I’m still knee-deep in beach series and hungry for more, so I was thrilled to discover the Maine Clambake series by Barbara Ross. I read three out of the eight book series this past week. A well-written mystery series with a unique setting and delicious recipes to boot.

Clammed Up introduces us to Julia Snowden. Julia used to work in the venture capital business in New York City, but she is called home to Busman’s Harbor, Maine to try to help save the family clambake business. Her father died several years ago, and her mother has retreated into her grief. Her brother-in-law, Sonny, has been running the clambake business but unfortunately took out a bad business loan which has now come due. The Snowden family has one summer season to try to come up with the money to pay the loan and not lose their family home and business to the bank.

Julia came up with the plan to offer the family island where the clambakes take place as a wedding venue. An acquaintance has booked the venue for her wedding, and Julia feels it was the right decision until the guests and bride arrive at the island and find the wedding party’s best man hung from the balustrade in the family’s island house.

Julia can’t figure out how someone was able to dock on the island without being seen by the chef/caretaker and his wife who live on Morrow Island and who could have navigated the rocky shores in the dark. At first, Julia doesn’t believe the murder is directed at her clambake business, but when new crimes occur, she begins to realize that her family and their island is the target. To make matters worse, the police have shut their business down and the bank is threatening to call the loan in early. Julia has to race to save her family’s livelihood by catching the murderer.

This was a well-plotted mystery with several threads tying the clues and suspects together. Since I’ve never been to Maine or a clambake, I found these elements adding depth and interest on top of the actual mystery. Typical of cozies, there is a romantic interest, but Barbara Ross makes an excellent choice to not make it an easy romance. Julia’s love interest, Chris, isn’t a cop and has something in his past which hints at unreliability.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries with unique settings, recipes, and characters with depth, I highly recommend the Maine Clambake series. I’m off to read the next one in the series!

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