Clammed Up


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!

"A tasty whodunnit with a real Maine twist." --Sarah Graves, author of A Bat in the Belfry


For fans of:  Sarah Graves

When Julia Snowden's sister calls to tell her that the family clambake business is serious financial trouble, Julia drops everything and moves back to Busman's Harbor, Maine to try and help; if the bank demands payment on their loan now, they'll lose not only the company, but her mother's house and the island on which they hold their clambakes, as well. Julia manages to convince the bank to give them the summer to get their accounts in order, but the Snowdens are going to have work their tails off if they want to get back into the black.

The first event of the season is a wedding, which should be a happy and profitable way to kick things off. Then, though, the best man is found dead before the festivities can even begin, and everything goes to hell. The police won't let the clambakes resume until they make some headway with their case, but the Snowdens can't afford to stay closed for more than a few days.  Panicked and desperate, Julia launches her own investigation into the murder. Can she catch a criminal before her family loses everything?

Clammed Up is the first of Barbara Ross' new Maine Clambake Mysteries. The stakes are high and deeply personal, giving Julia great motivation to start sleuthing. The setup is clever, and the family-run clambake premise seems perfectly suited to carrying a series. Ross' mystery is complex; just when you think you've got it all figured out, she introduces a new piece of information that changes everything. And her narrative style is incredibly engaging, which makes for a compulsively readable tale; I devoured all 350-plus pages in a single afternoon.

Ross completely nails the look, feel, and attitude of small-town Maine – and coming from a curmudgeonly native like myself, that's high praise, indeed. The dialogue is pitch-perfect. Julia's a strong, smart, winsome heroine for whom you can't help but root. And Ross' supporting cast could have stepped straight off the coast and onto the page; in fact, there are a few (restaurant-owner Gus, in particular) that I wish would do the reverse, as I suspect my world would be a happier and more entertaining place for it.

Reviewed by Kat