Monday, July 20, 2020

Book Review: Clammed Up (Maine Clambake Mystery #1) by Barbara Ross

Clammed Up (A Maine Clambake Mystery, #1)
Clammed Up (Maine Clambake Mystery #1)
Author:  Barbara Ross
Publisher:  Kensington (2013)
378 pages
Genre:  Cozy Mystery

First Lines:  "She hadn't seemed like a Bridezilla.  Not in the least.  Most brides who would celebrate their wedding with a clambake on an island in Maine were pretty relaxed."

Summary:  Julia Snowden has returned to her home in Maine.  Her family owns and operates the Snowden Family Clambake business.  Earlier this spring Julia's sister Livvie called Julia in a panic asking her to please come back and help the family business stay afloat.  Julia, along with her brother-in-law Sonny, have been attempting to get it up and running for the season.  Julia has been working as a venture capitalist in New York, while Sonny has been running the business.  Along with restructuring the loan, Julia came up with some ways to increase business, one of which is holding wedding clambakes on the island.  This is the first clambake of the season and the first wedding to be held on the island.  

The first load to go over is the wedding party so that they can get ready for the ceremony.  But, the best man is late.  After waiting for some time, it is decided that the groom will stay back and wait for the best man and the rest of the party should head over to the island.  Once on the island, Julia is escorting the ladies to the old mansion on the property that will serve as dressing rooms for them.  However, when the front door is opened, Julia and the bride are faced with the terrifying sight of the best man hanging from the banister.  Unfortunately, there will be no wedding today.  And the police tell Julia she will be unable to run her clambake until further notice.  The problem is if they are closed for too long they won't be able to make the payments on the bank loan and the bank will pull the loan.  Was Ray's death a murder?  Who would want to kill him and why?  Will Julia be able to solve the mystery in time to save the business?

My thoughts:  This was a complicated mystery with many suspects.  I appreciated the way Julia worked with the police and let them do their job.  That didn't stop her from investigating on her own or asking the police questions, however.  But she did expect that they would do their job and solve the mystery.

It took me a while to warm up to Julia and the other characters.  It seemed that there was a lot of yelling between Julia and her brother-in-law.  However, as the story progresses this is worked out and overcome and I was glad to see that.  Julia feels out of her element because she has been away in New York City for several years.  Sonny has some resentment toward her because of this and that she hasn't been around to help the family with the business.  And he doesn't particularly like that she is stepping back in now.  Julia feels strange living in her mother's home again at the age of 30, but she expects this to be temporary, so getting her own place doesn't make sense.  Julia longs for a friend outside of her family.  She has taken to having lunch at Gus' s restaurant several times a week when she knows Chris Durand will be there.  Julia has had a crush on Chris since junior high school.  They both enjoy their lunches together now.  

I found it interesting to learn about clambakes and the life of a local on the coast of Maine.  After several twists and turns, things are all wrapped up neatly by the end.  I enjoyed this visit to Maine and look forward to the next book in the series.

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