the Murder, She Wrote book series, too, and watch the reruns of the show!)

About the Book

Julia Snowden’s family business, The Snowden Family Clambake, is in financial straits, and she’s back home in Busman’s Harbor, Maine to help get it back on stable ground.  After striking up a deal with the bank to get the loan caught up, the clambake’s season starts off on a slippery slope.  Julia has planned for summer storms and low crowds, but she couldn’t plan for murder!

With the family’s future of the clambake and their ancestral island threatened by foreclosure, Julia takes on a destination wedding to kick off the season.  Tensions run high in the wedding party on the boat ride from the mainland to Morrow Island, and it only gets worse when Julia opens the door to the historical home on the island to find the missing best man murdered.

The clambake is shut down during the investigation, and the bank is not understanding, so Julia takes matters into her own hands and pursues her own investigation with the desperate hope of reopening before the bank takes away the family business.

Throw in some family tension between Julia and her brother-in-law and add in a few secrets and an old crush, and you have a very enticing read!

I gave this book a 5 Star rating on Goodreads because I couldn’t put it down and was drawn into the story from beginning to end.  (Click here to follow me on Goodreads!)

From the Publisher:  Summer has come to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and tourists are lining up for a taste of authentic New England seafood, courtesy of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. But there’s something sinister on the boil this season. A killer has crashed a wedding party, adding mystery to the menu at the worst possible moment. . .

Julia Snowden returned to her hometown to rescue her family’s struggling clambake business–not to solve crimes. But that was before a catered wedding on picturesque Morrow Island turned into a reception for murder. When the best man’s corpse is found hanging from the grand staircase in the Snowden family mansion, Julia must put the chowder pot on the back burner and join the search for the killer. And with suspicion falling on her old crush, Chris Durand, the recipe for saving her business and salvaging her love life might be one and the same. . .

Includes Traditional Maine Clambake Recipes!

What I Love

I’m not sure why I find Maine to be a fascinating setting, especially since I’ve never been there, but I do!  The descriptions of the island and the mainland town were very well done.  I completely want to go on a trip and participate in the clambake!

I also enjoyed the characters – Julia, the old crush, Chris, and even the irritated/mad brother-in-law.  The dynamics in a family business must be hard to bear, and the conflict of the financial issue mixed with the murder was a fire bomb combination.  

The storyline was all-around well written.  Characters were developed, suspects filled the character list from the obvious to the surprising, and the reveal at the end of the book was worth the read to get there.  

I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series!  If you enjoy a coastal cozy mystery, then you should check out this series, too.

This is the first book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series, and book nine recently came out in February 2021.  Barbara Ross has another series I’m going to check out, the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries, which currently only has one book, and later this month (August 2021), her most recent Clambake Mystery is included in a set of three Halloween-themed stories that I have set up on pre-order…but am saving for October!!

See all the books by Barbara Ross and find her website, newsletter and social media to follow here.

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