Steamed Open
Steamed Open

Steamed Open

by Barbara Ross

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496717948
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 12/18/2018
Series: Maine Clambake Series , #7
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 13,406
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is co-editor/co-publisher of Level Best Books, which produces anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. She writes at her home overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Readers can visit her website at MaineClambakeMysteries.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I glanced at my phone to catch the time. If our tour boat, the Jacquie II, didn't leave the town pier soon, we'd never be back in time to take the lunch customers to Morrow Island for our authentic Maine clambake.

Under normal circumstances, we never took the boat out before the first group of the day. But today we were fulfilling a mission we couldn't refuse. Three weeks earlier, immediately before Heloise (Lou) Herrickson had passed away at the age of a hundred and one, she'd given her housekeeper an exacting set of instructions written in her spidery cursive hand. One of them had been for her ashes to be consigned to the sea from the Jacquie II, because it was the only tour boat in the harbor large enough to hold all her friends.

And friends she had. As I searched through the colorful crowd (no one wearing black, as she'd instructed), I was astonished by how many of Busman's Harbor's citizens had taken a morning during August, the busiest month of the year, to say good-bye to Lou. We had on board, literally, a butcher, a baker, and three candlestick makers. (Every resort town has at least one candle shop.) Plus, hairdressers, manicurists, handymen, gardeners, artists, and enough wait staff, bartenders, and musicians to throw a ball. There were more than a hundred people.

My family was well represented by my mom, my sister, her husband, and me. My boyfriend Chris was there, too. It was a rare opportunity for us to be together during daylight hours in peak tourist season. On the coast of Maine, we had four short months to make our money and that meant Chris and I spent fifteen hours a day on the job, or in his case, jobs. I leaned back against him, my small body fitting perfectly against his rangy, muscular one. He put an arm around my shoulder and squeezed. He wasn't much for public displays of affection, so I treasured his reassurance. I was happy to be outside on a beautiful summer day, which was exactly what Lou would have wanted.

As I looked around the boat, I knew almost everyone. There were a few people I didn't — a couple in matching sweatshirts emblazoned with the silhouette of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, and a woman in her seventies with leathery skin that bespoke years of tanning — but they were rare exceptions.

Everyone who should have been on the boat was there, happily chatting as we waited at the Busman's Harbor town pier. Everyone except Lou's grandnephew and heir. As the big engine of the Jacquie II idled, passengers looked over toward the dock, waiting, waiting.

There was more than a little curiosity about Bartholomew Frick around town. Lou's home on Herrickson Point was a local landmark, a huge shingle-style pile overlooking a beach and her privately owned lighthouse. The land and buildings had been in Lou's late husband's family for generations. Everyone wanted to meet the man who was going to inherit.

Through the back window of the pilothouse, Captain George mouthed, "What's up?" I shrugged, the universal symbol for "dunno," then pointed to an imaginary watch on my wrist and held up five fingers. We'd wait five more minutes for Bartholomew Frick and then leave whether he was on board or not. Lou had been a wonderful, generous woman. How could her only heir be late for her final journey?

From the pier came the sound of a powerful motor and the sight of tourists scattering for cover. A red convertible Porsche squealed to a stop in front of the Jacquie II. A man in his mid-forties jumped out. He was medium-height, had a thick head of brown hair and wore khakis, a white tailored shirt, a blue blazer, no tie and no socks. I took all this in as he ran toward the boat.

I made my way through the crowd muttering "excuse me, excuse me," to the mourners as I passed. The man and I arrived at top of the gangway at the same moment.

"Mr. Frick? I'm sorry. You can't park there." He kept his head down so he could pretend not to see me and tried to dodge around me. I stepped into his path.

From behind me, Chris whispered, "You need help?"

I was grateful for the offer. "No, thanks. I've got this.

"Mr. Frick, I'm Julia Snowden. I own this boat." (A slight inaccuracy. My mother did, but I was in charge of this particular journey.) "You can't park on the town pier. The space you're in is for loading and unloading passengers only." He'd passed about a dozen signs telling him so as he'd made his way from Main Street to the pier.

He pulled his head up and looked me in the face for the first time. "I'm sorry. What did you say?"

I repeated myself, slowly and clearly.

"Where am I to put my car?" he demanded. "Every parking space in town is taken."

Ah, tourist season. The locals on the Jacquie II had known parking would be a problem. Many had walked, or arrived in plenty of time to find a space. Others had even (shudder) parked in one of the paid lots, regarded as the ultimate sacrifice. They'd done it because they loved Lou Herrickson.

I could have directed her grandnephew to one of those paid lots, but the nearest one was blocks away and there was no guarantee it would have any spots left open. So instead, I said, "You can park in my mother's driveway. It's just up the street. Forty-three Main."

He grunted, then hesitated. I thought he might argue and at that point I would have let him leave the car on the pier where it would certainly be towed. Finally, he acquiesced. "Wait for me."

I told him we'd wait five minutes.

I turned and saw Chris. He'd taken a few steps back and stood with arms crossed over his chest, in his bouncer pose, making sure everything was okay. I smiled at him and then went to tell Captain George the new plan. He fussed and fumed about being late to pick up the first shift of clambake guests who would be waiting when we got back. "You can do it," I encouraged him. "For Lou."

"For Lou," he repeated. I knew there were few people, living or dead, for whom he would have agreed.

To his credit, Frick did keep a move on. He came pelting up the gangway with seconds to spare. As he jumped onto the boat, Captain George called to the kids who worked the lines. They let us loose and we powered away from the pier.

* * *

We pulled back to the pier an hour and fifteen minutes later. As Captain George had predicted, there was already a long line of smiling, excited tourists with tickets for the luncheon seating at the Snowden Family Clambake. The mourners filed off the Jacquie II quickly. It had been a rare social occasion for them, one full of laughter and a few tears as friends had taken turns reminiscing about their encounters with the indomitable Heloise Herrickson, but they had businesses to attend to.

Bartholomew Frick rushed off with the rest of them, not acknowledging the other guests, his great-aunt's friends and neighbors. During the memorial, Frick had been tight-lipped, declining to speak about his great- aunt, or even to take a handful of her ashes to cast into the sea.

I didn't have time to wonder about his behavior as he hurried off the pier. I had my hands full. My sister Livvie and her husband Sonny left the Jacquie II and jumped into our Boston Whaler, which was also tied up at the pier. Sonny was our bake master, overseeing the tower of hot rocks that cooked the lobsters, clams, corn, onions, potatoes, and eggs we served to the guests. Livvie ran the kitchen that put out the clam chowder along with the blueberry grunt we served for dessert.

I gave my sister a hug as she ran by. "It was good of you to come," I said. It had taken meticulous planning to have our employees cover both the clambake fire and the kitchen, as well as care for my ten-year-old niece and six-month-old nephew. Fortunately, it was the best time of year for it. By mid-August the clambake team was experienced, running at its peak, and we hadn't yet started losing the college students and out-of-state teachers whose jobs seemed to start earlier every year.

Chris lingered until all the mourners were off the boat and before the lunch customers boarded. Given his feelings about public displays of affection, he surprised me by giving me a quick kiss and whispering, "I love you," in my ear.

I kissed him back. "Love you, too. See you tonight."

"I'll be late," he said.

"I know."

Once the lunch guests were on board, we pulled back into the harbor. Captain George narrated the tour. As we passed the harbor islands, he pointed out the seals sunning themselves, the bald eagle perched in an evergreen, and the osprey's nest on the rocky outcropping beside Dinkum's Light. Only someone who'd been on the trip as often as I had would have noticed that he'd shortened it by ten minutes or so, making up the time lost to the memorial.

As the Jacquie II left the warm embrace of Busman's Harbor and entered the Gulf of Maine, guests shrugged into sweatshirts or windbreakers. I offered blankets to those who, back when they were in the August heat on the mainland, hadn't read or believed our advice to bring something warm to wear on the water.

Ten minutes later, just as the little ones on board were getting antsy, Morrow Island appeared ahead. As we drew closer to the long dock, the features of the island came into focus, the little house where Livvie and Sonny and their kids lived in the summer on one side of the dock, and the clambake fire on a long, flat expanse on the other. On the island's first plateau was the dining pavilion that housed about half our tables, plus the gift shop, bar, and our tiny kitchen. Along the flat green space once called the great lawn were the volleyball nets and bocce courts for the guests. At the highest point on the island was the partially burned ruin of my ancestors' mansion, Windsholme. A year after the fire, plans to restore it were underway. But our guests couldn't see that. All they could see were the boarded up windows and roof, and the ugly orange hazard fence that surrounded her.

I moved to starboard to help the crew tie the lines and to be the first one on the dock in order to greet our guests. They came off the boat, taking in the rugged island and the smells of salt water, evergreens, and wood smoke. Le Roi, the island's Maine coon cat, ran to greet them. Maine coons have many doglike qualities, greeting people being only one, but in Le Roi's case I suspected a larger agenda. If he charmed our patrons now, they'd be more apt to slip him a piece of lobster or a clam as he lingered under their tables.

The guests spread out, some to the bar, some to play games, some to find the perfect table, perhaps in a grove overlooking the ocean. The more ambitious hiked up to Windsholme or all the way to the beach on the other side of the island. I watched them go, but only for a second, and then ran up the walk to the dining pavilion. Showtime!

* * *

The height of the season and the late start for the boat combined to create a busy lunch seating. I moved among the guests, showing this one how to use the crackers to open the lobster's claws, and that one how to dredge the steamers in the clam juice before eating them. I was tired by the time we waved the customers off at the dock and happy to sit down to our family meal while the Jacquie II returned to the harbor and picked up the next group.

Family meal was my favorite part of the day. In the quiet time between the lunch and dinner rushes, all our employees sat down together to enjoy our own food. Livvie and her crew in the kitchen whipped up something inexpensive and hearty to fill up people who had done the tough, physical work to ensure that our customers had a marvelous time. Often, we took advantage of our pipeline to fresh, local seafood. Today, the cooks presented us with linguini with clam sauce and an enormous summer salad. The food and cold drinks were on the bar, buffet style. The clam sauce smelled briny and fresh, like the ocean. I helped myself and found a spot at one of the two long tables in the dining pavilion where we all ate.

The table was already occupied by Quentin Tupper and Wyatt Jayne. Neither of them were Snowden Family Clambake employees, though they both had business on the island. Quentin was our investor, the silent partner who'd rescued the clambake from certain bankruptcy the year before. He was a burly man, dressed as he was every day in the summer, in a blue cotton dress shirt, khaki shorts and boat shoes.

Wyatt was the architect he'd recommended to oversee the renovation of Windsholme. She looked pretty and professional in a colorful summer shift, every long, shiny brunette hair in place, despite having arrived on the island in Quentin's sailboat. By coincidence, she and I had gone to prep school together fifteen years earlier. That hadn't gotten us off to a good start. Our history had been rocky, but we were past that now. Wyatt was on the island to work on the plans for the renovation. Quentin was along to "help out."

Mom sat next to me and dug into her meal. She closed her eyes and sighed. "So good." She was blonde and petite. People said I looked like her.

"The best, Mrs. S," Mary Carey said. "Livvie sure can cook." Mary taught third grade at Busman's Harbor Elementary, and had supplemented her income by waitressing at the clambake every summer for years.

Mom smiled. "I'm lucky that way."

"How was Mrs. H's memorial? I wanted to go but —" Mary had come to work instead.

"She was the loveliest person," Leila Caspari said. She sat to the right of her best friend Mary, like always.

"Such a character," Livvie said. "The wigs! A different crazy style and color for every day of the week." As she'd entered her nineties, Heloise had dealt with her thinning hair by adopting the wildest set of wigs any of us had ever seen.

All other conversation ceased. Everyone at the long table was listening.

"You know, she went to Kim's Beauty Salon every week for years," someone said. "When she went to the wigs, she didn't want Kim to lose out on the income, so she sent a wig over to her once a week to be styled. She told Kim to be as creative as she wanted."

"And Kim was." Mom smiled, remembering.

"Those wigs came from a really expensive store in Boston," Leila told us. "When I had my cancer, Lou sent me there. She called ahead and told them to give me whichever one I wanted and she'd pay for it."

Everyone was quiet. We all remembered Leila's cancer.

"She didn't even know me," Leila continued. "My uncle used to plow her driveway. He was so worried she'd fall, he'd shovel her steps and her walk right down to the concrete. She'd come out to chat while he worked, all bundled up. One time she asked him why he looked so worried and he told her I was sick. That was all it took."

"She was like that," Mary agreed.

"Yes, always," Mom said.

There was another moment of silence as people thought about all Heloise Herrickson had done. She'd given generously to the institutions summer people supported — the Botanical Garden, the Historical Society, and her special passion, the Art League. But there'd also been many small acts of personal charity, like Leila's wig. More than any of us knew.

"And the memorial?" Mary asked.

"It was lovely, absolutely lovely," Mom said. "Exactly as she would have wanted." I noticed Mom didn't mention that Bartholomew Frick, the only relative and heir, had been late, and rude, and hadn't spoken about his great aunt. Or talked to anyone for that matter.

But that didn't mean he wasn't the immediate focus of the conversation. "I wonder if he'll keep that old mansion?" Mary said.

"And will he keep Mrs. Fischer?" Leila asked. Ida Fischer had been Lou Herrickson's housekeeper forever. I'd noticed that she and Bartholomew Frick hadn't greeted each other or spoken while on the boat. Ida had huddled with her good friends, our neighbors, the Snugg sisters, and Frick had kept to himself.

"What mansion?" Wyatt asked, eyes bright.

"Herrickson House," my mother answered. "It's a huge old thing overlooking Sea Glass Beach. Quentin can sail you by it. It's always reminded me a little of Windsholme. Same era, I think and I've heard maybe even the same architect. It's been in Francis Herrickson's family for generations. No one thought Lou would like it there. She's from Philadelphia originally and met Frank when she lived in Palm Beach. But she adopted the house and the town as if they were her own. She loved that old place."

"The grandnephew will probably sell it to a developer who'll tear it down and build ten houses for summer people," my brother-in-law Sonny said. "Lotta land there. All with sea views. Has to be worth a fortune."

"Maybe the land's protected because of Herrickson Point Light?" Leila suggested. "I think it has some kind of historical designation."

"Frank Herrickson's great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper," Mom told Wyatt. "That's why they bought the land. And then, when the U.S. government declared the lighthouse excess, they bought it, too."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Steamed Open"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Barbara Ross.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Steamed Open 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
ConR 11 days ago
This is the first book I have read by this author. I heard about her and the book through the Maine Crime Writers group on Facebook. I will definitely be following her work. This is #7 in a series but aside from the history between characters and a few events that were alluded to, there was no problem for me in keeping up with the story. I found plenty of action, intrigue, and interesting bits and pieces that kept me interested to the end.
KrisAnderson_TAR 16 days ago
Steamed Open by Barbara Ross has readers journeying to Busman’s Harbor, Maine in the height of tourist season in the month of August. Julia Snowden is on the Jacquie II with the rest of the town for Heloise (Lou) Herrickson’s memorial service and to scatter her ashes. Lou’s heir, Bartholomew Frick arrives at the last minute is a fancy new red Porsche. Bart inherited Herrickson Point along with a privately owned lighthouse. The next day, everyone is shocked when they arrive at the beach access road to find a newly installed gate. The clammers and lighthouse enthusiasts are particularly upset by this afront. Since Snowden Family Clambake relies on the clams that the clammers find on that beach, Julia decides to visit Bart Frick and see if she can get him to change his mind (maybe he is not aware of the problem he has caused). Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with the rude man and Julia soon departs. When Julia returns to the pier that evening, she is greeted by the local police. Bart was found stabbed in his home with a clam rake and Julia was one of the last people to see him alive (besides the killer, of course). When Lou’s former housekeeper, Ida Fischer ends up at the top of the suspect list, the Snugg sisters ask Julia to don her investigator’s cap once again (not that Julia needs an excuse). Bart may not have been in town long, but he quickly managed to anger a significant number of people. Julia wades through the suspect pool to identify Bart’s killer while manages the clambake business and discovering what is bothering her boyfriend, Chris. Steamed Open is the seventh A Maine Clambake Mystery. It can be read alone if you have not read any of the previous books in the series. I enjoyed Barbara Ross’ conversational writing style. It makes for a light, airy cozy mystery that is easy to read. We get to experience the day-to-day running of the Snowden Family Clambake with Julia and her family. It is interesting to learn more about Maine and the clamming industry. I enjoy the descriptions of the area especially the beautiful home the Snowden’s own on their island. The mystery is uncomplicated, and the killer is easily identified (might as well have been a giant neon sign over the persons head flashing “killer”). There are several viable suspects including a couple determined to visit as many lighthouses as they can (they are not going to let a gate stop them). I am glad that we learned more about Julia’s boyfriend, Chris in Steamed Open. His story is heartbreaking. I did find his obsession with Vanessa a little odd despite the explanation. I hope that Chris will be more open to talking about the future with Julia now (he really needs to get counseling). There is repetition of information that I could have done without and lack of details about characters (i.e.—Chris’ last name, Livvie’s last name). Steamed Open is an upbeat cozy mystery that will have you yearning for warm days and sandy beaches with a cool drink nearby.
WisReader 20 days ago
Steamed Open is a complicated mystery flavored with layers of history and complex family relationships. You can read this as a stand alone novel, but will find yourself wanting to know more about the main family, the quirky year round residents, and the fire that destroyed Windsholme, the mansion on Morrow Island. Dive in, knowing you will surface satisfied. While there may be stories of ghosts circulating around lighthouses, someone very real and very angry murdered the mysterious heir to Herrickson House. Bart Frick had not been in the community long before he many many enemies. The search for his killer and for a new heir to this magnificent, yet odd, property will reveal deep secrets. Another secret, one very close and personal to our heroine, Julia, is also tangled up in the plot. She has been very patient with her live in boyfriend, but now his behavior borders on creepy. Can she save this relationship? Will her question asking put her own life in danger? If this is the first book you have read in this series, or the seventh, you will not be disappointed or walk away hungry.
LisaKsBooksReviews 23 days ago
Everyone knows when I get a cozy mystery in my hands, leave me alone until I come up for air. The day I read STEAMED OPEN, the book didn’t leave my hands. It went everywhere in the house with me (Yes. Everywhere. TMI I know). Seriously, I couldn’t stop reading until I had finished. I wouldn’t say book seven in the Maine Clambake Mysteries was lucky number 7 for author Barbara Ross. Luck had nothing to do with it. Brilliant writing and knowing what readers will love had everything to do with it! Besides having wonderful characters that feel like family, food that will make your stomach growl (Thanks for the recipes at the end of the book, Ms. Ross!), and a setting that makes you wish you were there, STEAMED OPEN is a fabulous mystery that will have you guessing, like it did me, until the end. It also gets my vote for most creative murder weapon. If you’re looking to do something nice for someone, or yourself, get a copy of STEAMED OPEN!
Anonymous 28 days ago
Julia and crew do it again. From the family clambake to finding a murderer. It's all good. Worth the read!
Anonymous 29 days ago
With maturing story telling prowess, the author gives us the best view of the Maine seaside life. We enjoy the same main characters but in richer depth. Great read. I’m ready for the next one!
Carstairs38 3 months ago
Lou Herrickson, a beloved member of the Busman's Harbor community, has recently died. Lou has left everything to her late husband's grandnephew, Bart Frick. That includes the mansion where she lived and the lighthouse and beach connected to it. Lou had always left the beach open to the public, but the first thing Bart does is fence off the beach. The locals who make a living by clamming are the first to discover this when they arrive to start their morning of work, and that's when Julia Snowden becomes concerned. Her family uses clams harvested from this beach in the Snowden Family clambake. Hoping to resolve things faster than a court challenge will allow, Julia goes to talk to Bart the next morning only to find him closed to reopening the beach. A few hours later, Bart is dead. The suspects range from those impacted to by closing of the beach to any potential heirs to a couple obsessed with lighthouses. Can Julia help find the killer? I absolutely love this series, and this is another excellent entry. The mystery is strong with several competing suspects and motives to keep us from seeing the truth until Julia figures it out. A couple of sub-plots carry over from the previous book, and I liked how they were woven into the main mystery. No, you don't have to have read the previous book to understand what happens here, but it certainly helps. The characters are strong, with layers to them that unfold as the book progresses. This makes the characters introduced here more complex than in many of the series I read, and I love them more for it. We also learned a bit more about a series regular here, and I loved that added insight. There are four recipes for you to enjoy once you've finished the book, two featuring clams and two baked goods.
Dollycas 3 months ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts Busman’s Harbor, Maine is in an uproar as Bartholomew Frick shuts down Sea Glass Beach access on a property he is set to inherit from the much-beloved resident Heloise “Lou” Herrickson. Julia is worried about having enough crabs for their Snowden Family Clambake’s and about the clammers that are losing their income. The tourists aren’t happy either especially a couple that was booked to spend a few nights in the nearby lighthouse. Soon after Julia tries to meet with the man to try to come up a plan to reopen the beach he is found dead. There are plenty of suspects as he had angered plenty of people. Just who was mad enough to commit murder? Julia plans to find out. It was so nice to escape to Maine in the summertime as the cold weather here tries to chill us to the bone. This time in addition to the beach being closed off preliminary plans have been drawn for repairing and renovating Windsholme, the mansion on Morrow Island that been empty since the 1920s. The mansion on the beach that Bartholomew Frick was inheriting was built by the same builder so the architect and designer are anxious to get a peek as they continue to finalize the plan. Julia and her boyfriend Chris are having some issues but she opens her will finally open up and tell her more about the secret she knows he is keeping. This was a really fast read for me. The death of “Lou” Herrickson sets off a chain of events that had my pages absolutely flying. Her family tree and her will designations were very surprising to the people of Busman’s Harbor. All my favorite characters were back and some new characters that definitely fit the “quirky” definition were introduced. One couple traveling by RV is trying to see or sleep in all the lighthouses in the U.S. What a fun idea! I liked that we delve into Chris’ past in this story and start to understand him better. He has had a complicated life and the author is finally allowing Julia and us readers in on his past. The entire story is very well-written with subplots the blend perfectly into the main plot. Twists, turns, and some exciting moments take place as Julia does her best to solve this mystery. There is a clear “edge of your seat” moment near the end that had my heart racing. I love the way Barbara Ross tells a story. She drew me in, set a brisk pace, and took me on a wonderful little trip complete with delicious food descriptions (with recipes) and a top-shelf mystery. Each book in this series can be read on its own but for maximum enjoyment, I recommend reading them in order.
Tangen 3 months ago
maine, tourist-town, cozy-mystery, family-dynamics, law-enforcement, suspense, murder-investigation It's a good thing that the primary target for murder got done in early because he was totally odious! The townsfolk are all hardworking people with a very short earning season who have just lost their beloved centenarian benefactor who bequeathed her seaside property to above rat. Being a small town, it's the state police who bring in detectives and forensics, but sifting through the evidence isn't as useful as it might be. Then there is the issue of line of inheritance to dig through! Julia is a local back from away and she is very good at digging into the past despite problems in her own life that threaten to derail family harmony and the business. Well crafted and with escalating suspense, plot twists and red herrings. A very good read! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
4GranJan 3 months ago
Wonderful Coastal Maine Cozy Mystery This book is seventh in a series and it stands alone very well. I have not read any of the prior books, but I plan to! The is a wonderful book! It takes time to explain coastal Maine; its heritage, livelihood, and ecology. The mystery portion of the book is excellent. There are plenty of suspects with motive and opportunity. All of the characters are well developed and realistic. I plan on reading more of this author's work. I received this book for free and this is my honest opinion.
diane92345 3 months ago
Steamed Open, the seventh in the Maine Clambake Mysteries, has great characters and will teach the reader about clamming but the mystery was too easy to solve. Bartholomew Frick, a stranger in town, inherits the Hendrickson mansion, lighthouse, and beach after 101-year-old Lou’s death. His first move is to bar access to the beach. His second is to be murdered with a clamming fork. When Lou’s elderly housekeeper, Ida, asks Julia for help in clearing her name, Julia looks for the real killer. Julia juggles sleuthing with her island clambake lunches and dinners. In addition, she uncovers why her boyfriend has been so secretive about his family. Last, but not least, there are five recipes included: Linguini with clam sauce, clam dip, clam potato casserole, raspberry muffins and sour cream coffeecake. I enjoyed the Maine atmosphere and the great and varied characters. Chris’ backstory is heartbreaking. Watching the police get mired down interviewing everyone multiple times while Julia proceeds to find the answers to two old Hendrickson secrets was fun. However, the clue to the murderer’s identity was too obvious, like a flashing yellow sign. Steamed Open is a good choice for cozy readers looking for a slice-of-life portrait of how people live in coastal Maine. However, for armchair detectives like me, it didn’t offer enough of a challenge. 3 stars. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
annemariebookaholic 3 months ago
I absolutely love the Maine Clambake Mysteries...each one is so easy to read...the words just flow... In Steamed Open, Julie Snowden, runs the Snowden Family Clambake where they take tourists to their island from Busman's Harbour, Maine and well have a clambake. This story we have our usual murder/mystery and Julia is right in the thick of things but as we soon discover there are a couple more stories beyond the mystery that Julia is dealing with...I have read all of this series and even though you can read them as a stand alone I highly recommend reading the series in order...it helps with the ongoing story line about the Snowden's family and their ownership of the island. Not to mention the murder/mystery solving. I am not one to give away the storyline of each book...you can read the author's synopsis here on Goodreads. I am here to tell you that each book is easily read in 1 to 2 days because the author has a way of writing her mysteries to keep you interested...Barbara Ross is a wonderful writer and I can't wait for the next book...
Abby-F 3 months ago
Julia Snowden and the gang are back in another enthralling addition to one of the best cozy series out there. One of my favorite things about this series is the balance. Neither the characters nor the mystery is lacking. Sometimes, especially in cozies, you can either have really great characters or a really great mystery. While the two can both be excellent, on many occasions, one overtakes the other. That is not so in this series. The characters are amazingly developed while the mystery will always make your mind race. In this installment, Julia and Chris hit a stepping stone. Their relationship strikes me as very real, and it was great to see it develop further. Gus's restaurant is one of my favorite places for scenes to take place. The interactions that take place there give you a window into what life in Maine is really like. As always, it was wonderful to read about the inner workings of the clambake. You get enough detail to educate you, but not too much to bore or confuse you. I especially loved a scene in the book where Julia goes clamming. It was incredibly interesting. As I alluded to above, the mystery was superb. Ms. Ross was born to write mysteries. She can create such a genuine story. I also appreciated how Julia had to go through a process to solve the crime. She doesn't just talk to people; she digs through records, tracks things down, and thinks on it. It doesn't all come easily. This is a must read for those who love complex characters, captivating mysteries, and , the heart of the series, clambakes! I received a free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
chefdt 3 months ago
Steamed Open is the seventh book in the A Maine Clambake Mystery series. I’ve loved this series since the first book. I can always count on an interesting and well-written story with interesting and believable characters. I’ve never been to a clambake, but I never tire of reading what is included and what goes into the preparation of the clambake. Beloved resident, Heloise “Lou” Herrickson, has left her property, including her house, lighthouse, and lighthouse keepers cottage to her grand-nephew, Bartholomew Frick. The first change that Frick makes is to install a fence and locked gate preventing clammers and residents access to the beach that they have enjoyed for years. The clammers, wielding their clam rakes and residents begin a boisterous protest but are informed that the matter will have to go through a court process to resolve. Julia thinks that if she can talk with Frick, that maybe some kind of agreement can be worked out. As she approaches the front door she meets Ida Fischer, the Herrickson’s housekeeper. Ida lets Julia know that she has just resigned and tells her where Frick was when she last saw him. It turns out to be a short meeting and Julia’s pleas of understanding fall upon deaf ears. Then as Julia is leaving, she is approached by a neighbor, Vera French, who wants to express her sympathies to Frick and get a look inside the house. Later that day as Julia is returning from Morrow Island after the evening clambake, she is met by the police who inform her of Frick’s death. Julia is more concerned with who will inherit from Frick, than who the killer was, hoping that it isn’t anyone involved in the protest. But, at the same time, she feels that knowing who the other heirs that are mentioned in Lou’s will may point to the possible killer. This turns out to be a dilemma for her as the late husband’s godchild, Elizabeth Anderson, cannot be found. Also, there is mentioned in the will a daughter that no one seemed to know anything about and was written out of the will. Also coming out in this book is more about Julia’s boyfriend, Chris. Chris has been mostly secretive about his past and family. Finally, Julia is able to get him to open up and explain why he limits his contact with them. Also, plans for the restoration Windsholme, the old family home on Morrow Island, are being reviewed so that construction may start soon. Recipes are also included in the book. It always wonderful to spend time with the enjoyable residents of Busman’s Harbor and I will definitely be watching for the next book in this great series.
TarynLee 3 months ago
Julia is happy that it is summertime and clamming season is upon her family. There's nothing greater than having clambakes and hoards of vacationers to enjoy them. When a newcomer to town denies access to the beach where the Snowden family holds their Clambakes there is an uproar of disapproval not only from the family but the town. People look forward to the Clambakes not only for themselves but for the people it brings to the town. When newcomer, Bartholomew Frick, ends up dead things don't look good for the Snowden family. Julia knows that no one in her family could have murdered the man but who does that leave? She soon learns that Frick had quite a few people who disliked him but who out of the bunch could have killed him and why. Follow along as Julia digs into Frick's life and hopes to find a killer among the clues. Will she find the answers she seeks or will this murder remain a mystery? This is a great series filled with a wonderful cast of characters. I love the relationship that Julia has with her family and it just adds to the story. The location is beautiful and one I would love to visit one day. I'm from the south so I enjoy learning about the cuisine that is mixed throughout the story and it has me trying new things all the time. I can't wait to see where the author takes Julia and her family next and I hope she brings some new and exciting recipes to the mix.
bluegreen91 3 months ago
This book was so hard to put down, I read it in one sitting! I love the small, seaside town of Busman's Harbor and the family clambake featured in this series. They're practically characters in the story. The characters are great, from protagonist Julia and her boyfriend Chris to policemen Dawes, Binder, and Flynn, and all the family and friends in between. Some of the usual side characters are little more than a mention in this book, but we meet several interesting, new characters. This is a well-written mystery, centered around recently-deceased Lou and her family's extremely valuable oceanside estate, her heirs - one of whom winds up dead - and a disinherited relative. There are a few solid suspects and a couple characters with mysterious histories. There's also a side storyline revealing more of Chris' background. I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series, and this one hasn't been released yet! For readers who haven't discovered the joy of the Maine Clambake Mysteries yet, this book works as a stand-alone, but I highly encourage you to start from the beginning and enjoy the whole series chronologically! I received an advance copy of this book. This review contains my honest thoughts and opinions.
BeagleGirl123 3 months ago
Steamed Open by Barbara Ross, her 7th Maine Clambake Mystery, is another well-written tale in this cozy series. It's the end of summer, and when a wealthy longtime resident passes away, the heir to her estate cuts off beach access on her property, raising the hackles of the residents of Busman's Harbor. Not surprisingly, it isn't long before the new heir is found dead, and Julia must sort through ancient family history to discover the motive for the crime. Lots of hidden secrets abound, and we even learn little bit more of Chris' family background which is a nice addition to the story. I really enjoy this series, and Ms. Ross does a wonderful job of keeping the reader guessing right up until the very end of the book. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a (yes, pun is definitely intended!) cozy mystery to read! A+